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Monday, August 15, 2011

Epic Rescue–What We Did On Our Summer Break

So, it’s a few weeks out from the events for the spring, and Yishai and I decided to go on a mini vacation by driving all around Northern California: Arcata to Whiskeytown Lake to Lassen National Park to Downieville with some stops in between. If you haven’t been to this area, you should make sure you do. We were so inspired by the trees, the jagged mountains, the pot-smoking hippies, and the awesome ability for RVs to get just about everywhere.

We ended up going to Downieville kind of on a lark. We were driving out of Lassen and the truck is feeling . . . wobbly. We pull over and Yishai looks and sees nothing is wrong, so we keep going. And now we have a choice – we can go to Downieville, or we can go to the Bay Area for the weekend. After hemming and hawing, we decide that we should go to Downieville and then – BLAM: 285125_10100107334432795_6408172_46099011_7074733_n

The tire peels apart and literally attacks the entire back of the truck. Very, very sad pandas for us. In case you were wondering, event production, at our size and scope, doesn’t pay too much. This hurts. A lot.

We end up in Chico, getting a new spare tire, and then it’s a question of . . . the sun will be setting soon. What do we do? Stay in Chico? Give up on Downieville? No. We should go.

So we go. And we get lost. But then we get un-lost. And as the sun is beginning to set, we pull into the most idyllic town ever and the second hotel we stop at (enough of camping, we want comfort in this cute town) has one vacancy due to a car malfunction and we are saving that party from having to pay for the night anyway. Meant to be.

The hotel is cute, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the owner of the Riverside Inn – if you ever make it there, say hi. Smile 

Anyway, we decide that I will shuttle Yishai to the start of the dirt road so he can “cross country” the approach to the famous Downieville Downhill. The Downieville Outfitters told us it averages people four hours to do the downhill, and knowing Yishai’s fitness, I figure it will take him four hours to ride up to the start and do it.

But he is sore from running on the beach without shoes a few days before. And it’s hot. Very hot. And he has very little water and food.

But whatever, he’s good.


So the dogs and I go down to the river for the day (thanks to the fact I’m still recovering from shoulder surgery), playing around, talking to locals and feeling the general Downieville good feeling.


Dogs at the gallows – don’t worry, it was only used once.

So four hours later, I go to our rally point – the truck in the parking lot. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Two hours later, I am starting to worry so I truck on over to the Downieville Outfitters again and ask if there’s been any epic reports. To my surprise, they are really, really involved in trying to help me – she tells me she’ll have the number forward to her home if I need to call her and I find out where he comes out so I can hike up and find him as it gets dark. But, this is a well trafficked trail. Maybe he’s just walking down from too many flats? People would say something happened as they passed.

So, about two hours late, and six hours into this, here’s how he shows up:


Stoked and covered in blood. So I am not too worried about him, but the story unfolds . . .

So he is riding up the dirt road, eight miles of slogging in full sun which he will and does not recommend – but it is pretty:


There are lovely things to see along the way, he takes photos for me so I can see:



After building bridges for the Ancient Peaks Classic, we approve of really nice mountain bike bridges.

And he’s not being passed by anyone, in fact, he passes people that were dropped off long ago by the bike outfitters. He tells me later that this was a trail that I could definitely do, and enjoy, and that all these people with armor and hardcore downhill bikes are definitely not in need of that for the ride.

So he’s thirteen miles into the ride, about to finish in only three and a half hours from drop off at the dirt road to the truck, when he comes across a guy lying on the side, moaning, unable to move.

Yishai no longer has his certifications, but he has Wilderness First Responder and EMT training, and he loves using it. So he casts his bike aside and checks on the guy. He’s helpless. Can’t move his leg. The pain is excruciating. He does the formal checks and determines he’s got a huge 4” laceration that’s very deep above his hip, and extreme pain on palpation. He’s also bleeding – a lot. Huge clumps of clotting blood plop out as he examines.

So Yishai cleans out the wound with his Lezyne water pack, packs the wound and puts pressure on it. And then, in time, they decide they can move him. There’s no cell phone reception, so it’s going to have to be a carry.

By now, more San Luis Obispo people show up (we find it funny that they have Wheelmen and Foothill jerseys – represent) to help. Yishai, along with two other guys, try a chair-carry, but it’s not working, so “Ox” – a huge guy, 6’3” and 220lb + suggests piggy backing, and Yishai holds him from behind because he can’t cling with his legs. They start down the trail.

And then a guy comes riding toward them, yelling, “YOU’RE IN THE WAY!” and rides up on the side . . . which is jerky in the first place. But more jerky is that as he rides on the side of the trail, he rams a wasp nest, unleashing thousands of angry stingers!

The guys are helpless, they have to set the injured guy down, fighting the bees, throwing water on them, wondering if they should drag him out of the way or what. The end up telling him to just lay there and not move so they will calm down.

And then, when that happens, they climb on down the hill.

His friend is there with his new pickup with leather seats – “I am going to ruin it with this guy’s blood!” Bah! Help your friend- you can wash your truck!

Anyway, he get loaded, they drive off, and Yishai shows up.

I tell him I need to go to the Outfitters to tell them we found him and they are so stoked at the heroics of the three guys that they hand out socks.


Awww. The guy ended up with a broken pelvis, but is going to be okay. Three cheers for being there when he needed it! Smile