(Foreboding) Leah (the Great Pyrenees) barked at a group of lights coming down the 99 switchbacks at midnight. I told her to shush.
On leaving Trail Camp for a "Ninja Run" to the Summit, we bumped into a forerunner (and Professional Nurse) to a group of hero hikers who were helping a hiker striken with AMS. The hiker had HACE, HACE induced blindness, and HAPE. Luckily I was with Leah the "Satellite Phone Service Dog", so I borrowed Leah's phone (*) to call the Inyo County Sheriff Dept. (preprogrammed) to initiate a helicopter rescue. Also luckily, my tent was available with my old -15F down sleeping bag I nicknamed "The Boulder" (because in its compression sack it is like putting a boulder in your backpack) The bag was perched on a Thermorest NeoAir XTherm Max. The helicopter was scheduled to come at first light and the hero Nurse stayed to stablize her condition in my tent.
After all was settled, I restarted my hike up the switchbacks, but unfortunately, got AMS nausea at Trail Crest and rushed down the 99 switchbacks (and puked 99 times, ha ha). I had summited 2 months earlier and this spur of the moment trip (reserved the permit online the day before the hike) was just mostly testing my AMS succeptability and experiencing the "overnight" permit hike experience over 3 nights. I thus got to be in Trail Camp when the helicopter came. I got to hear their megaphone (paraphrasing): "YOU IN THE BLUE JACKET AND TAN PANTS. YES YOU! LEAVE YOUR POSITION NOW! YOU ARE IN THE LANDING ZONE AND WE ARE GOING TO LAND." Apparently the hiker was, of course, obliviously filming the helicopter with his smartphone. The ailing hiker was wisked away to the hospital and had a full recovery.
(*) I wouldn't have bought and carry a Sat phone if I was not hiking with and responsible for Leah's safety (as her Dog owner/guardian). Once I have the phone, I might as pull the joke after slipping the Sat Phone in her holster: "But she is a Service Dog, "A Satellite Phone Service Dog" - bringing phone service to hikers in need" when caught being hundreds of feet inside a National Park Border by a NPS Ranger (Ranger: Ha Ha. Here's your $1000 fine...). She also provides support kisses for the AMS stricken...
Unrelated lessions learned:
- 1.5oz Enlightened Equipment windpants are cold when you stop hiking.
- Don't leave your Smartwool baselayer down in your car in Whitney Portal.
- Cheap emergency bivvys are not as warm as -15F down sleeping bags.
- 90F Lone Pine forecast, plus night time + 10,000 feet + 40 MPH winds equals cold.
Picture of Leah on White Mountain Peak:
Picture of Leah ready to provide Sat phone service (normally stored in my backpack stretchy pocket to unburden Leah):
Picture from Facebook CHP Inland Division Air Operations
of the helicopter rescue on Sept 16, 2018: