The first time I broke a toe I was on the first leg of a rather ill-fated backpack trip. We were on our way to Camp Pajarito from Camp Singing Pines. Pajarito is a very cook cabin up in the Angeles National Forest that is not easy to get to but well worth the trip.
I had a bunch of novice backpackers, an apprentice and a couple of CITs and no other staff. They were going to catch up with us and join us that night. We started our early in the morning right after breakfast on a really hot day. I didn’t learn it was up over a 100 until we got back. When you’re backpacking anything over a certain temperature is just bloody hot anyway.
We had gotten to our first stop where the trail turns back to the north side and were taking a break. They weren’t supposed to take their packs off but one of my not too bright one had and I saw it sliding off the rock she had placed it on top of. Backpacks used to have welded metal frames and in those letting one hit the ground could break the frame. So to prevent damage to the frame I stuck my left foot out and got the back across my left big toe and felt it break but the backpack didn’t. Because I didn’t want the kids to get upset and because we had no way back to camp without sending an unaccompanied minor back alone, I decided to go forward and not say anything.
I then found out the same nimrod had decided her water was too heavy and hadn’t brought any. So I gave her my water bottle, dummy me. (This was one of my first trips, after this one I checked backs for books, pillows and stuffies hitchhiking along.)
If I had known how hot it was I would have made her share with someone instead of me going without. We continued on our way and it got hotter and hotter and I had no water and I’m hurting. Pretty soon the apprentice tells me I’m bright red and am I alright? This was my first hint that maybe I’m headed into heat stroke. Something they don’t tell you about heat stroke is that you get very focused. They tell you about the mental problem but they don’t tell you what that problem is. The problem is you have one idea in your head and no room for any other. I was focused on getting the kids to Pajarito and nothing else mattered.
The only problem was there are 2 trails to Pajarito, an easy one and one that would be better for mountain goats. Guess which one I found first? Now I had CITs asking me if I was okay and was this the right trail? I just kept walking and we did get there after scaling some hillsides of decomposing granite that would have been better left unscaled.
I got there and looked in the mirror and saw someone who could have doubled for a tomato or strawberry. I drank a gallon of water straight down and basically passed out for about an hour giving my apprentice a good scare until I woke up again. This was not one of my brighter moments either.
I was very glad when help arrived that night. Although while making s’mores we lost one of the counselors due to a flying, flaming marshmallow in the face. Burning sugar is like burning napalm. Thankfully their ride had stayed for dinner and ended up taking her back to camp.
Thankfully, the rest of the trip went smoothly. We spent a couple of days there. It’s got a very strange outhouse. It’s a four seater with nothing between the seats and extends out over a cliff. I have no idea who thought that set up was a good thing because young girls may go to the bathroom in packs but they don’t sit together in the bif. Usually there is just a lot of yelling through the door at each other.
The other counselors didn’t want me to walk back but I did after promising to visit the nurse immediately when we got back. So when I got back I visited the infirmary. I went in asked the nurse what the first aid was for a broken toe. She said usually walking barefoot and taping it to the toe next to it otherwise unless it’s a compound fracture there isn’t a lot you can do. I said okay and walked back out. She never asked to see my toe and I didn’t volunteer to share and I think we were both happy about it.