10% Chance of Rain

10% chance of rain: it made for a longer and more complicated day, but when it was all said and done, we got through it.

10% Chance of Rain
JetBoil on a rock at night

I went to Emigrant Wilderness with a fellow TSLer; we were planning on camping near the trailhead Friday and Saturday night, day hiking into the wilderness on Saturday to Chewing Gum Lake. It was slotted to be a 5 mile hike with about 1,900 feet of elevation gain. When I looked at the weather forecast originally, it said it was going to be sunny; a day before, it said 10% chance of rain. While packing, I figured it wouldn’t rain because we’ve been in a heat wave. We got set up Friday night and had a good time at the camp. Saturday morning, I made coffee and breakfast, and we packed everything up and stored it in the car so we weren’t leaving our gear out.

The trail was strenuous. I was definitely feeling the altitude and having spent much of the week out and about on adventures. The views were amazing.

Emigrant Wilderness
The author posing in Emigrant Wilderness... what a poseur!

On the way in, we met someone headed back to the trailhead on horseback with another horse in tow. She told us her friend had broken her leg at the lake and that people were with us; she wanted to know if we’d gotten cell service along the way.

We got to the lake around 13:00 and saw the injured person and a bunch of people around them. We talked to one person who said they had contacted search and rescue; my first thought was not to crowd them because it looked like they had a handle on the situation. I was almost out of water, so I tried to fill up one of my canteens. I got one filled up when it started to sprinkle. I realized I had a poncho liner in my bag, along with a hammock and a tarp. I thought they might be able to use a shelter to keep rain off the person, so I went over and offered some help. It turns out I was the only one at the time that had any sort of (at least somewhat recent) medical training. Long story short, we spent about three hours there helping out. I gave them my poncho liner to put under the emergency blanket they had on her, and we used the tarp to keep rain off her.

About an hour after we started helping, a party of nurses showed up - they were on a backpacking trip, and were able to help out, too. We finally got an update around 14:00 that the California Highway Patrol was sending a rescue helicopter out, and they would arrive in an hour or so. At some point during this, it also started pouring rain. My softshell was inundated pretty quickly. Right around 15:00 everything cleared up and within a few minutes, the helicopter was overhead. When the helicopter landed (I was amazed that the pilot was able to land where they did), I briefly debated leaving so as not to get in the way, but opted to stay back and wait to see if they needed help.

I hear the choppers hovering, they're hovering overhead
They've come to get the wounded...

I ended up helping the paramedic splint her leg, and then a bunch of us got her onto a litter and onto the helicopter. It was pretty amazing that people from four or five different groups of people had people helping her; each of us brought our own skills. At the end of the day, I’m glad I chose to be a “get involved” kind of person - once I was able to figure out that I would be able to contribute and not be in the way.

We left about 16:00. I should have filled up my other canteen, but I didn’t. We sort of lost the trail for a bit as the rain had changed things up a bit, but we managed to make it back. Right as we saw the trailhead parking lot, it started dumping rain again and I got soaked. The rain cleared up soon enough, I changed out, set up the tent, and my buddy got the fire going.

10% chance of rain: it made for a longer and more complicated day, but when it was all said and done, we got through it. Still, I made some mistakes where I should have known better, but I was still pretty well off.

The trail leads ever on...

Bonus: video of the helicopter landing; I got the video from someone who was there.

Lessons learned

  • I should always just have my poncho in my bag. It doesn’t take up much space, and it should have been in my bag, but must have gotten left behind when I repacked after the hunting trip.
  • I left the iodine tablets out of my survival kit this time; it would have let me fill up an extra canteen or two. By the time I was ready to drink from them, the iodine would have done its thing.
  • I need to get a rain cover for my backpack. Also, more dry bags. I took stuff out of them for the hunting trip because it was going to be 115 ºF (45 ºC) during the day, but should have repacked them for this trip.
  • Hand warmers would be a useful thing to put in the first aid kit. We ended up warming up water in a Nalgene to use to warm the patient’s core, but a hand warmer would have been faster and more convenient.

Gear used

Notes on loadouts