Posted by: GeekHiker | April 20, 2008

Should’a Known Better

You know, I don’t claim to be an outdoors guru by any means. I haven’t climbed Everest, or hiked the PCT, or kayaked from New York to London.

I am, however, a fairly outdoorsy kind of guy, and I’d like to think that within the limited scope of things that I do, I’m good at them.

And yet, in the last few weeks, I’ve managed to:

* Develop the nastiest case of poison oak I’ve had yet (it was only just starting when I wrote that post, but it turned out really disgusting). What makes this particularly bad is that not only do I know what poison oak looks like, it’s spring, when the plant is easiest to identify!

* Burn the heck out of the tops of my feet. After re-applying suntan lotion more than once. After having burned myself when I was younger and learned my lesson. Yep, I should know better, and should have reapplied every 2 minutes or so.

* Finally, on this weekend’s backpacking trip, I managed to totally screw up my knee. Coming down a switchback, I rounded a corner (worn away, according to the trail crew working yesterday, by kids who cut the switchback) and my right foot was too close to the edge. It fell out from under me, as did the right trekking pole when I planted it to stop the fall. My entire weight, plus 45 lbs. of backpacking gear, came slamming down on my left knee, leaving it bruised, swollen, and bleeding.

This, in and of itself, I don’t have a problem with. No, the problem is that my first aid kit was in the pocket behind the drivers seat in my truck at the trailhead. I should know better. Someone else was carrying a kit, but they were already crossing the canyon bottom as I and the girl I was hiking with were lagging behind. Accepting the gift of a small swatch of TP from her pack and a wrap I was lucky enough to have stuffed in the pack at the very last minute, I dressed it as best I could and went on to camp.

I’m walking with a lovely limp now, and it’s probably infected since I wasn’t able to put antiseptic on it right away, but hiked three miles further with a large rip in the pants in front of it. All because I should have been carrying my kit.

I mean, I’ve been doing stuff in the outdoors long enough that I should know better, right?



  1. Ouch, GH, man, I’m thankful you are back to write about it! Hope your knee gets to feeling better soon.

  2. Um…ow!

    Poor GH. You need some tlc.

  3. Feel better soon, G.H.

    And yes, sounds like TLC is definitely in order 🙂

  4. “That” leads me to think I’m not prepared at all…

  5. A “large rip in the pants”. Hmmm sounds familiar 🙂 I carry a small first aid kit that I have never used except for the mole skin. Hope I never have to use it.

    I think I may be immune to poison oak but I’ve been afraid to actually confirm it or not.

    You take care.

  6. Look at it this way, at least you have a cool scar to show off and tell about the grueling trail that gave it to you, or the bear, or the lion or the siberian tiger!

  7. Sorry to hear it. Sometimes it happens, though, as a reminder.

    Hope you’re not infected (clean it well, then use neosporin) and feel better soon.

  8. Oh, Geekhiker–these are just things that happen if you are active in the outdoors a lot. It isn’t a reflection on your abilities!

    I am really sorry about your knee and wish you a speedy recovery. It sounds painful, and getting injured miles from the car is truly the worst. Good for you for being able to tough out the hike back to the car.

  9. I used to be a good scout and carry a kit. Nothing ever happened and I got lazy. Didn’t carry as much as a Band-Aid for years.

    So last year I decided to be prepared again. I was savagely attacked by a wild and vicious Manzanita. Fortunately I had a First Aid Kit designed especially for hikers!

    Ha! Designed for very wee small hikers. Who might be suffering something as serious as a paper cut. Or chapped lips. The 13 oz. ballistic nylon pouch was crammed with 10 packets of Blistex and about 500 tiny adhesive strips. Fortunately there was one gauze pad (the size of a postage stamp) and a roll of adhesive (reasonably sized for someone with the stature of GI Joe.)

    You’d have really looked silly trying to apply 120 tiny adhesive strips to your gaping flesh wound. And at least this way your companion got to play the part of Florence Nightengale. So it’s all good!

    (BTW, I find spring to be a tough time of year to ID poison oak. It’s the same color as scrub oak and blends in with surrounding foliage. I almost grabbed a handful of the stuff on a hike to the Grottos last month.)

  10. Sometimes we just get complacent and don’t think we need these things.

    Or, if you’re like me, you pack for every foreseeable circumstance and then wonder why you have to lug so much junk around. Then you end up leaving items because you’ve never used them only to get lost in the woods and suddenly leaving that PLB in the truck was a bad idea. 😀

  11. Awww Geeky. I am very sorry that you have had such a bad hiking spell recently. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery.

    I guess hiking is not as fun as I thought it was.



  12. Did you break a mirror or walk under a ladder recently?

  13. Dobegil – Thanks. I’m taking good care of it.

    Just A Girl – Ow is exactly the word!

    East Coast Teacher – Thank you for the kind wishes.

    Gany – Don’t worry too much, just remember your first aid kit!

    Homer-Dog – LOL; well, at least mine was on the knee! My understanding is that most people start with an immunity, but it breaks down over time and with exposure, so best to stay away…

    Jojourneys – Oh, I’ve already started coming up with a good story or two…

    Devonellington – Thanks. Been doing the best first aid I can, but it’s a darn big cut!

    Hadley – Oh, I know… still, not even bringing a small kit was kinda silly. As for the hike in to camp and then back out, what choice did I have?

    Phil – Yeah, I know how you feel about the kits. I’m thinking the next time around I’m going to assemble my own since I have a pretty good idea of what’s important in a kit now…

    A-Ron – Yeah, and I think I learned my lesson!

    Cara – Thanks. Actually, the backpack was still a lot of fun, in spite of it all!

    Mel Heth – No, not that I know of. Maybe I’ve had a hex put on me?

  14. Please tell me you applied some antiseptic as soon as you were able?

    Hope it doesn’t get infected!! (if, sorry it isn’t already)

    Now you know a lot better. 😀

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