Sunday was a climb up into the White Tank Mountains west of Phoenix. This area was incredibly awesome with the vibrant colors of spring going off. The trails of the White Tanks are extremely diverse. We did a loop that included some burly climbing on the Mesquite Canyon trail before things mellowed out to mostly smooth benchcut singletrack interspresed with technical bits. There were some impressive views along this trail. From the Mesquite Trail we connected to the Willow Trail and enjoyed some more springtime desert goodness. From the Willow Trail we connected to the Ford Canyon Trail which had us busting out a switchbacking climb up to the junction of the Goat Camp Trail.
The Goat Camp Trail had been on my to-do list for a long while as people who are much better riders than me have all said it is one of the gnarliest trails they have ever been on. The trail did not disappoint. It starts off really scenic and pretty as you work your way over a couple of ridges before coming to the final descent.
This is where things get incredibly technical. The opening descent is a steep loose monster that is quite shaly with big chunk a plenty. Our guide and all-around awesome guy for the day, Greg, described it best when he said “If you touch your front brake just a little too much, the earth opens up and swallows your front wheel”. The middle section gets more firm undertneath you but the trail is just impressively rugged. It is hard to put a pucker factor on this section. It is more like a continual state of colon lockdown.
There is a really tricky feature known as the Spiral Staircase. There is a bit of a chunk gate to get into the feature followed by steep left handed roll down into a really tight righthander that exits into either a spine roll or a chunky set of stairsteps. JD impressively flashed the entire thing after a quite look see of the line options. I kept having problems at the bottom as I could not get through the bottom right hander smooth enough to get onto the spine roll.
Below the Spiral Staircase is another just mean section known as “Jack Hammer”. It was somewhere along this section that I blew a move and went off the bike and unfortnately smacked into a sharp-edged rock with my face. OUCH!!!!! I knew it was bad as soon as it happened as I could feel the left side of my face move in the “wrong” direction and then go numb. Behind me was Kevin and when he gave the question we all get asked sooner or later “Are You Okay”, I had to respond with “No, I’m hurt bad”.
Like myself, Kevin has been offically trained on Wilderness First Aid and he did a great job sizing up the situation and getting all the supplies out and starting the work of patching my lower and upper lips back together with some steri-strip wound closures. I know the poker face and measured repsonses medics are trained to give in situations like this and I knew Kevin was concerned. I’m sure some of you are already thinking “Did he film that?” Yes, I was filming when it happened. It is mighty hard to see you own face so I used the camcorder with the screen flipped so I could see the damage myself. It was not pretty at all. After getting patched up, Kevin and I walked down the rest of the trail. It was not too far before we JD and Greg where waiting for us. I could see the concern in thier eyes as well.
We had some gear spread amongs a couple of cars, so JD and Greg went on ahead to get everything setup for my exit. I walked some more until the trail got pretty tame in comparision to the rest the trail. I made a point of going very gingerly as I did not want to elevate my heart anymore than needed. On the way back we came across a few hikers who gave some quite truthful responses like “Holy S#$T” and Oh My F#$king God!
Once off the trail, I got my chamois off as I knew I would otherwise have it on for a long and end up with a bad case of monkeybutt. JD got me to the ER straight away. This was the first time I had the term “Though and Through” used outside of a CSI show on TV. Both the upper and lower lips where lacerated in that manner with the lower getting the worst of it. I walked out of the ER four hours after arriving with 19 stitches (some inside and some out) and a hankering for a smoothie!
Jerry thankfully had taken a catnap while waiting for me and he drove back to Orange County so I would only have to deal with about an hour of driving from the OC down to North County San Diego. It was way freaking late when I got home. Even though the Novacaine of long since worn off, a good portion of my face was disturbingly still numb.
It has been a few days since the crash. I had thought about posting earlier about this but was just not feeling up to it. The good news is that I can tell the nerves are starting to heal and the feeling is starting to come back into most of the area. The bad news is ……The feeling is coming back into the area! The inside of the left side of my mouth feels like a have a cold sore the size of a quarter and few of the bits of spare change.
I’m already shopping for a full-face helmet for my technical trail excursions.