Yosemite National Park

Looks like the Haun adventures, just keep on coming. We couldn’t let the mountain lion story be the highlight of our trip. Today we saw a bear off the side of the road as we drove to another hiking point in Yosemite. We got out to take some photos (now the only major wildlife we have to see is a coyote – maybe tonight). I had the zoom lens and was getting some pretty good shots from a safe distant (see, I’m learning from my cougar lesson). After taking a couple, I turned around to head back and slipped off the fallen tree trunk I had been precariously balancing on to frame my shots.

The bear

I fell to the ground but put out my hand to break my fall. I felt a sharp pain in my hand and jumped up to find a stick about a ½ inch in diameter protruding from my hand. It had lodged itself firmly in the palm of my left hand just next to my thumb. My first instinct was to pull it out, but I tried and couldn’t. The pain was too much and it was in there good. I ran to Heidi holding up my now six fingered hand. After insisting she take a photo (see attached), we ran to the car to get our First Aid Kit.

The injury

If you were wondering, yes, it was just like in the movies. Heidi ripped off her clothes to reveal that she indeed was the caped…err…lab-coated … crusader – none other than SUPERDOCTOR. She put a tourniquet around my arm and got pad of gauze ready. On the count of three and with a scream like a woman, I ripped the stick out of my hand and she immediately applied pressure to the gaping hole in my hand.

To our surprise, the stick had been lodged a good inch and a half in my hand (see other attached photo). We jumped in the car and began driving to the nearest ranger station at the south entrance of the park. Here I am forced to be critical of our National Park Service. The Information Center we stopped at was run by some pimply faced college students with “Volunteer” on their shirts. The girl we asked about getting me medical attention look more grossed out than concerned about my story and waited patiently for the other voice-cracking volunteer to finish his lecture to a visitor on bear-proof containers. Then he simply referred us back up the road to another Ranger Station.

To make a long story short (though remember I was enduring the pain for the long version), we went to that Station to only be referred to the Fire Station. We went to the Fire Station to find it abandoned. Finally, we decided to just leave the park and drive the 70 miles to Fresno – a large city bound to have hospitals.

The stick

While driving out we saw a Park Ranger and stopped to ask him for help. He said to follow him and meandered slowly p to the building nearby. There he asked another Ranger what to do. “Hmmm, well you could drive back up into the valley about 35 miles to the Medical Center. Or… there’s an Urgent Care center about 20 miles south. In fact, I took my wife there when she had her foot stepped on by a donkey. That was, well, that was about two years ago. Heck, that was to years ago and a day… right Jeff?”

“That’s right” the first Ranger responded.

After tea and biscuits with Dumb & Dumber to get their life stories, we sped south to the Urgent Care center in Oakhurst. And after the paperwork, we waited another two hours to be seen by a doctor. I met several nice folks: little 8year old Johnnie was naked and needed stiiches in the back of his head. Mr. Croner had decided not to use the handguard on his table saw and lost the top of his thumb. Another older man had had chronic diahrea for the past 20 days and was severely dehydrated and refusing to use a bed pan. Ms. Creskie, well, I’m not sure what was wrong with her. She kept wandering in and out of the Emergency Room in a daze complaining that she didn’t have all day because she had things to do – particularly her husband’s laundry. What a good wife.

After the ordeal

When I finally did see a doctor I was told my hand would be OK. The wood didn’t splinter or leave chips deep in my hand and by the grace of God, I miraculously missed the Ulnar nerve in my palm by several millimeters. That is the nerve that controls your grip and finger motion. Had I hit that, my life as a computer programmer would be over. Well, I could continue to type one-handed and rise to fame as “Wiley One-Handed Willy”.

So praise God that I have my hand – the inconvenience of the pain and bandaging is minor. And we are now in the car heading south to Sequoia National Park.

Thanks for your prayers and concern,

One-Handed Willy

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