Kenneth – Hypothermia

Kenneth: Cold Crisis in California Mountains

I was backpacking in the Trinity Alps Wilderness in CA with my wife. The topo maps we had gathered to plan our hike were found to be wrong due to flood damage just before the season (too late to make changes).

The plan was for a 10 day trip, but that changed. After hiking twice the originally planned distance due to previously mentioned flood damage, we arrived at our “site/home base”. We set up camp (2 person tent) and had dinner.

After going to bed and falling asleep, I was awakened by my wife “bumping/hitting” me. When I tried to ask her what was wrong, she was not able to respond, and could only give that 1000 yard stare. I immediately determined the hike had been too much for her and, because of that and the cold, realized she was in hypothermia.

I got her undressed, put her bag into mine, and climbed in with her (also naked) to get her warmed up. It took about 30 – 45 minutes before she was able to respond to questions and admitted she was tired and cold.

She wanted a cup of hot chocolate, so I got up and dressed. Upon existing the tent, I saw that it had snowed (2″ worth) – by the way – we did NOT have 4-season equipment.

Short story; made the hot chocolate, found another camper (actually hunter, as we found out it was also the opening of hunting season) and gave him all our food.

We hike out with me carrying all the equipment and got into town where we found a small cottage rental. We stayed there for the remainder of the trip (new base camp).

I am also CERT certified and have a LOT of backpacking experience, so I am glad I was able to recognize and treat her. Everyone going into the wild should be prepared and able to address an emergency should it arrive.

We continued backpacking until kids came along and then took a break for a while.