|Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ|
|Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ|| |
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ
|Car Camping||7.00 Miles
|Car Camping||7.00 Miles|
|121 ft AEG|
|My first trip to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument!
It was a great success right up until the point where I ended up in the emergency room of Tucson's University Medical Center - we will get to that soon.
DAY 1, Thursday March 30th
Arrived early Friday afternoon and found that all the tent spots with shade ramadas were already occupied, so I ended up picking #208 ... the end of the line. The tenting area averaged about half full - the RV areas maybe 1/3 full.
Quick trip to the Kris Eggle V.C. to buy a few souveniers and sign up for Friday's Ranger-led trip to Quitobaquito Springs. The tribute to Ranger Eggle outside made me tear up.
Back to the tent, and then headed out on the Victoria Mine trail. I wasn't really in the right state of mind for the hike - hadn't relaxed yet, and between walking directly into the sun and the wind blasting in my face I didn't enjoy it too much. It's a gorgeous slice of Sonoran Desert for sure, but nothing really new to me ... I don't know what I expected. The few times the wind died down enough for me to deploy my new Gossamer Gear umbrella I really liked it - definitely something to be said for hiking in your own bubble of shade! The flowers were pretty impressive too. After spending a few minutes exploring the mine area, I headed back and enjoyed having the sun and wind at my back this time.
After watching a fun group of women perpetrate some campground shenanigans with a Hello Kitty kite, I busted out my book - began re-reading the fascinating "The Devil's Highway" by Luis Alberto Urrea ... it was made all the more riveting this time around since I was reading in the very area where the action unfolded. It was so good that I stayed up reading until I finished it at almost midnight. The book states that back then there 200,000 people crossing thru ORPI every year - I can't even imagine what it must have been like! Just crawling with crossers and Border Patrol. On this trip I saw none of the former, but plenty of the latter. Don't know if it's still considered the "most dangerous National Park", but it seemed safe and serene to me.
Side note - as I was watching my air mattress inflate, out popped a big nasty scorpion ... as if I figured ORPI didn't have enough scorpions, I brought my own from home!
DAY 2, Friday March 31st
Up at 6am with the sun - slept well and felt good. Noticed a small but semi-nasty looking bite on my wrist, which would sometimes itch intensely ... no big deal.
Headed out Puerto Blanco road a ways to hike the short Red Tank Tinajas trail. Noticed a Humane Borders water station there - it made an impact on me especially because of the book ... the suffering of death out there in desert is unimaginable. The tanks weren't much - one pothole holding maybe 3 gallons of water, but it was a nice warm up hike.
Upon arriving back at the campground, I cruised thru looking for anyone departing a site with a ramada, and Bingo! Quickly claimed #187 and moved my stuff ... much better, especially since I was able to hang my hammock from the ramada poles. Enjoyed some down time around camp, and was finally relaxed, happy to be there and in the right frame of mind.
Soon it was time to head over to the campground pick-up spot to meet the Ranger and shuttle out to Quitobaquito. Saw my first rattlesnake of the year along the way - a western diamondback crossing the campground road.
Shared the van ride with a couple from CA and a family from Germany ... it was a fun, bouncy ride! Along the way, I noticed that my bug bite was looking a little redder, but still wasn't too concerned.
It was interesting to see the different border fences along the way. For about 5 miles from Lukeville/Sonoita, there is a pedestrian fence - couldn't really tell how tall since we weren't that close at this point, but it was interesting to see how it ran up and down some pretty big/steep hills. Farther on we were driving right next to the fence, but it was just a vehicle barrier by then, as it should be. The Germans were quite interested in the fence (and possible future "wall") and the CA couple and myself shared similar views about the whole thing. At the Quitobaquito parking area, we checked out the fence - why is it so tempting to hop over and back? There were two useless strands of "barbed" wire - the lower one actually being barb-less ... we discussed pronghorns and jaguars and such crossing ... don't think the young seasonal Ranger knew about proghorns not liking to jump.
It was great to finally see Quitobaquito! I never would have guessed how shallow it is. There were some researchers there doing a study on the desert pupfish and mud turtle populations, so we got a good look at the adorable pupfish. I was a bit sad that the famous cottonwood tree you see leaning out over the water in many picture is no longer there - missed it by about 6 months.
After getting back to camp, I was off on a quick trip to Ajo for ice and a yummy Pizza Hut pizza. Stopped at the WHY NOT store for gas and had a nice encounter with a LE Ranger - love those guys!
Strolled up to the campground amphitheater for the 8pm program, but it wasn't very interesting to me and I left early.
DAY 3, Saturday April 1st
Felt good when I woke up and set about getting going for my planned Arch Canyon hike. When I took off my fleece to change into hiking clothes I got a nasty surprise - the bug bite on my right wrist now had a bright red line of infection streaking up to my elbow. Uh-oh, no bueno! I knew I had to deal with it, so I got online and found out the Ajo clinic is closed on weekends - so I would have to head back towards home and seek treatment in Tucson.
I stopped at the V.C. to get my "hike for health" pin and desert ranger patch ... I love all the free stuff that NPS gives out. I showed the Ranger and volunteer my arm, and they were quite concerned ... they were thinking brown recluse spider, which had certainly occurred to me. The volunteer wanted to call EMT Rangers, but I told him it's ok - I promise I am headed straight to Tucson for treatment. The Ranger was most sympathetic about me having to scrap the Arch Canyon hike - she said it's a good one.
Two and a half hours is a long way to drive when you're worried about your damn arm falling off!
I stopped at the convenience store in Sells and the Fire Chief happened to be there. He thought brown recluse too, and told me to not bother with an urgent care clinic - he said go directly to the UMC emergency room. He also made me promise to pull over and call 911 if I started having trouble breathing ... now I am getting really worried.
Made it through the 4th and final Border Patrol checkpoint - had a good chat with the Agent there.
I finally arrived at the ER and was whisked in for my work-up within 5 minutes. This was my first visit to an Emergency Room and from what the various doctors and others were saying, it seemed like it would turn into my first night in a hospital too. I called Michelle to let her know to take care of my cats.
Over the course of the next five hours I received more medical attention than probably my whole life combined. I had vitals taken and blood drawn several times, got two different IV antibiotics, a tetanus shot, a Benadryl shot, and more oral antibiotics. Nobody could believe that it didn't really hurt - the first doc even offered me morphine, which I almost accepted just because it sounded fun to try - glad I said no thanks though, or else I wouldn't have been able to drive home. The doctor who seemed to know the most about it thought that my bite was from a cone-nosed kissing bug, since it didn't hurt when it happened, and just itched afterwards. They put me in an observation room after all that, and an hour later I asked to be discharged instead of spending the night, and they agreed. It was a long, uncomfortable two hour drive home, with both arms hurting - the left was worse from all the needles - and all those drugs coursing through my system.
Finally got home, showered, and gratefully collapsed on my couch. Nothing felt better than my bed that night.
So today, it is more sore - but less red. My face is swollen up due to the antibiotics. I think it's gonna be ok, but I have packed a bag and prepared for a return visit to the hospital if need be. Hope this doesn't put me down for the whole rest of my vacation!
||Wildflowers Observation Substantial
wildflowers and cactus blooms
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