A day of survival in the desert

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Night Stalker
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A day of survival in the desert

Post by Night Stalker »

I haven’t been here in awhile with good reason I think. Below is my story of a great day that went bad. The day was March 25, 2018, we thought it would be a great day for a horse back ride

I’m writing this in hopes of explaining how a fun day became a day of survival. I’m not a writer nor have I ever thought of my self as a survival expert or an expert rider. This is how I got into trouble and what worked for me to survive a bad situation.

On March 25 a good friend and I were doing pre ride into the Wickenburg Massacre Site . The plan has been to lead a group of riders, into the site before it gets to hot, but this year has been a strange one, with one problem after another popping up causing delays at every turn, but finally the preparations were completed and we were off.

I need to give a quick description of my preparations before continuing, I usually make them the same on every trip. Coordinates are down loaded into the GPS and a written set of coordinates are left in an open place Just incase something happens. In this case, a sticky note of the coordinates was left on my desk in front of the computer. I had taken a screen Snap shop of Google Earth showing a satellite pic of my target location the coordinates on my phone and told my wife where I was headed. I always do this, even if I know the area just in case. On rides that I’m going with a group, I mark the location where the truck and trailer will be parked. After this experience, my preparations are in need of reevaluation.

With all this explained we met at Safeway in Wickenburg, and drove into the trail head. A short time later, we had our mounts saddled and was off.

At this point Id like to say there were warning signs or omens every where that we should load back up and go home but there wasn’t. Doc was being normal (a good boy) and there were no indication that life was about to become so screwed up.

The ride in was going great, we had decided to stay off the roads going in figuring that anything interesting to be found would be away from the roads. Following the GPS in was pretty easy, at one point Doc and I had to go high to see in front of us. I had been there once with my wife by Jeep in 2012, so I had an Idea where I was going, But at this point I was telling my friend this looks wrong. Things had grown up changing the view.

As Doc and went up the side of the almost vertical mountain, I remember how amazing Doc was. The ease at which he picked his way up the mountain and then skirting the top to a good look out point, and then off the other side and back down to my friend. I determined its still a ways on.

At about 11:45am or 12:00pm, we arrived at our destination. We dismounted tied up the mounts and began to explore the graves while I was explaining how the ambush took place. Off to the North another grave can be found but this time it was marked with the name Coyote Red Feather but to my knowledge, this grave is unrelated to the Wickenburg Massacre.

We ate a sandwich, talked, joked, and took pictures. I was enjoying the company and just being out in the wild desert, I find at times, I’m more at home in the Outback of Arizona than in the city. I find it quiet and comforting and in the right places untouched by humans.

At about 100 pm we decided to mount back up and head out a different way. I have had knee issues ever since being in the military and today it was acting up. I couldn’t get it to bend to climb on so I decided to put Doc in a low spot to step on. A maneuver we have done before, not a big deal, so I thought. Doc was in position, I stepped with my left foot and went to swing over, when Doc moved swinging his butt out and away, just enough for me to not make it all the way a crossed him and spurring him in the flank. Doc responded by panicking and bolting and me still not fully on. So off we went me hanging to the left side but I was with him till he made a cutting turn to the right, and I cam off on the left.

As I hit the ground head first (probably what kept from killing me) and left shoulder, instantly knocking the breath out of me, and I guess unconscious, because my friend later told me I was drug for about five feet. He was considering shooting Doc to get him stopped when he saw me kick the stirrup to break myself free. My friend came over, help me up and to a shady area in the wash. I was breathing hard but was talking and confused as to what the hell happened. We figured I was ok gonna be sore but needed Doc to get out, so my friend went after him.

Shortly after my friend took off, while sitting in the wash partially under the tree, military training kicked in. I found my self doing self triage. I knew I had broke ribs because they felt like the were dangling along with the pain. My left side was locked up unable to straighten my arm do to pain and at about thirty minute mark I believed a lung could’ve been punctured since I was starting to see black dots floating in front of my eyes. An indication I took as low air and I was panting uncontrollably and to top it all off I was going into shock, all of which conditions I recognize as serious. This is when I also realized I still had my cell phone. I was able to pull the phone finding the battery in the red. I laid a rolled up jacket on the ground found my wife’s number hit send and laid it on the jacket placing my ear on it, the only way I could get a signal. I got my wife’s voice mail where all I could do was explain I was hurt, my phone was almost dead call me. When she called back I explained I was at the Massacre site( hoping it would be easier for rescuers to figure out my position and get to me). I sent the satellite image and coordinates to my brother, later finding out he never got it.

At about the 45 minute mark people came by on ATV’s and for reasons I cant explain, I couldn’t say anything. I had unbelted my gun and it was behind me, so I couldn’t reach it to fire a signal shot and didn’t know if I wanted to. Its like military training kicked back in and I remember thinking don’t get caught. I think it was lack of oxygen to my brain playing tricks

At that point I started trying to find a good breathing position and started to slow my breathing. The position was sitting up leaning right on my right arm, with my legs bent at the knees out to the left. I could breath better but a hard position to maintain. In this position when the dots appeared I would calm my self till they passed and snooze conserving energy. At about 5:00 the Wickenburg Fire dept was able to finally locate me. An air medivac was brought in and took me to a Trauma Center where I spent the next eight days.
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Re: A day of survival in the desert

Post by Jim_b »

I like happy ending
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Re: A day of survival in the desert

Post by BenjaminFoster »

Nice story. I can give some tips how to survive the heat in desert.
Shelter from the sun, heat and possible sandstorms is essential to survive in the desert. Since there is generally no material to build a shelter, use the following methods.
Provide yourself some kind of sun protection by covering your body with sand.
Burying in sand also reduces moisture loss.
If you have a parachute or other suitable material, dig a depression and cover the edges. In rocky deserts or deserts where there are bushes, thorns, or bumps overgrown with tall grass, throw a parachute or blanket over rocks or bushes.
Use both natural and man-made features such as a tree, rock, pile of rocks, or a cave to create shade or cover. The wall of a dry riverbed can serve as a shelter, but if clouds roll in, your shelter can be unexpectedly flooded with water. Shores along dry riverbeds, valleys and ravines are especially good places to find caves.
Use native shelters if possible the term papers.
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