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My friend and I left Spokane, WA to set out on a 6 day, mostly off-trail traverse of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. On the 3rd day, we set up base camp at Upper Redfish Lakes, planning to spend an extra day exploring the area. On day 4, we awoke at 5:30 to eat breakfast and take off on an 8-mile day hike through some of the surrounding lake basins. We donned our backpacks loaded with the essentials and headed north, off trail through the trees and across talus slopes. We climbed through class-3 gullies to the top of a 9400’ pass, then descended over ledges and talus to the shore of Warbonnet Lake. Some of the rocks were loose here, so we took our time as we made our way around the south side of the lake. My friend stepped on a rock that flipped over and hit her ankle, knocking her over on her back in a large depression between the boulders. Her backpack absorbed most of the impact of the fall, but her ankle was injured. I wrapped her ankle and tried icing it with a plastic bag filled with lake water. We rested and elevated her ankle for a while, then we decided to see if she could bear weight. There was still a lot of pain and I had my doubts, so I improvised a splint. She slowly lowered her leg and put some pressure on her foot, then felt a pop and a sharp bolt of pain shooting through her ankle.
It was clear that walking out of here would be impossible. We were miles away from a trail, about as deep in the wilderness as you can get. We knew that it could be days before another person passed our way and we were fully exposed to the elements, with very few options for taking shelter. We were surrounded by huge rocks and boulders, making it extremely difficult for my friend to move around. I spread a mylar space blanket over a flat boulder and placed rocks on top in the form of an “X”. I was hoping this would aid rescuers in spotting us from the air. Then, I removed my PLB from the hip pocket of my backpack and activated it. We waited by the lake for over 4 hours before we heard the pulsating hum of rotor blades. An Army National Guard Blackhawk flew over and spotted us. They hovered over our position and lowered a rescuer with a rescue seat. My friend was hoisted up into the cabin first. As I was lifted off the ground I watched the lake shrink beneath my feet. We were off to Stanley, Idaho. From there, the Deputy Sheriff escorted us to the trail-head where we had a car waiting. I drove my friend to a doctor in Spokane.
We'd like to thank ACR for making such a great beacon.
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