The story of Scratch

I met Scratch today, sitting on the side of the Community Building at 4 Pines Hostel. He had a large pickup and said he'd just come back from some Trail Angeling.

Asked if he'd ever hiked the Trail, and he said several sections including this year. He started a thru with his daughter, and as they reached the border sign between Georgia and North Carolina, he turned to say something and all he could hear was his daughter saying, "No","NO!", and yelling "OH MY GOD!"

He realized he was on his back and daughter was pointing at his foot saying "Dad it's not right." And it wasn't, his foot was pointed 90 degrees from where it should be and, being a medic, he realized he'd broken his ankle. He knew the pain was coming and had to move fast, so he pulled his foot out and away, and it plunked into place. And then the pain came, incredible throbbing, immense pain.

There's a hiker camp up the ways a bit and hikers jumped to action. A crew from a Georgia volunteer fire squad showed up, but said he was too big to carry down the hill. They knew a guy with mules, but the mule guy said he wasn't going to let his mules die up there. So they needed a helicopter.

A helicopter started heading their way, and the hikers found a likely landing place (there's tons of ex-military on the Trail) next to the camp, and started clearing young trees and bushes with their small trail knifes. The volunteer captain comes over and says "the helicopter pilot says the need fifty-thousand to do the lift."

Scratch tells him no way, he'd have to get one or two mortgages on his home, he didn't have that kind of savings, was retired. Just couldn't pay that much.

So the volunteer captain goes back and calls the helicopter pilot again. He comes back about 10 minutes later and says they can get it down to $25,000.

Scratch basically goes through the same explanations, saying its much too expensive for him and he can't afford it.

"Okay", says the volunteers captain, "let me talk to them again."

Comes back after a few minutes and says "Good news, they'll do it for free."

So the helicopter is the personal helicopter for the governor of the state of Georgia. He needed some way to cover the costs but then decided that the evacuation could be used as a training mission. Turns out the helicopter pilot and the crew had never actually done a medical evacuation and so this would give them an opportunity to do so.

Scratch says they show up, drop the basket, crew comes down and are buoyant. Didn't think they'd get a chance to do a medical evacuation. Get Scratch up and away and decide to land at the volunteer's captain's front lawn. Captain called his family, who called everybody, so when they arrived the whole town was there, cheering.

Wife drove up from Florida and he had surgery there. He's now recovering, following/leading his daughter's hike by Trail Angeling. Bought a big gas powered griddle and burners, does breakfast to order at some locations, burgers and dogs at others.

Perhaps I'll see him again further north.


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