Backcountry Axe Injury

View Discretion is Advised: Photos are graphic

Oh man… This story from Jillian Brown is… well… We’ll let you read it. It’s one of my worst nightmares! Jillian is a true badass wilderness woman!

More Stories and Photos can be found on Instagram- @jillianabrownphotography & @campmyway

To me, the story I am about to share potentially might be one of those ones that “you had to be there, but once you see the videos you probably don’t want to have been- Kinda funny, but also definitely not funny, stories.” So read on and view at your own risk and sick sense of humor. “Are you ok?” “Yeah, it just hurts. ” I stated as I stood wondering what to do next, hand held above my head, while grasping it tightly by the other. “Think you need stitches bad? or like, get the fuck outta here now bad?” “Umm I think stitches?” “Ok, grab a seat… (as I begin to sit, directly where I stand), can you move over here a little bit? Gotta make sure you’re in frame.” Terrance asks as he points to a better spot for a video.

We had only just finished setting up basecamp for the next leg of our 75 day Tire’d of the Stigma PTSD awareness expedition. To which we had already flipped our 400lb tire while shackled in 60 pounds of chain up one mountain till we hit an impassible avalanche and decided to transfer to an adjacent slope. This is where we now found ourselves, roughly 5000 feet up and over 4400 above where we had started some 30 days ago. The Jeep nearly stuck in a number of feet of snow that we, some might say, stupidly decided to drive across thinking, “hey, by the time we leave for a resupply the snow will be melted and we’ll have no troubles…. ….”

The Camp My Way team (Jillian Brown -Terrance Kosikar & Guests ) Raising awareness to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and sharing the tools to recovery. Flipping a 400lb tire while shackled in 60lbs of chain from lake to mountain summit in the backcountry of British Columbia. Photo: Jillian A. Brown Photography – www.jillianabrownphotography.com

We unloaded the old kayaks; yes you read that right kayaks, on a mountain, to pack with water, extra winter gear, camera equipment, and all that was necessary for the next 35 days. Who needs to purchase expenses (or not, but we’re cheap… and broke) sleds for gear, when we’ve already got a couple perfectly good kayaks that slide magnificently across the snow. Ropes tethered to our packs and we are ready and off, immediately I’m grappling for some sort of handholds as the kayak tethered to me slips off the trail and pulls me along with it. Between the two of us we wrangle things back up, away from any sort of side slope and are back on track. Slow going, but we find our rhythm in no time and soon we are cresting the last hill to reach the location we had scouted out for camp.

Kayaks off and shovels out we dig in and build a beauty of a flat spot for our tent and all sets up with no fun stories to need to take the time to talk much more about. Unless you want to hear how beautiful it is to watch me inflate my Exped sleeping pad. Not to toot my own horn, but you may as well be watching a rhythmic ribbon dancer, gracefully flowing the vibrant orange bag and capturing that air, oh so majestically. It’s awe inspiring to those who have yet to master such an art. Sorry, I digress; just imagining what such grace must be like to witness.

Now that camp was established it was time for a fire Terrance sets off one direction and I another. I see a fallen, but above the snow dead tree that looks perfect. Our Camillus hatchet, with a folding saw in the handle was the perfect tool for this expedition, nice and lightweight, both tools in one, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

I climb through a small row of low brush and sink in the deep snow pulling myself up with the tree. I begin to saw and find there are a few branches that I may as well just chop off now while it’s all out of the snow and held solid. I whack off what I can, with a nice safe stance and before I move back I turn and place the saw back in the beginnings of a cut to make sure its now clear. One pull with an awkward grip and back, I readjust and pull, then push again, this time, however, the saws teeth bind in the wood and SNAP! SLAM! The saw closes… with my finger still in it. The snow is quick to be red and from my angle, I just see a cut. And because I’m basically super human (pretty sure I showcased that in my very descriptive telling of my sleeping pad inflation abilities) I calmly call out, “fuck, Terrance, I cut myself. I’m sorry.” Terrance’s immediate response, “ok, like cut your finger off or just stitches?” “hmm…umm… stictches?”

“Ok, put some snow on it and hold it above your head and come out here.” “But my glove!” “Forget about your damn glove! And come out here.” Making my way out from the forest I head over to where he stands. Queue video now and get the real life experience, way better than me trying to type out the extremely calm start to the conversation, to Terrance’s realization that my finger hangs on by a wee thread, but doesn’t want me to know as I still sit there with a “nice dry roads and rainbows attitude.” But his quickened pass and his, “Jill, you start hiking, now! I’ll grab what we need and catch up!” Tells me maybe its worse than I thought? As we arrive at the Jeep, Terrance rips his shirt up, tourniquets my finger together and asks me to hold on! We now have a 2 and a half our (if we are lucky and actually make it through the snow drive) to get to a hospital. Well guess what? We make it and after a quick couple stitches by the small town doctor to hold the finger on, we are back on the road for 4 more hours to reach the surgery room. Pins drilled in, nerves and tendons reattached as best possible and the following day?

“Jill we should maybe go home and rest a couple days.” “FUCK THAT! I’m sorry, it’s just a cut finger” and that day, I’m back reunited with the glove that I was so worried about back at base camp, in the snow, with a full belly of 6 hour away pizza.

Writing and Photos: Jillian A. Brown (@jillianabrownphotography)

2 Responses to “Backcountry Axe Injury

  • Michael J Brown
    3 months ago

    Wow, just WOW!!!

  • Papaw Richard Day
    3 months ago

    Well, everytime ive read reference to this incidence my rear end puckers up reaaaaaalllll tight.

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