Thursday, June 1st, 2006

Ha, I’m Back!

It only took me seven months.

Last time I updated this website was mid November, 2005, when the Pinnacles season started. Well, for Erik at least. I managed to trick him into going to Joshua Tree on Thanksgiving, but not for long — we returned earlier just so that he could climb at Pinnacles on the last day of our trip.

After that trip, the weather fairy turned on her faucet and forgot to turn it off for a few months. To escape the rain in California, we spent the Christmas vacation in Washington State. After we returned home, something happened.



I broke my finger!


I took a big fall on a manky screw placement on a frozen waterfall when myshoestring rope wrapped around my finger and SNAP!That’s how I should have told the story according to my friend Tim. A slightly different — and more accurate — version is, on New Year’s Eve, while rearranging furniture, my 27″ CRT TV tipped over face down onto the coffee table with my left hand sandwiched in between (because the heroic inner me was trying to stop it from falling). The middle finger, being the longest one and taking most of the impact, broke in the first knuckle. I learned two things from this unfortunate accident: standing out (being the tallest) is not necessary a good thing, and TV is NOT good for ya! The good news is, the TV still works. We watched Finding Nemo when I kept my finger immersed in a bucket of icy water. The movie brought laughs to my teary eyes.Next day, we went to the hospital. Yep, it was broken. My finger was put on a splint and I was sent home. Two months later, I went back to the doctor. To my disappointment, the broken finger did not heal the way we had planned for it — it became worse. Not only the broken piece did not re-attach, but also there was dislocation and degeneration in the first knuckle.



X-ray taken on Jan 1, 2006



X-ray taken on Feb 23, 2006

Now, even after almost half a year, the knuckle is still swolen and there is still constant pain any time I put pressure on that finger. The doctor suggests fuse the joint, the only way to rid the pain and gain back the strength. But scared of any surgery, I decide to live with the pain. So, it means hard climbing is out for me. I have to find some other hobby. So



I got into scuba diving!


What is scuba diving? SCUBA is an acronym for “Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”. How long can you stay under water in a swimming pool? A minute, or two? Not very long. However, if you carry a tank full of compressed air (at high pressure), you can breathe the air from the tank through a hose and a mouth piece (called a regulator) that delivers the air to you at ambient pressure. This way, you can stay down in the water for as long as the tank allows. That’s pretty much how it works.Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not that simple. On Wikipedia for Scuba Diving, there is a good description on diving issues. Due to the inherent danger, certification is required for scuba diving. While I couldn’t climb with a broken finger, in January, I attended training by Bill, a certified Scuba Diving instructor, also a friend of Erik’s. Also, with Erik’s help, I became a certified Scuba diver.From Feburary to June, I’ve done more than thirty dives. Most of the time, we go to Monterey Bay, two hours down south from the San Francisco Bay Area. We’ve also taken a boat trip to Channel Islands out of Santa Barbara. Once, we went north near Mendocino and Erik did abalone diving. He brought home some huge abalones.The scenary under water is usually beautiful. I’m more than amazed everytime I enter the underwater world. On land, the water looks the same, but below the surface it can be very different. There is sandy bottom, as well as rocky bottom. Some places are scattered with tall pinnacles. A lot of lifes live under water. I’ve seen a lot more fish during the last few months than I had in my previous life. Seeing a harbor seal swimming up close is always exciting. They look so huge and slow on land, but they move around gracefully in the water — they look so cute. The invertebrate are colorful and abundant. I pretty much have given up trying to identify them — there are just so many of them. Oh, and the bioluminescence that you only see in night dives. It’s like in a dream. Wish we had a waterproof camera (or camera housing). Since we don’t, we just have to make friends with people who have them. I cannot believe how clear the photos turned out to be — It’s like we are posing in a fish tank.


Our only together photo in the water. (photo courtesy of Erik Bratton)
Does Erik look frightened? (photo courtesy of Erik Bratton)
In contrast, don't I look a lot more relaxed? (photo courtesy of Erik Bratton)

Move the mouse over the thumbnails to see the images and captions. Click on the thumbnails to see full size.

He caught this red vermillion on our Channel Island trip.
Kristy and lobsters
Erik's harvest from the Russion Gulch trip -- three abalones and a big lingcod.

Occasionally, we do boat dives — we gear up, jump in the water and start kicking down. But most of the time, we do shore dives, which means we enter the ocean from shore, and kick out a distance before we drop down. It is more physically demanding and sometimes, entering and exiting through breaking waves can be tricky. And ultimately, a big challenge lies in going deep. So far, I’ve been to 130′ feet deep off of Monestary Beach. At that depth, and high pressure, the air is consumed faster, the water feels colder because the insulation between the body and water is compressed thinner, and the world seems darker because lots of sun light has been absorbed on the way down. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

Now, going further down from the sea level has become an attraction to me, but it doesn’t mean that I no longer want to go higher up. (A colleague has summarized it up for me — I seem to have problems with the sea level.) So,



I am still climbing!


Between the weather and diving, We managed to make it out to Pinnacles a few times. One time, when Erik worked on putting up a new route, I belayed him for 6 hours straight in the shade. I couldn’t sit down because it was wet everywhere. It might sound miserable, but it was really a fun day out. And there were days that I actually climbed too. Climbing no longer feels the same as the middle finger demands lots of attention nowadays, but it is as exciting as always. Especially, now that the rain season is finally over, the abundant sunshine is calling upon us to go out and climb.As a matter of fact, I’m in the process of writing a trip report about climbing a wall. Check back in a few days and find out on which wall we spent a night under the full moon. After that, some thing big happened in my life, that is, bigger than a 32″ TV. Stay tuned because I am going to write about it.


2 Responses

  1. Mikeon 06 Nov 2010 at 7:34 pm

    I found your site by searching broken finger. I have broken my pinky finger, looks almost identical to your xray. A piece of the bone is still “floating” around after 5 weeks in a splint. Heading back to the dr. this week. Did you ever have any surgery on the finger?

  2. mudwormon 06 Nov 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Mike, bummer about your finger. No, I have never had surgery done. After so many years, if you look closely, that knuckle does look a little different (a little bigger), but it’s not something other people can notice. These days, I don’t suffer any ill effect from that injury — it functions normal and there is no pain. Good luck with your healing!