Another + to both ken and nick.
I help people for a living. It makes me feel wonderful, and very few things in life are as satisfying as that.
HOWEVER, I also have a major intolerance for incompetence, and the one time I had to call EMS on the trail only ticked me off, it didn't make me happy at all.
I had had hip surgery that spring, it was my birthday trip and I had taken 2 days off work to make a nice 4-day weekend to take my first hike since my surgery. I was thrilled!!
There were 5 of us going...including a 14 year old who was on her first backpacking trip.
And there was Margie. She was a 65-year-old retired school nurse who was also a diabetic. Apparently she had been in a car accident earlier that week when she accidentally accelerated her car into a bank wall, but never bothered to tell us. She also was carrying not only the 10 essentials, but both a tent AND a hammock (she wanted to try it out), and obviously a great deal else, all in a pack that was easily as big as she was. And nearly as heavy; I couldn't lift it out of the back of the van to get my pack. She wanted everyone to wait for her while she rested every 20 feet, to have people help pull her up steps that she couldn't step up (because her pack was so heavy)...
Long story short, she started having trouble right away - but didn't really say anything - I waited for her at the top of a climb (the others had hiked ahead), had a snack, read a book, napped...then a gentleman came up to tell me that my "friend" had fallen off the hill. She was ok, but needed help.
So, I hiked back down the hill, goaded her back up (the closest road was ahead of us), and after much argument just ended up calling 911. She was having a stroke. By the time I called, it was 6pm...we had been hiking for 10 hours and had only covered 4 miles.
Needless to say it was a huge damper on our trip, the 14 year old was pretty upset, and the whole thing pretty much ruined my birthday weekend. Of course I was going to help, but wow she should have never gone with us.
Moral of this story?
A) be VERY careful about who you let join you for trips
B) some people need to find different hobbies
A few years later do I feel good about this? Not at all. I'm still angry at her for putting me in that situation, and now I can no longer just go on any hiking trip that comes up...I've become a hiking snob and now I'm very, very picky about who my companions are.
And I really, really need to just make myself go on a solo trip. Just me and the pooch........