posted on Aug, 12 2016 @ 10:54 AM
As I walked further up the canyon wash I soon realized that there must be a spring ahead as I could see a small pool of water at the end of dry
vastness that seemed to stretch on in all directions for miles. Watch your step, now is no time to trip. Now you have a chance.
Thirteen days ago I set out on what I expected to be a three day hike through some privately owned canyon land. Of course I didn’t ask the owner. I
never do. Of course I didn’t tell my family and friends where I was going. I never did.
Regret is not an emotion you want to struggle with when you are lost. I knew that the most important thing for me in this moment was to remain calm.
And so I did. I pretended as if it were normal to be gone for nearly two weeks out in the harshness of the wild with only minimal gear and boiled
rainwater collected in my boiling pan as I slept under the juniper trees that edged the washes.
Walking in the beating rays of the sun from roughly 11 am to 5 pm was brutal. I had so little water and I could feel myself sweating so much when I
attempted to travel to high ground on days one and two of being lost.
This spring is a game changer. You’re not going to die out here. For days I had been contemplating how I would die. Who would find my body?
Approaching the small pool of water, I realize the water is stagnant. Hardly something I would consider drinking even after a thorough boiling. At
this point I knew I could reach a reliable spring given a day of hiking. The wash was located in the bottom of a 400 foot deep canyon older than the
oldest tales of man. Getting steeper as I tracked the source of the water further up to higher ground, the wash was strewn with boulders, some
approaching the size of small houses.
Every foot placement counts now. One wrong step and I could easily break my ankle. There’s no way I’ve come this far and lived for this long out
here to die to a foolish mistake like that. I climb carefully. Later that day when the sun was orange and ready to rest, I reached what I had been
seeking, the source of the water. It poured out of what appeared to be nothing more than a pile of crumbled sandstone at the base of a shear canyon
cliff. Drinking the water and feeling its coolness on my hands and face comforted me. It took me to my childhood memories of trout fishing obscure
mountain streams in my home state of Colorado, the coolness of the mountain stream on my legs as I waded out into the water for a better casting
Luckily I’ve always been odd about what I pack when I hike. My friends laughed at me when I told them I pack two pounds of roasted almonds for my
solo hikes to prevent starvation in the event that I get lost. Who is laughing now you ultra-light, yuppie trail walkers? I have thought of being lost
before, and in the past it turned me on. I welcomed it. Bring it on! I had been solo elk hunting thick woods for the better part of 25 years.
Sometimes I would camp 90 miles back into the deepest spots that no one goes to and set up camp for two weeks at a time. Hopefully my hunting days
aren’t over; I just need to find a house or a road. A sign. Any sign of ‘civilization’ would be great at this point.
Refreshed and bathed by the seemingly eternal waters of the canyon rim, I climbed even higher up the canyon in good spirit. My goal now was to climb
my way completely out of the canyon and look for a road or buildings. I knew the canyon was surrounded on most sides by a large cattle ranch. If only
I can run into the people who work this land perhaps I’ll see my family again. After an entire day of the most exhausting and sketchy free climbing
no ropes fun you can imagine I was thoroughly fatigued, but mentally thrilled. I had done it. I was now camping under the fragrant and welcoming
branches of what seemed to be an almost ancient cedar tree overlooking the canyon. I wondered what the tree had seen as I feel asleep next to my fire
that night. Tomorrow I will find someone and get to go home. I never thought I’d say this, but I’ll actually be happy to see the city idiots
It was a cold morning when I awoke to find my fire burned out but still smoking heavily. It must have been the resin from some of the green cedar I
burned to keep the bugs off me. I boiled a cup of spring water that I had collected the day before and made a stout pot of coffee. Gathering my
things, I try to return my campsite to its prior state, but it’s hard to hide a campfire in certain environments. Heading off on foot I am feeling
confident that I will find a ranch house or even run into a worker and be rescued.
Is that a house in those trees? Probably just wishful thinking. No, that’s a house! I begin running in full strides screaming in elation, hands
flapping in the air like a wild man. And then it happened. An older man with all white hair emerged from the front door of the building. I didn’t
feel relief as I had suspected I would, but instead I felt immense terror. I realized the man carried a rifle and he was clearly aiming his rifle and
leading me as I started to slow from my run. The sound of the bullet as it passed through my spine was unlike anything I had ever heard. Within three
seconds I died.