Monday, June 04, 2007

The Lost Birthday Wish

Ever gotten lost? You know that disorientated, heart-racing surge of where-am-I doom feeling for hours? You probably haven't if you've stayed on the designated trails.
Yesterday I left the known path and crossed down boulder fields to reach an alpine lake nestled in pines and cattails. Just a little side adventure. I wanted to help fulfill my friend's birthday wish of swimming in an alpine lake. After the icy plunge, we climbed over the dumpster-sized boulders back to our Great Western Trail. Thirty minutes later we still hadn't reached the well-marked GWT path and decided to return to the boulder field. We never did find those particular rocks. The downed dense timber slowed us but we persevered through thick folage as evening descended. I realized we were walking in circles because my shadow followed me from different sides. Finally we stumbled on a creek and we hacked our way down the stream until it became a marsh.
I took stock of what I had on me to survive the night: small knife, a tarp, quart of water, some jerky, fleece headband and my dog. Knowing I could live through the night kept me calm and moving.
Back up the creek, we crashed through twisted branches and soft satuated soil. We didn't know where else to go but higher to spy any landmarks we knew above the trees.
After three hours my girlfriend got her birthday wish: She found the Great Western Trail after her swim. This is her lost birthday present. Next year will be the year of the compass and map.