Would you believe a superb woodswoman such as myself was eh - turned around - in the forest for several hours, alone? Drama - Suspense - Survival - this story has it all!!
My family was tired of picking huckleberries before they ever got out of bed that morning - REAL TIRED - but I dragged them up there anyway. Onward the weary troops trudged up into the depths of a remote mountain, scouring the ridges for those precious berries. The picking was slim and I decided to push further back leaving the kids near my husband. Figuring myself to be somewhat more mobile, I decided to form an imaginary half circle around the group and meet up with them on the other side of it. Nose to the ground, I followed the huckleberry patches deeper and deeper into the ominous woods. Up and down, up and down I climbed all the while thinking I would meet up with my family any time. After a while, I noticed I wasn't seeing anybody. This should have clued a normal person in, but huckleberry fever consumed me and I reasoned I would see them before too long.
I pushed on toward what I thought was where we'd come from. Further and further I hiked. Soon I was moving through clearings, then dense woods, then up and down ridges. After an hour or so I began to have some concern. I called out but nobody answered. I hiked faster and further toward the way out only to find I was becoming more and more disoriented. Panic seized me and I yelled out all the louder but the only answer came from the forest sounds. Wind roared upon high peaks, birds chirped, but nothing human was audible. After walking for another half an hour I was really concerned and decided to fire my pistol. Surely somebody would come or call or even shoot back. I fired once and heard nothing but my ears ringing.
The more I walked the less I seemed to be getting anywhere. Several times I sat down and thought and prayed. Several times terror began to grip me. Several times I got up again and just made myself keep moving. I thought about the book my friends and I have been reading "Hinds Feet on High Places" and the little maiden who was following the shepherd into the mountain. I wanted to be mad at myself but I couldn't afford that luxury. I had to have faith that I could find my way out before dark. I really didn't want to sleep up there by myself. Thoughts of a search and rescue team tormented me along with the bear track I'd just crossed over. I could just imagine all kinds of crazy and embarrassing scenarios unfolding. I kept pushing on in the direction I thought was out.
After two or three hours, and altering my course of direction slightly a few times I had to admit to myself that there was no way I could be heading the right direction. The idea of turning around after walking all that way was almost unbearable but I knew it had to be done. Against my sense of direction, I turned around. Every bit of me seemed to be screaming out but I did it anyway. I walked in what I thought was the wrong direction for a long time.
Eventually I emerged into a big open place. I decided it was a good place to go to the bathroom. Maybe some searcher would see the last of my toilet paper napkin and know I'd been there. Then another scenario unfolded. A search and rescue team was converged there discussing my bathroom habits and excrement as a professional tracker scratched his head pondering. This was almost too much to bear, though it kept me moving forward.
Soon I was descending into thick thick brush. It was so dense I almost couldn't push through it. I wanted to turn around but something made me keep moving. It was probably the trackers image burned into my mind. Just when I started having serious doubts about my direction, I thought I heard a car horn. I'd been imagining sounds all day long, but it was enough to keep me moving.
Then I stumbled upon a spring coming up out of the ground. I remembered that you are always supposed to follow water if you are lost and also that there was a creek not far from where we were parked. This was the most wonderful thing I'd observed all day. Beautiful green moss and just a tiny trickle of clear, pristine water. After hot, rocky dry terrain, this was such an oasis of hope. I washed my face and dry cracked lips in the water and even dared take a few sips. Then, with visions of sugar plums (or rather my children) dancing in my head I followed that beautiful spring. It wasn't easy. Sometimes it disappeared back underground. Sometimes it ran under gigantic tree roots. Thorny thimble berry bushes grew all along the way and thorns scraped against my legs with every step.
I was wearing a thin pair of carpi's and the misadventure had not fared them well. Besides the thorny bushes, the dense woods had ripped a large and rather indecent hole in the, ahem, back side. What a sight I must have been, wild eyed - legs scratched up and bleeding, ripped up clothes and these crazy milk jug huckleberry carriers one off each hip along with my big old bear gun hanging down. If ever I was a laughable sight, this was probably it, though my husband didn't find the sight one bit amusing. After following the creek a long ways, I found the road and then half a mile up was our car.
The whole event was rather disturbing me to say the least, though I do have some good thoughts about it. I once was lost but now I am found. I was going the wrong direction in life (the way I thought was right), but I needed to turn around and not do what seemed right. Going the right way was hard and uncomfortable, but it was allot better than the alternative. Gosh, something about living springs of water rings a bell too. Maybe somebody should turn that into an inspirational message or something - lol.
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