A very merry Christmas to each of you!
Being lost in the deep forests of the Appalachian Mountains is something one takes all necessary precautions to avoid. I was not planning on being lost that day, tracking a wounded deer that normally just walks in circles until they lie down and die. I was not planning on a whiteout keeping me from locating my bearings, but I knew that in mountain survival tactics one heads down. So down and down I went, slipping, sliding, dropping things and falling as fast as I could in an attempt to beat the darkness of nightfall. The snow was now above my knees as I could no longer pull my legs up, but rather pushing them through the freezing white heaviness to take another step. I was feverishly praying, “Lord, please help me out of here!” Finally I hear a small trickle of a stream as I breathed a huge sigh of relief. A trickle often means a larger, faster flowing stream further down and that normally means eventual access to a bridge and a road.
Two hunters picked me up walking under the moonlight on an old snow-covered gravel based forestry road and they volunteered to take me back to where my vehicle was parked. I didn’t tell them I was lost, saving the embarrassment, but they kept asking, “You walked from mountain to mountain all the way from where?” My starting point was another county away. As best as we could figure over 12 miles was covered. I was soaked in sweat and I was sure they could hear my heart beating, as well as, my hands shaking partly out of exhaustion and partly out of fear. I had honestly entertained the thought that I might never see my wife and two young boys again. Seeing the warm glow of lights and wood smoke bellowing from the flu at the camp was a welcoming sight. It was a relief that finally put my whole spirit, soul and body at ease.
To be continued: lost a second time…