My friend Dave Martin and I came out to the Coast at the 5000 foot level.
The view was absolutely fantastic so we stopped for some pictures. We decided
to climb to the top of the mountain peak for a better view, it only took about
twenty minutes. When we came back down, we kept coming and coming and
coming some more. Each of us
said, "We need to go this way", or "That Way," then I said, "This
is the creek that goes right past our car, let's follow it." It was a real experience. We
walked for eight and a half hours, crossed stream after stream and then large,
almost rivers. It was a Sunday morning and everything was fantastically
beautiful. But, after all this walking, we finally admitted that we were lost.
So we stopped and talked about what had just happened and decided that we came
down the wrong side of the mountain. I said that the ocean was this way, West,
and so we started climbing peak after peak, picking a straight line back to the
coast. As we got to the tops of the peaks, there were Manzanita trees growing
so thick that we couldn't get through the patches. We had no choice and had to
climb the trees and walk over the tops of the branches. Dave was heavier than
me so he had a lot bigger problem than I did. The branches would break and we
would fall half the way down the tree before we were stopped by the thicket,
then we would have to climb back up. It was a lot of work. Once over that
peak, we had to climb several other peaks that were the same way.
Finally, I said that I could tell that over the next hill was the down slope for
the coast and that we needed to start heading South. So South we went. We got
to the bottom of a ravine and the sun was setting, so we decided to stay
overnight there. Our clothes were ripped to shreds' and our skin was scratched
everywhere. We started a fire and drank out of the stream. We had no food and
no coats or any survival gear, just ripped up T-shirts, we were a mess. I had
to sleep face down on the ground with my arms folded under my chest, just to
keep warm. The temperatures in the costal mountains go down to the lower
fifties and even lower at this time of year. Dave didn't know it, but I was so
exhausted that I couldn't get up and feed the fire, so he did the feeding all
night. I don't know, but if he didn't do that, we may have died of exposure.
Anyway, the next morning we started walking again climbing over one more peak
and down the other side. It was the exact same peak that we climbed the earlier
day to take a picture. We came out to the road right exactly to the car that
was just sitting there waiting for us.
Now this was Monday morning and we were over a hundred miles of mountain roads
away from the base. We stopped at a little country store just outside of the
Hunter Liggett Military Reservation and as soon as we walked into the store, the
man and woman said, "Were you lost"? Absolutely, was the answer, but we really
didn't want to admit it. For some reason we couldn't reach the base with their
phone, so we got some food and drink and started driving. We never got back to
the base and the place that we worked until about three p.m. We walked into the
shop, knowing that we were AWOL and were in trouble with the boss, and as soon
as we did, the boss said that we had the day off. "WHAT! What, how did we get
the day off", we said. The boss said that he knew that we were lost and he gave
us the day off. "How did you know we were lost", I asked. The boss said that
when he asked what happened to Martin and Dyrek, the guys told him that we went
to the mountains. He went on to say that since he knew it was with Dyrek, he
knew that we were lost.
What he really meant was that since he knew it was with me, that we were either
lost or dead or we would have been back. That's what you call reliability. He
knew that I was reliable enough to at least die rather than be AWOL.
So, why did I write this story? It's because that if you think that you can
never get lost, or never have any problems, it's when you least expect it that
when it happens. And, if you are an explorer or guide and you have never been
lost or never had a problem, you are not an experienced explorer. One saying
that I have always heard is, "There are those who have and those who will".