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Story, Lost in the Mountains, West of King City, on the California Coast.

C. Jeff Dyrek, Webmaster at the Kenai Peninsula Alaska. Oct 2006
This story is about how being lost in the Mountains, West of King City, California, on the Coast in 1977.  What happens and how do you end up lost in the mountains when you least expect it.

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Lost in the Mountains.


   Photo by C. Jeff Dyrek  

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". 


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