I was going to meet with the scouts up the sheep lane past the cabin. I took the 4 wheeler. I started it not knowing it was in reverse, but with lightning reflexes I was able to dislodge the throttle well before I got to the trees. After that the journey was uneventful up until I got past the cabin and was feeling like I was getting pretty close. Then it died. A thorough going over couldn’t find anything wrong but the fact that it wouldn’t start. After thinking it over I decided it a good idea to strike out afoot. I remembered that one of the scouts is good with mechanics. It was a nice afternoon and I enjoyed the walk, the scenery and the air (though slightly smoky from the wild fires down in Utah). I passed a sheep camp, a dry riverbed, a cattle guard. Then I saw headlights up ahead. I wasn’t sure how a stranger would take finding a man such as I wandering up the sheep lane on foot, nor was I in the mood to deal with them. So I hid myself in the trees just off the side. As they passed I heard the one driving, a woman who seemed to be doing all the talking. I over heard something about a “huge herd of elk”, and then they were gone. I simply stepped out and continued trudging. I was starting to wonder where the scouts could be when my phone rang. It was Dad informing me that a fire had started up on the mountain and that I’d better get out of there pronto. I told him that if that was the case then I was in a predicament.
I also learned that the scouts were a bit farther than I’d expected. All I could do was hike on back to the vehicle and do I know not what. I couldn’t help but wonder how ablaze the sunset looked as I back tracked. I decided to run. I fell only once in the dimming light, but had so much momentum that I just rolled and righted myself and kept running as though nothing had happened, which I thought extraordinarily graceful to have happened in the river bed.
My only hope of getting home was to somehow get the vehicle running. I pulled and prayed, pulled and prayed, till my hands started to blister and my knees were frayed. By then it was dark. I sat down to rest for a bit. Then I realized just how alone I was, just how eerie the full moon cast shadows among the trees. The noise from the herd of sheep up the trail seemed to fade and silence choked the atmosphere. That was all I needed, a healthy dose of panic to liven the limbs. I decided to push the contraption at least back to the cabin where I knew I could get service on my phone. From there I could call and have someone come and pick me up. I felt no cold, I was all lathered up from trying, to heave the 4-wheeler up the rocky trail. I finally gave up and decided to go find service before sun-up.
I walked for a long time, checking my phone for service every now and again. As I walked there were shadows and beams of moonlight that created odd shapes in my minds. The hair on the back of my neck wasn’t just standing, it was doing a few numbers of river stomp. I saw a big black object standing among the trees. I froze and watched closely for movement. I stared at it a good five minutes before I could convince myself that it was just a stump.
I continued my evening stroll until I finally found enough cell service and called my brother. So they were on their way. I was saved… or would be if something else didn’t get to me first. What really had me concerned was my ability to see things that weren’t there. I wasn’t too keen on dying of a hyperactive imagination, but the danger was peaking.
After another few minutes of walking I found myself at the gate leading to our cabin. I wondered why I didn’t tell my brother to meet me at the cabin instead of the sheep lane. It would have been only a bit of a walk compared to the one I had embarked on earlier today. But my course was set and it wouldn’t be too much longer until they got to me, I decided to not complicate things. I sat myself down on a nearby log and waited.
the moon was high now but it’s light was dimmed slightly by the smoke that still hung in the sky. The wind only breezed through once and again to rustle the leaves in random places. the night was getting chilly and I began to feel it now that the more physically exerting part of the evening was done. I realized that the later it got, the more acute my senses became. I observed my surroundings and there came again that feeling of loneliness trimmed with fear, knowing that if something were to happen to me there would be no witnesses. There was no one to watch my back. I was alone in a dark forest, only a picture of my girlfriend to keep me company, and I checked it often to make sure she still was.
I heard noises in the trees surrounding me. owls conversed long distance. Elk could be heard calling in a grove of trees not too far from my front row seat. Mice would sneak up behind me and start thrashing around in the grass and leaves until I had made a satisfactory response and then disappear. I had to figure something out or I was going to go insane.
Finally I heard the sound of an ATV sputtering up the trail. It took an eon to come into view. The Rhino came closer and closer and the only thing louder than the engine was the talking going on. My sister was with him. they came close to passing me up. I wasn’t about to let that happen. I gave a shout, but I think it was the cell phone I was waving around that finally got their attention. The talking was interrupted by a scream which startled my sister. Then she gasped “what is that, a star?”, and my brother answered “no, it’s Pete. Hey Pete what are you doing up in that tree?”