I woke early, well-rested and feeling optimistic about my chances of at least getting close to Beaver by the end of the day. I still needed to climb another 1500 feet to a Utah high of 9500, but I was rested and ready for the challenge.
Merely a mile in I made what nearly became a fatal error. I veered onto the wrong trail. The turn I chose fit the description and the directions in the ADT book perfectly except for one detail: I was a quarter of a mile too soon.
I should have been concerned when a few hundreds in maintenance deteriorated to nil. Downed timber covered the forest floor. I was forced to portage my equipment in the worst areas, carrying the pack, then the water, and then the stroller past the tangled branches and rotting trunks. Needless to say, progress was slow and deliberate.
I forged ahead one mile before joining a new trail, which I was sure would be better. It was an improvement at first, luring me ever deeper into the dark forest. This turn too had perfectly aligned with my directions.
More obstructions appeared every few hundred yards. I continued to sink further into danger. I was irked but surprisingly unworried - until a massive pine came crashing to the earth only a fifty feet to my right. At this juncture I properly digested the facts: I was very alone and far from help. Humans did not pass this way often.
Then the situation grew much worse. Near the top of what I thought was Chokeberry Point the path disappeared completely. I searched everywhere but the conclusion was inevitable. I could go back through the mess behind or plunge forward cross country. Returning meant six more hours shoving past the same mess. I was unlikely to escape before dark. I did not want to relive that nightmare so I resolved to continue. Sadly this course of action signaled the end of B.J.'s usefulness. He must be abandoned. The little stroller served me well in our short time together, but where I was going was beyond his abilities. I unloaded the buggy and bid adieu to the kindest, gentlest inanimate object I've pretended to be friends with ever.
|Stock photo of dude lost in the woods. We'll just say I was not in the mood for snapping photos.|
The next step was to head for the top and get a view of potential options. I summited the nearest high point, but saw little besides another ridge. Plan B was to head for a stream and follow it out. Thick tangles of brambles and branches grabbed at my legs, slashing and lacerating as I worked my way to the bottom, trying to find this bath tub's drain.
Halfway there I stumbled upon another trail. Thinking this might be my ticket out I hopped aboard. A while later I came to an intersection and moved onto another, heading in a more westerly direction. I was still under the illusion I would somehow find Beaver tonight. The trail checked these ambitions by ending. I returned to the previous path, which also fizzled out. Plan B returned to the agenda.
Heart racing, I focused in again on finding a stream. At the base of the mountain I found success - and better yet another trail. This one did not let me down. Ten minutes of walking and I reached a dirt road. A mile later I hit another. I headed southwest on the second road, believing I would eventually reach Fremont Wash, which would take me to I-15.
For once I was right. Two hours later what I thought to be Fremont came into sight. I also saw my first evidence of human existence, a group of RVs camped in a field, hunters more than likely. Exhausted beyond belief (I had been carrying extra weight in my pack thanks to the equipment I took off of B.J.) I decided to bivouac there in hope of obtaining water and assurance about my new route to Beaver.
My wish was granted in minutes when Kay and his wife drove up in their truck. They filled my water and assured me Fremont Wash was indeed in the distance and I could use it to escape. After dark more hunters, Cody and Mike arrived, shocked to see a hiker so far from civilization. Cody let me use his phone to let my family know I was okay. They listened to my story stunned. Cody later told my mother, "that kid is either crazy or tough. He went through country where the elk don't even go." I'm just glad being crazy is finally starting to pay dividends.
Thanks to the Egglestons, Cody, and Mike for being there for me, a complete stranger, in my time of greatest need.
? miles/? total miles - I have no idea how far I went today. It was far and it sucked but those aren't numbers last I checked. Tomorrow I will just add in the ADT distance from Circleville to Beaver and subtract the six of those miles I did on Sunday. Assuming I make it to Beaver....you never know I could have died and a demon possessed my body and is now writing this passage. Stay tuned to find out for sure.