Lost (Late) in the Mountains: Part 1 #Writing101
The need for stress relief can make us do some weird and stupid things, and Microsoft Certification tests are SO HARD!
Almost twenty years ago, while working toward a MCT certification, I went and did a really dumb thing that could have gotten me killed. I tried to hike the trail between City Creek Canyon and Mill Creek Canyon down into Mueller Park…alone.
I arrived at the trail head dressed in fur trade period clothing, for the “dream” as reenacters call it. I had a map and compass and everything…I’m not that stupid. It was a very poor-quality map in a book, but I’d also looked at the route on a satellite photo on the computer and studied out the trail. Someone told me that it was a very difficult, all-day hike and I believed them. I’ve done similar things successfully before, so I wasn’t worried. I planned to get to the top of the ridge between the canyons by 2 pm and and then follow the trail back along the ridge line and then down into the park and meet up with my wife and family around sunset. I’d hiked from the park up to the ridge line several times before, but I hadn’t been up City Creek Canyon. The day was Saturday, July 22nd 1995.
I parked my car and started my walk. I’d hiked quite high from Mueller Park before, and cross-country skied the lower areas of the park in winter. I knew about where I’d get down into familiar territory and where the trail that I knew of in the park eventually joined the ridge line. I knew about how long it would take to get back down from there. I carried so much confidence in the adventure that all I brought to eat was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch when I reached the foot of Grandview Peak.
The trail started out smooth and easy and I walked with a wide gate. On that high-country trail, with wildflowers up to my elbows, I felt rejuvenated. The tension melted off. It’s as if the mountain and the floura lent me their strength and urged me onward. I came across an older couple heading down and we chatted a bit. I told them what I planned to do, and they seemed to appreciate my courage, while doubtful glances between them seemed to say that they thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew.
Some time later, around 11:30, I came to what I knew would be the hard part of my journey, a wide and steep wash coming down from the ridge. The trail, as I remember it now, crept along the side of it, and then across it, and then up to the ridge line.
I thought I could even catch glimpses of the trial that I planned to link up with at the top that would eventually descend down into Mueller Park. I was a couple of hours behind schedule, but after skiing through the park at night many times, I knew I could find my way out of that part of the hike in the dark if I arrived a little late.
Like with so many of then other things we do in life, I made my plan on the assumption that nothing would go wrong.
By the way, I had no cell phone.
As I turned to head up the wash, my family was watching “Babe” at the Matinee.
During the several days that followed I’d wish many times that I’d gone with them.
To be continued…