Nature Knocks

May 20, 2009
By
I turned around after having ridden my horse for near two hours and noticed that my lifeline, my guide named Rocky, was gone. How didn’t I notice that he was gone and how why didn’t he say anything to me when I was veering of his beaten path? I thought I was still on it. I immediately sat down and tried to think about what had happened. To get myself into a sane thinking pattern I asked myself some simple questions, since I was in a extremely scary situation. Starting off simple, I asked my name. I said to myself, “My name is David Angelo and I am from New York City.” I immediately thought to myself, that doesn’t help me at all; I’m a city boy that is stuck in the middle of nowhere. How does that help me?

After demounting my horse I sat down on a snowy log that was to the left of the trail that I had unknowingly been wandering along by myself. I analyzed my situation, trying to keep calm knowing that if I panicked I would have small chances of escaping this situation with my life. I think I read that in a book somewhere back in high school, I guess high school was good for something. I was stuck in the mountains of Utah, hunting elk on a trip I won through a auction back in New York. It seemed like a good idea before I left on this trip and had eagerly waited for this trip to come, but now the tables had turned and I was stuck by myself in this winter wonderland. I knew that the weather in this area of the country could change fairly quickly and that without shelter I would be easy picking for a Darwin award. As I was sitting there thinking about this, a snowflake fell and hit me directly in my right eye. This was the worst news I could ever receive from above. I sensed that a winter storm was heading my way and I had nothing but the clothes on my back, my pack horse named Buddy, my rifle, two boxes of bullets containing a total of ten rounds, and three matches in my backpack. If only I knew what to do in this situation. I would trade in anything for the knowledge that my guide possessed about surviving in nature by yourself during harsh weather conditions.

I decided to start building a shelter since I thought I would be enduring the oncoming winter storm during the night, which was approaching ever so silently upon the mountains. I began by collecting simple logs and sticks that were located close to the trail. I thought that making my shelter near the trail would be my best option since I figured that is where they would look for me after my companions back at camp noticed that we had not returned from the day’s hunt. After about an hour of collecting branches from various trees, some extremely full of foliage others not, I had assembled some half-assed shelter. I wasn’t proud of what I had built, but I felt that it would be sufficient to outlast the night’s onslaught of nature. Even though night was approaching quickly, an even larger need was surfacing in my body than the desire to search for a way out of this situation.

My stomach began to growl louder than it ever had growled back in New York City where any food was available a block down. Here there was nothing but trees on a up scaling mountain. How do these trees live in these constant harsh conditions? I didn’t have the experience nor the time to take care of that need at this moment, so I hunkered down in my half assed shelter and attempted to make a fire with my extremely scarce resource of three matches. I didn’t know how to start a fire, or where to gather the dry wood to make one. Is any dry wood in climates such as this? I was completely clueless.

I fell asleep that night, thinking myself into the soundless sleep that carried me to the following morning. I awoke with the hunger pains that felt like the result of not eating for two weeks, yet it had only been slightly more than twenty four hours. Equipped with my rifle, I headed out in search for food, not the typical trip to the supermarket. After glassing the surrounding area I spotted some elk, some bulls some cows, it didn’t matter to me. Food was food anyway I could beat around it. I set up the bipod and shouldered my firearm in preparation for the kill, but suddenly the rocks beneath me began to tumble to the depths of the valley below, and I was going with them. It was a rockslide, as I quickly figured out tumbling to my death nearly four hundred feet below. My life was flashing before me, it was one of shallowness and selfishness. Why hadn’t I spent more time out here in the wild, where all men are the same regardless of their prosperity? To late now I thought, it’s all over.

I came conscious, where was I? I immediately tried to stand up and gain a bearing for where I was. Nothing worked, and intense pain shot up through my legs like never before. I came to the conclusion that I had fallen from the cliff above, lost my rifle in the process, and now was laying relatively paralyzed in the valley awaiting my certain death. I attempted to stand up once more, but the pain was to much for me to bear, and I passed out.

Just as the sun had dipped below the mountain that was in front of my view, I saw a horse head lugging up the trail from the direction that I had come from. Every emotion in my body immediate sparked at the sight of this man. Is this a hallucination? It was my guide after he appeared through the snow now coming down at a good clip. I was saved. Turns out, he actually got lost as well when he went after a elk he was looking at to hunt, and then continued down the path when he realized that I was missing. He said he saw the shelter I had assembled up on the mountain and figured that I had continued on in search of food and couldn’t be far away due to the tracks my boots left in the mud. He called in on his two way radio to camp to have a helicopter brought out to airlift me from my near certain place of death. I asked, “How bad?” He responded, “Don’t worry about it, you will be just fine, just be glad that you are alive and kicking!”, and I was in a way that I had never experienced before. I was thankful for life.





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