Monday, May 25, 2009
When I was 6 years old my mom took my 12 year old brother and I backpacking in the wilderness behind this mountain. This was my first backpacking trip. On our second day up there we climbed the peak from the backside of the direction you see it from in this picture. That was the first mountain I ever climbed. On our way back down my brother ran ahead of us exploring the mountain slopes. Suddenly my mother and I heard a terrified scream. We ran to see what had happened and discovered Larry at the bottom of a glacial slope with a severely sprained ankle. He had decided it would be a good idea to slide down the snowy slope by what is known as "glissading", or skiing on your feet. Not seeing the 16 foot drop at the bottom of the slope when he started, he was unable to stop when he got to it and flew off the ice into some jagged rocks. It could have been much worse. However he could not walk.
My 5'1" mother managed to carry him about a 20 yards before she realized the task ahead of her was impossible. So we stopped and prepared a little spot to hole up. We were about 3 miles from our tent and camp, and did not have sleeping gear or cold weather equipment. After giving us all the snacks and water we brought along, my mother then reassured us that she would return soon, and began the 6-7 mile trek out to get help. I remember being scared, and my older brother moaning in pain most of the time. I was able to distract myself and play with a small parachute army man toy I brought for awhile, but when darkness came I just cuddled up to my brother and waited fearfully through the night, convinced that every rustle in the bushes was a bear or mountain lion. Somewhere in the wee hours of the morning we heard shouts and whistles calling for us coming up the mountain. We both began shouting at the top of our lungs as help came running in. My mother had hiked all the way back to the trailhead and car, before realizing that her keys were still in our original camp, which she had hurriedly bypassed. She was forced to walk another 3 miles to the closest house and call for help. A group of good friends and avid outdoorsmen, one of whom several years later became my stepdad, flew out of bed at the news and raced up that mountain with flashlights and emergency equipment to retrieve us. This was my introduction to camping in the wilderness at six years old. And it began a life-long addiction to wilderness adventure and mountain climbing. I think partly realizing the awesome respect that is commanded by the mountains, but also facing my fear and surviving adversity and danger in that environment, burned into me a passion for the natural world and our place in it. I've been going back ever since. Thanks mom.