Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Sleepover

       The past couple blog posts have been about our “harebrained schemes.” To use a Grandpa-ism, they’ve been “crazier than a pet coon.” And so far, aside from some “minor” complications, they’ve been pretty safe. This next harebrained scheme resulted in a genuinely scary situation and a learning experience for us all.
       When we say, “We’re going elk hunting,” we mean, “ We are going to spend the next week walking between 10 and 20 miles a day over rough terrain, looking for a couple of elk.” Now you can imagine that if someone gets lost, you have about as much of chance as finding that person as winning the lottery. And thankfully, we have won that lottery.
       In early October 2005, we were doing our usual elk hunt. I was all of the long age of 3, and my sister Smiles was wee little thing at the age of three months. I tell you our ages to illustrate the worry ApprenticeMom must have felt when ApprenticeDad didn’t show up at the meeting spot after a day’s hunt. And we didn’t know where he was. All we did know was that he was lost.
Apprentice and Ranger playing chess that night

     From what I have gathered from family stories (I don’t remember much of this), ApprenticeMom was at The Cabin with Grandma and MamaB and the grandkids, holding dinner warm on the stove as “shooting light” passed and it was long after the guys usually showed back up. Finally, Grandpa came with some pretty bad news: my Dad hadn’t shown back up at the rendezvous point. They had split up that evening to each sit on a meadow and hopefully shoot elk at dusk. Grandpa, Long Rifle, and Long Rifle’s dad had yelled, fired shots, and done everything they could think of - but they still didn’t know where he was.
       This was pretty dang scary – there was a few feet of snow on the ground and it was set to snow all night. ApprenticeDad could have gotten injured, suffered hypothermia, had a shooting accident, or any number of terrifying possibilities. A prayer was said and a plan was made for the guys to camp at the trailhead that night so that they could get back on the trail as soon as it was light. If they didn’t find him right away, they’d call Search and Rescue.
      ApprenticeMom spent a sleepless night holding Smiles and watching it snow from the comfy chair at the cabin window. In the morning, she decided to go help look for ApprenticeDad. Just as she was getting her boots on, Grandpa’s truck pulled up into the cabin’s driveway – AppprenticeDad was found!
ApprenticeDad sleeping in The Cabin after
a night in the snow
According to ApprenticeDad, he never was “lost.” He says that once he was getting ready go to the rendezvous point, he tried turning on his flashlight (it was dark) and it wouldn’t turn on. It was dark as could be and tough to even find the trail, much less walk it back to the truck. ApprenticeDad decided to the right thing - stay put. So he started a fire and kept it going all night. Once it was light, he started to hike out of Story Meadow, where he met the rest of the party.
        I know ApprenticeDad wasn’t really lost, I know it could have been a lot worse. But that doesn’t mean it was any less scary at the time. We also have learned to pack extra batteries and to use the buddy system (at least two people together at all times.) We now hunt smarter and safer. Although we still manage to have a few harebrained schemes now and then.

-The Apprentice