About a week ago I emailed Gary the story of the little girl who died because her father had her walk ten miles in the snow.
"I would so totally do this" was the subject line.
Because, it's TRUE. They would be whining about missing Christmas because the truck is broken, and I'd think - I can walk 3.5 miles an hour, so ten miles would take 3 hours. Kids play for three hours in the snow all the time, and they'll be walking, and they just have to follow the highway.
"No, you wouldn't do that. That guy's an idiot." Gary emailed.
"I really think I would," I replied, "But I wouldn't name my kids Sage and Bear."
Gary continued to insist I wouldn't think of sending an 11 year old into the snow. He wrote, "11 years old is very young. You make all sorts of bad decisions when you are that young. I was 14 when I got lost in the woods on a Boy Scout campout."
I had completely forgotten about that story, and through the next few emails I pulled the details out of Gary.
Here, in Gary's own words, is his Lost on the Mountain story.
It was in the Ozarks. It was at either S-BAR-F or Eagle scout camp. Our whole adventure started because some eagle scouts sent us off to an old closed campsite on the other side of the scout camp in search of some non-existent item. I forgot what it was. I think that there were some old church ruins there and they sent us there to get the schedule of masses. The other side of camp was just on the other side of a foothill. By the way, those large green tree-covered foothills that we see in the Ozarks are actually small mountains. They get a lot bigger when you try and walk to their top.
I was not the leader of the group. It was not my idea to go over the mountain. I told them that the trail could not possibly lead over the mountain. I left them at the start and began the long journey around the base of the mountain, but then I followed them up the mountain to try to convince them of my point of view. I was not successful. They figured that the trail would take us up and over the mountain which would be closer then going around the base of the mountain which we knew was 20 miles. When it started getting dark, I told them that they were on their own.
That particular skyline trail was very dangerous because it terminated in a large gorge. The trail just tumbled down into it with no warning. It was dark, we had no source of light and in a dense forest at night you can barely see your own hand in front of your face. After I left my fear was that the rest of my company had simply dropped into the gorge and were dead.
Then I did a real dumb thing and left the trail in an attempt to speed my return to our camp, which was miles and miles away, because I was late for dinner. So when darkness hit, I didn't even have a trail to follow. Once I left the trail, I just kept going down. After it got dark, I just felt my way from tree to tree. It was pretty dangerous because the incline was very steep.
Luckily, I ran across a dry stream-bed which led me back down the mountain safely.
I was lost for 16 hours. By the time that I got back to camp, the scout camp had already called out the Mounted Police and the National Guard. There were helicopters, horses and search teams all over the place. The scout camp was over 300 square miles of woods. I was very embarrassed but they told me that they wouldn't have searched the mountain trail that we had walked up for a couple of days so it helped out their search. They got to the rest of my group before they got to the gorge. The other scouts that stayed on the trail that lead over the mountain were lost for over 24 hours.
It's too funny that he's the same today as he was at 14. If I insisted on stomping away on Bottomless Gorge Trail, he would go his own way and then come after me so he could argue some more.