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I Lost My Dog & Almost Died - Part 2

The Night

  • I feel like I did not sleep at all, but I know did as tired and beat up as I was.

  • After a couple of hours, I finally stopped cramping.

  • My mind would stop working, trying to figure out:

    • Where Dude was?

    • Was he safe?

    • Was he scared?

    • What was he going to do to survive?

    • Would I ever see him again?

  • I decided that the 1st thing Dude would do would be to try to go back. Back to the truck. Back home.

  • I don't think he could make it out of the bush alone.

  • Then I thought that if he couldn't go back, he would stay where he was.

  • I also thought about all the opportunities/signs that I had not to attempt what I was doing alone.

    • Missing trailhead

    • Dude objecting and trying to go back

    • Me cramping at the side trail trailhead

    • Losing my tent poles 3 weeks earlier.

  • And I thought if Dude was able to know/predict danger then our connection would be enough for me to find him in the morning.

  • I know it's a stretch, but it's all I had to hold on to.

  • I was in survival mode and really had no time or energy to be sad. I had work to do.

  • I got up to pee in the middle of the night and it was snowing. Great!

  • Every time I woke or rolled over I would yell for Dude

  • I halfway thought I would see him in camp in the morning. This was not the case.

The Search

  • My plan was to search the bootleg trail to Brushy Ridge trailhead 1st to see if he made it out of the bush.

  • Honestly, I was terrified to go back into the bush after how bad it whooped my ass the day before.

  • I got water (It was fucking freezing).

  • Made some oatmeal and ate till I was full.

  • My ankle was about 70% and I was beaten up and sore all over.

  • I started up a VERY steep incline and in less than 10 minutes I recognized some of the features I passed yesterday. I was .1mi away from camp when I got lost. Holy Shit!

  • No luck on the trail. No Dude to be found. I have to back into the dark bush that destroyed me yesterday to find my dog.

  • I used strips of a bandana to mark my path. My plan is to go in as deep into the woods as the bandana will allow me. When I’m out of bandana, I’m done searching.

  • This is a huge forest and Dude could be anywhere by now, or he could be dead.

  • All I have to hold on to is that our connection to each other would bring us back together.

The Scream Heard Around The World

  • It’s much easier to maneuver without the weight and bulk of my pack, but still a struggle.

  • I’m yelling for Dude and marking my way with the bandana.

  • I’m seeing things that look familiar to me. I think I’m close. Close to where Dude and I got separated yesterday.

  • But I’m running out of bandana and hope.

  • I tie the last strip of the bandana and go as far as I can, keeping it in sight. I get where I can’t go further without losing my security bandana.

  • I’m yelling, whistling, clapping and I got nothing. No Dude.

  • The reality is setting in. I start to picture my ride home without him. I see myself telling my family and friends that he’s gone. I picture Dude scared, cold, hurt, dead. I see his face looking at me in my heart and I lost my shit.

  • I begin to scream. I scream louder than I have ever screamed in my life. All the fear, pain, anger, and anxiety were released thru a series of screams.

  • I start to ball like a baby, confessing that it is all my fault. How could I be so careless and arrogant? My heart is broken and bleeding all over the gorge.

Leaving the Bush

  • I start to make my way back to the trail, following my red bandanna. I turn and take one last look at the landscape where my life is going to change forever, and there he fucking is!

  • Dude is about 20 yards from me gazing toward the river. I yell “DUDE?!”, half doubting that he is actually there. But there he is….

  • His head spins around and we make eye contact. I really can’t believe it! We start slogging through the brush, logs, and uneven forest floor toward each other, both of us excited and relieved to be back together.

  • His backpack must have been torn from his harness during his adventure. All the stuff he needed to comfortably survive was uselessly on his back. No thumbs.

  • It takes us a minute to reach each other, but we finally connect and fall to the sloping forest floor hugging each other. It was really like a love scene out of a movie.

  • Reality kicks back in when we start sliding down the mountain. It’s time to get the hell out of here.

Rest & Extraction

  • It’s time for us to make our way back to camp. We are both more than ready to do so.

  • Although I feel like I have to coax Dude back to our camp, he does not lang but a few steps behind. I think he figured out that this was a major deal.

  • I wonder if he is mad at me, or confused about what is happening, or does he even give a shit.

  • In less than 15 min we are back at our base camp.

  • I get him some water and because the temperature is now in the low 20s, get him in my tent and cover him with my sleeping bag.

  • I feed him some beef jerky and chips I had for snacks.

  • I actually contemplate staying the 2nd night. What an idiot!

  • We both fall asleep for an hour or so and then it was time to pack up and head out.

  • It’s a long and draggy trip out as we are both pretty beaten down.

  • But it’s all worth it when I see my truck. It was a sight to behold

  • We made it!

Backpacking Tips

  • We gain wisdom in 3 ways:

    • Reflection - The noblest way

    • Imitation - The easiest way

    • Experience - The suckiest way

  • This wisdom was gained by #3

  • Always check and double-check your map before leaving the terminus.

  • Pay attention to your dog when he/she is acting out of character.

  • If you get off trail, try your best to backtrack. Blazing your own trail probably won’t end well.

  • Don’t go out alone on trails you are unfamiliar with.

  • Carry a GPS locating device in case of emergencies.

  • Put one on your dog as well.

  • I was very fortunate to make it out alive and even more fortunate to get my best buddy home safely.

  • My hope is that you gain this piece of wisdom by Imitation.

That Is All.

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