Maybe not our lives (although there were points that I sure felt that way) but definitely the life of our car. Before I continue I will warn the mothers of the stars of this tale to only read on at your own risk, sometimes it is better that you don’t know. I will also say that there are no photos, and this story has nothing to do with food or books, just the craziness that is life.
I had a bit of time in the last few days to try to figure out where things went wrong. I think I can blame it on finding out that I will be out of work come September leaving my mental state a little frazzled, but there were so many places for our path to diverge I can't truly pinpoint a single event that could have stopped the end result. The possibilities are endless: deciding to go camping for our second anniversary, staying up till 2:00 am the night before, picking a campsite so far from the mountain we wanted to hike, not filling up with gas before entering that forest, Rob stepping on the one rock that tossed him into the river, and most importantly following GPS directions while driving in the mountains.
Our campsite was perfect, sitting on a lake surrounded by mountains, and on the day of our anniversary we decided to go hiking to a waterfall in Mendocino National Forrest. So Rob and I and our dog Murtry drove the hour to the trailhead and set out on our hike. The day was beautiful, we had a picnic in our packs for when we reached the waterfall and the trail was nice and steady, never too difficult but also not so easy that it was boring. When, two miles in we reached a stream we were not fazed, first trying to skip from rock to rock and then deciding to take off our shoes and walk across. Rob gave it one more try before taking off his shoes and right at the last leap lost his balance falling knee first into the creek. At first he seemed fine, but as we watched his knee quickly began to swell.
It has always been a fear of mine that Rob would get hurt when we were out in the woods. Sure it would be terrible if I did but Rob can get me out, when you turn it the other way around the situation gets a lot more complicated. I am sure you are thinking this is the climax of my story but it is actually just the beginning. We hung out by the stream for a while keeping Robs knee submerged in the freezing cold water and enjoying our picnic. After an hour or so his knee had gone down a bit and we were able to hike back out. Though we never got to see the waterfall our hike was actually really nice and thanks to a tightly wrapped bandana by the time we got back to the car the swelling had almost entirely subsided. This is where we made our first major wrong move.
We were running pretty low on gas, not dangerously so, but enough that we wanted to take the shorter route out of the mountain instead of the one that we had taken in. So we turned to our GPS, I know a lot of you are thinking this was a stupid move but at the time it seemed ok. It quickly showed us a road out that was much shorter, ending at a town with a gas station. Off we went on the “better” road. You must remember that Rob and I drove across the country to move here, and we have also taken a lot of trips together, and though I may grip the side of the door until my hand hurts I trust Rob to get me through even the scariest of mountain roads. So we drove the twenty five or so miles along this tiny dirt mountain road, with nothing but emptiness along the side of the car. There were definitely points that I was scared, especially areas where you could see that parts of the road had already slid off down the cliff, but the views were unbelievable and we were moving steadily along. When we got to a point where the road split the GPS told us to go left. Major wrong move number two, we listened.
We knew it even then, after turning left we reversed back to where the trail split looking for a sign and checking the GPS. The GPS showed that if we continued strait we would have had a very long road ahead of us, and though to the eye the road to the left seemed rougher it was only four miles to paved road. So we continued on with the rougher road. Just minutes after making the turn we went down a hill so steep that our decision was sealed, we couldn’t go back even if we wanted to. Each hill crossed made turning around more and more impossible and as the Manzanita bushes scraped along the side of the car and the tires locked while sliding down hills we new we were in some trouble.
At the bottom of one of the windiest of the hills we finally leveled out, and according to the GPS we only had two more miles to go. Right at the bottom of this hill was a dried out creek bed, but we could see the dirt road on the other side and the bed did not seem too terrible. So as I walked backwards in front of the car waving my hands in a made up sign language Rob slowly guided the car along the rocks. When we got to the other side I hopped back into the car, and we were both laughing feeling pretty good about ourselves and knowing we would get out with no problem. Not even a minute later we turned a bend and our road ended. That dry creek bed that we had no trouble crossing fed into a low but active creek that with no amount of luck or hope were we going to cross.
I am pretty proud of us (specifically myself) that we did not freak out at this point. There was no question of the situation we were in, and what we would have to do. We had an hour left of sunlight and a little over two miles to hike out, before we hit a road where we hoped to be able to hitch a ride. We quickly packed up water, food and clothes as well as any survival type tools we could think of, leashed up the dog and started on our way.
Due to the length of this post I will continue the rest of this story tomorrow, I hope you return to see how it goes.