Friday, July 1, 2011

Day 14... Pt. 1 Here we go...Wait Where do we go?

Even my most wildest, "worst case scenario" didn't come up with this one. Day 14 was going to be at best life changing and at its worst...Well lets just say I would be telling lies in saying some old tough cliche like " It never crossed my mind". No it all crossed my mind in an instant. Death, serious injury and panic to name but a few; and that was just for starters. If I wasn't taking to myself on this trip... I was certainly doing it now.

It's dark and a little away from sunrise, no wind yet and that can only be an act of God; as it was windy this entire trip. I can see the glow but really have no grasp of the direction or speed of this fire. Not even sure how to even proceed. I'm now positive there is a book out there I forgot to read when it came to this. Just because this could not even be happening. Right?

The end results was a deep bruise down to the bone
I was going to go into a great painstaking dialog of what happened on this day. Then I thought how can I really put this into detail or perspective? Honestly it would take an entire novel worth of work just on this one day. What would be the point? After all you know the end result. I'm still alive and fully escaped injury except for my badly bruised leg that still hurts slightly after a long day of hiking or running.

So I'm going to try and explain it from my thoughts as oppose to actions. The actions are vague at best any how because I was literally on the run and being at one point as close to flames only a few football fields away. Fleeing for my life, not knowing most of the time exactly where the fire was or how I was going to get out of there. South and West was the safest route from my own observation and my encounter with a spotter plane. The Sun is finally up... I say finally because this was without any doubt; the slowest day of my entire life. Nothing happens fast enough today not my accelerated hiking, not the water running into my bottle. NOTHING at all.

A trek like this was common through out
As I admitted already panic was there at the start. However, there comes a point and for me or any one with experience and knowledge, when a calm replaces the initial fear. For me it all starts with a simple word I tell myself. Breathe. Really that is what its all about for me. When I felt today was getting worse or I made a wrong turn even had to backtrack a time or two. "Breathe", was all I told myself. When I knew I had to stop and eat or drink to keep my strength and when parts of my mind said RUN! Instead I would pause, and just take a breath.

No matter what heading I took, it seemed smoke was coming over my head. Not knowing at the time what exactly was going on was probably in retrospect a good thing. The "Miller Fire" was to last weeks and burned more than 88k acres, closed the ruins, NM 15 and countless trails. It drove me faster, further than I even thought possible. Still, where was I going? I had general ideas and made sure the canyon I followed below had water. I used my compass for direction but that was it. Always south and west. Circumstance caused me to take risks but also to "Take Care of Myself"; best I could.

Trail running was never my strong suit, however I am, if nothing, swift. The canyon I'm about to enter is entirely draped in shadow. If there was ever a more spooky, erie situation...I have not a recollection of  facing it. Not a soul but mine and God's. Every countless step I take is focused on leaving this fire way behind me. Realizing I have no choice but to lower my gear first then find a way down. I tie a rope and lower my pack. Still I cant seem to find a way into this damn thing, time is ticking and that fire is not standing still.

As I'm making my way down a second time my attempt fails once again. Either I leave my pack and continue or drop 4 to 5 story's down maybe more. Both options are unthinkable but you think it anyway. Almost at the point of despair and already exhausted. I have choices to make that to me are "No Win" choices. Talking it through, out loud to myself Captain Kirk's phrase from Star Trek 2 comes into my head. " I don't believe in the No Win scenario". Yea, I know crazy but tat is how the "Pete Mind" works. I come to realize I agree with "Jim". So now what??? Breathe I say.

Pt. 2 will post tonight or tomorrow.

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