Sunday, May 30, 2010
Over the mountain, part two
Be sure to see part one, prior to this very post. As stated there, at 14 years old, on the first day of summer vacation, I ran away from home in Kaysville, Utah. Rather than run away in any standard form, I decided to hike over the Wasatch mountain front.
I left off as a pathway fell away under my feet and took me with it some several feet to the creek running below. I couldn't help but cry out in surprise as I slid in a cloud of dust and dirt. I stopped abruptly as my feet found the large stones lining the sides of the little creek and I paused to catch my breath. I craned my neck to look up the steep bank to the rest of the path high above my head. I looked down at the creek, then back up again. I wanted to be back on the path, so I flipped over and tried to climb back up. No dice. The dirt was far too loose. I had no choice but to follow the creek up to find another place to climb out. The banks were steep and stretched high on both sides. There were large stones around the creek sides and it only sat four feet wide at it's largest points. It wasn't deep either, but frigid cold. I had no wish to be wet.
In part one, I neglected to mention I actually had a target point to cross over the mountain. At the top of the mountain sat a weather station, a white domed building big enough to see from far below. It made sense to me that a man made structure had to have some way up to it. Too bad I had no idea how to find that.
So I started following the cold creek upward. Downward wasn't an option to me. It meant losing time in climbing and it was a matter of time before it was noted that I was gone. I left a note behind, yes a note. And in it I stated that I couldn't handle the fighting anymore, that I was leaving and didn't want anyone to come looking for me. I even said I would kill myself if they tried. Yes, I was a very depressed and hurting kid. I truly didn't feel I had anywhere safe to turn between my stepmother and a year of bullying in school. Studies now show that our autistic kids (and other special needs) are bullying magnets. I know this to be true from experience.
But, back to the story at hand, I followed the creek and for some time, I had very little trouble balancing on the rocks and even managed to hop across to easier sides a few times. I did great until I came to the waterfall. It wasn't severely high, head level to me for that matter. But there was no way around it. The banks were straight up and down walls of dirt at this point, easily twice my height. It was composed of giant boulders embedded in the earth and the waterfall part was about three feet wide. No choice at all. I searched for handholds and foot holds. I tried to grab on to the smoothed ledges and put my foot up on another below. I pushed myself and promptly slid and fell backwards. I barely caught myself before crashing to the rocks and water behind me.
I admit a feeling of panic at this overbearing obstacle, but I tried again. I managed to reach up to a flat spot that I could set my little suitcase. I pulled myself upward with some struggle and cold water flooded my pants. When I finally got a foot up on the top of the water fall and pulled myself up, I felt quite a sense of achievement, but also of wet and cold. I had reached a new plateau, but still couldn't climb out of the creek. I grabbed my little suitcase and started along the creek again. At this point I realized something. I was thirsty. Did I bring along a bottle of anykind for water? No.
You guessed it, I leaned down and drank that creek water from the snow runoff. It looked clear and it was very cold. Regardless of any risk I took, it was pretty refreshing. Then I spotted a long stick that looked just right for hiking. I grabbed it up and jammed it against the rocks and leaned on it a bit. My father used to carve walking sticks and taught me how to check for one that could bear my weight. I used to whittle on my fair share with my pocket knife. It bore my weight and a stought smack against the rocks, so it got the job. And off I went, little blue suitcase in one hand, stick in the other, and bright orange pack on my back. And, compared to so far, I hadn't faced anything yet.