Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just Another Day

 The alarm buzzes at 5AM. An hour before the usual time. He needs not awake, as he has been lying there waiting for the alarm to sound. He has spent most of the night thinking about the lost person on the mountain who, if still alive, will have survived 3 nights in freezing temperatures with little clothing and no supplies, food, or equipment. He rises, pulls on his wool socks, under armor, duty pants, and a wool hunting shirt. Not his normal garb when heading out for a detail.
 He pads to the kitchen, fills his coffee cup, then his thermos, and grabs his grub bag from the fridge. The same grub bag he has taken on countless hikes and hunting trips in these very same mountains. He descends the stairs into the den and puts on the parka shell he has worn for many miles over the years and has shielded him in rainstorms, blizzards, hail storms and cold, windy, sunny days. The smell brings back numerous pleasant memories. It has been too long since he's has need to wear it, he thinks. He makes a mental note to get out on a hike soon.
 Stuffing the thermos and grub bag into his pack he checks again to make sure his wool gloves and hat are in the bag. He knows the weather this time of year can have you in all wool in the morning, and a t-shirt in the afternoon, and back to all wool the minute the sun falls behind the mountain.
 Fourty years of heading out into the woods has taught him to scan the room carefully before leaving to make sure he hasn't forgotten a critical piece of gear or clothing. He sees the snowshoes, hiking poles, ice axes, crampons, rifles, fishing poles and sees nothing he is lacking.
 He walks out the door and into the cold morning air covered by a black, star filled sky. As he climbs into the truck for the 30 mile drive to the staging area, he thinks about the day's search that lies ahead. Before he leaves home, he already knows in his heart how it will end. He turns the key and whispers a prayer that just this one time, he might be wrong.

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