As she lay awake, visions of her childhood came to mind. Random scenes — church on a sunday morning with her family, trotting around the running track as a high school athlete. She so wanted to be with Aric and her family. She wanted to hold them and shout how much she loved them. There were things she still wanted to do — learn to play the fiddle and have children. But in the black of night, she recalled a dear friend, luke, who had died two years earlier. If I dont make it, she thought, at least Ill be with luke somewhere.
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She washed out the wound on her essay right leg and wrapped it in her underwear. Later in the morning, she blundered through some thornbushes, and it occurred to her that she might use thorns to suture the cut. She stabbed at the folds of skin, trying to pin the laceration closed. But she could never do more than skewer one edge of the injury. Helicopters flew overhead once in late morning and again in early afternoon, but Salant was never in enough of a clearing to flag them. So she pushed. She came across a familiar-looking green bush studded with pink berries and thought she remembered Aric identifying the plant as salmonberry. She nibbled at one of the fruits and spit it out. Waited a while, then sampled another. Satisfied that the berries werent toxic, she gorged on them. At nightfall, she tried to sleep, but pain and fear made that impossible.
It was Sunday evening now; she was supposed to be at her students birthday party. Day 3 dropcapA/dropcapt the first hint of word light, she arose, desperate to be moving again. She looked down at her legs. The gash on her right thigh still yawned fiercely, and the curve of her left leg made it appear vulnerable, pathetic. She felt that sudden strange detachment again and a kind of maternal responsibility toward her legs, as if they were children tugging at her sleeve. God, she thought, cant you just take care of yourselves? She nursed them along down the gorge. Somehow it made her feel less lonesome to have someone to nurture, even if it was only her own legs.
Use all your resources, she told herself. Her tank top had a built-in bra, which she pulled out and dates folded over her head for warmth. She removed the drawstring from her shorts, poked holes in her shirt and shorts just at the hips, and ran the string through to pull them together and seal in the heat. Then she peeled strips of dry moss from a nearby rock, covering her legs and stuffing her clothes with. Content continues below ad, she thought about Aric. He must have called for those helicopters. How stupid that their last exchange had been so nasty.
Pul" The waterfalls, the ancient forest — they reminded her why she loved coming to this spot in the first place. In the afternoon, she heard a helicopter. Is that for me? One swept overhead, but the firs obscured her location. Maybe i should just sit in one spot and wait, she thought. But no — she was too cold for that. Even though the day was warm, the v-shaped gorge was shaded, and shed spent all day slipping into the cold water. M., just as the sun was hitting the gorge, salant found a flattish spot between two trees and curled up to sleep, shivering.
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She moved methodically, plotting every step, crossing and recrossing the stream to avoid obstacles, and balancing on fallen logs or clinging to tree roots. She came to the top of an outcropping above the stream and stopped. There was seemingly no good way. Forward was too steep, backward was too steep, left was too steep. She could proceed down leaving the opposite bank if she could cross the stream — but it was a 12-foot drop to the water.
For an hour she sat and contemplated her plight. I cant believe im doing this! She screamed, hurtling down into the shallow creek. She landed on her right leg and pitched over onto her side, popping out of the water seconds later. Ok, she said, panting and dragging herself out of the frigid water.
Im thirsty, and I need to clean up this cut. Dragging herself along in an awkward crab-walk, she found the creek a quarter mile away. It took her an hour to get there, but she was upbeat. Either this will lead me back to bear lake or to the columbia — either way, im saved. She drank and washed out her injury.
The water was pure and beautiful. She could feel it rejuvenating her. Salant took one last sip, then set out down the creek, scooting along on her butt. The area to the west of bear lake contains some of the countrys tallest timber and most inhospitable terrain. The stream Salant had chosen to follow is called Lindsey creek, and it drops toward the columbia river in a deep, waterfall-studded gorge so difficult to navigate that she may have been the first ever to attempt its descent. Still, she took a moment to admire. The waterfalls, the ancient forest — they reminded her why she loved coming to this spot in the first place. All day long she picked her way carefully down the gorge, clinging to the slopes at the edge of the creek.
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Content continues below ad, day 2 dropcapI/dropcapn the middle of the cold night, she awoke and felt that her left leg was wet. Hours later, at sunrise, she saw that the moisture was blood. She had a deep gash on her right leg — a result of her fall — and it had bled all over her broken left leg. She could see its gleaming white bone with folds of torn and bloodied pink tissue above. Once again, she processed this fresh year horror with a strange detachment. All right, online she said to herself. I need to get to the water.
Then, a misstep, and darkness. When Salant awoke a few write minutes later, the first thing she noticed was the cliff shed fallen from looming 40 feet above her. The second was that her left leg curved strangely outward below the knee. Ok, she told herself, my legs broken. Surprisingly, the injury was not excruciating — some primal part of her had taken over, allowing her to go into problem-solving mode: She was hurt and alone with night coming on and absolutely no gear. All she wore were shorts, a tank top, socks, and boots. She could hear water trickling somewhere in the middle distance, probably a stream. She would sleep right here for the night, and in the morning she would follow the sound of the water to the creek.
Shed been hiking for six hours, and the sun would be setting soon. With a new panic, she began to descend. But was it bear lake? It didnt matter — any lake ought to have trails or people along. She picked her way down to the lower elevations, traversing the cliffs as carefully as she could. Pul" When Salant awoke a few minutes later, the first thing she noticed was the cliff shed fallen from looming 40 feet above her.
It was one oclock. Bear lake is only about 100 yards long, hemmed in by trees, which forced Salant to drift inland. With no trail to follow, she descended a drainage basin, climbed up the other side, and scrambled atop a pile of rocks. Where she expected the lake to be, she saw essay nothing but steep forest and, far beyond, a snowcapped peak. She began backtracking through the dense woods, but the farther she walked, the more confused she became. She kept moving until she came to a stream. She knew that the creeks here flowed northward toward the columbia river, several miles away.
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Day 1 dropcapI/dropcapt was shaping up to be the perfect best weekend. Last July, pamela salant, a 28-year-old preschool teacher, and her boyfriend, Aric Essig, 31, who works for a sailboat company, had driven two hours east from Portland, Oregon, to camp overnight in the mount hood National Forest. They planned to hike a mile and a half through the forest to bear lake, spend the night, and walk back out on Sunday to attend a birthday party for two of her students. It was sunny, clear, and fine. But during the hike, the subject of their on-again/off-again relationship came up, and the tension between the two began to rise. By the time they set down their packs at the campsite on the south shore of the lake, salant was blind with anger. Im sorry, pam, Essig said. Im going to see if I can find a better spot for us to camp, she told him, stalking off along the western shore of the lake.