Day 38: A Brief Scare

Publish date: May 28, 2019

James didn’t show up at the shelter last night. It seemed odd that he hadn’t shown up soon after me, since I had just passed him an hour earlier. I figured he decided to stealth camp just south of us, and I decided to go check. Brad came with me while his dinner cooled. We hiked a half-mile back and still no sign. We were getting hungry and cold, but we kept walking. We walked the 2.5 miles back to the meadow where we last saw him, both jumping at the sight or sound of any sign. Nothing.

This was highly unlike James. The thing is, we knew there was a family feud in the area, and that the families liked to mess with hikers. And I had seen 127 Hours. We called the cops, who sent a rescue squad and walked back, urging any stealth campers to pack up and join us at the shelter. They all heeded our advice.

The number of explanations for the situation dwindled with every passing minute, leaning more and more towards the drastic ones. It was dreadful. We texted all of the hikers we knew in the area to keep their eyes out. I fell asleep full of guilt that I should be sleeping while he was out there.

The morning was tense and silent. We were going to hang around the shelter and just wait for news. Around 10AM, James came strolling up to the shelter, ready to hike. He had stealth camped near a loud river and never heard our whistles. It was so hidden and secluded that even the EMS couldn’t find him.

There can sometimes be a conflict between the safety/sustainability of our group and the often repeated mantra“hike your own hike.” This was a particularly extreme example. James meant to let us know that he found a nice campsite, but he was hiking behind us and didn’t have cell service. We’ve decided to set new, personalized guidelines about when to call the cops. For me it’s night-of. I’m not tryna sleep alone!