Sunday, July 11, 2010
Davis L. Bigelow
With Stan’s pack safely hanging in the tree, Glen hobbled back to retrieve his own pack. It sat waiting in the dirt near the splints and unassembled travois pieces. With just a little effort, Glen bundled the eight sections of wood together using a timberline hitch. In less than a minute, the poles were ready to drag. “If things go according to plan, I’ll be able to pull the free end of the rope over the top of my pack and let the tips of the longest wood pieces drag over the rocks behind me.”
With the padded crutch under his left arm, Glen hefted his red backpack onto his shoulders. Mercifully, it was considerably lighter than the other one had been. He snugged up the shoulder straps and cinched the hip belt. Stooping, he scooped up the rope that bundled the logs and flipped it over the top of the pack, hoisting one end of the log bundle several feet off the ground. Forming a fourteen-inch bight in the rope, Glen stuffed the loop between his stomach and the hip belt and tied the rope back onto itself. A fleeting grin flickered across the small man’s face. “Looks like this might actually work.”
Before moving out, Glen coiled up the remaining rope and tied it to a “D” ring on his left shoulder strap. He stared down at the dangling coil. “I just hope this rope won’t hamper my movements.” Taking one last look around just to be sure, the stubborn Scotsman drew in a deep breath and hobbled off the relatively smooth trail onto the uneven and unforgiving rocks.
If he had ever seen a field of dreams somewhere in his forty-five years of life, what lay before the small man was definitely its opposite! It was, in fact, a field of nightmares! Every step was fraught with potential disaster! The tip of Glen’s crutch kept slipping into cracks and crevasses, throwing the injured man off balance with nearly every shuffled step. Glen groaned and lurched. He grimaced and panted. The logs, dragging behind him, clunked and scraped noisily on the stone, pulling and pushing at him to further complicate his movements.
“At least my ankle feels a bit better.” He commented, finally finding something positive to say in the malay of frustration. The snug tensor wrap didn’t allow Glen’s ankle to bear any weight, but at least it helped the incessant jarring not to hurt so much. Glen glanced ahead. Protected from the direct heat of the sun, Stan was easy to spot. At a distance of six hundred yards, seeing the brilliant glint of the big man’s Mylar blanket was easy. Getting there was the tough part!
The loaded pack felt so heavy! “And I thought my earlier crossing was slow!” Glen muttered. “This trip makes the first one seem fast.” Often, the boulders were so uneven that Glen had to crawl to proceed. When crawling on his hands and knees, the gloves helped considerably, but the trailing poles bumped his bruised ankle almost every time he moved. When he was standing and shuffling, the sock padding required frequent attention. “Oh, if I just had a few inches of duct tape!” Glen moaned, adjusting the socks again. He looked up at the lowering clouds and allowed a sardonic smile to pass across his dry lips. “A hot air balloon ride would be nice about now!”
One and one half hours crept by. Stan was much closer than he once was, but Glen was still barely half way to him. Only minutes before, Stan had offered an encouraging wave to his labouring friend - his reluctant, rescuing, packhorse. Between gasps for oxygen, Glen returned the gesture. He was coming as fast as he could!