Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lost in the Wilderness - Part 2

After three hours of being lost in the wilderness, my mom, her then-husband Rob, and I headed down the road to our salvation – civilization.

We had traveled so far, and it was at this point that my mother’s Golden Retriever, Laney, decided she couldn’t go on.  We could all relate to Laney’s exhaustion.  For the past seven hours, we had been lost, dehydrated, and suffering from heat exhaustion.  I had even been trampled by my horse.

A short walk to the closest house seemed like a thousand miles.  Because of Laney, it took us an hour to reach our destination – a little, white, one-room adobe sitting in the hot sun.  Since there was nobody home, we helped ourselves to the hose in the backyard.

After a short rest, we continued down a dirt road, which turned into a familiar paved road.   However, the road was on the complete opposite side of another town called Silver City, about 20 miles from Piños Altos.  Luckily, further down the road, the small shacks metamorphosized into real houses.

We went to the first house and asked if we could have some water and then let the horses graze, while we considered what to do next.  They saw our sorry state and said no problem. We couldn’t ride the horses back home because Silver City was far too commercialized – not to mention it was against the law.

Mom and Rob finally decided that the best solution would be for Rob to hitch a ride back to Piños Altos and return with a horse trailer.

It sounded so simple, but Rob had to hitch-hike 20 miles – in an era where nobody hitch-hiked any more – and then borrow a horse trailer from a neighbor because they didn’t even own one.
After he left, my mom and I just laid our weary bodies down in the grass and started to talk about everything that had happened.  Suddenly, my mom realized that her horse, Doll, had gotten out of the pasture and was grazing along the side of the road.  There wasn’t a lot of traffic, but every few minutes a car or truck would go whizzing by us. 

My mom approached slowly because she didn’t want to spook Doll. We had taken off her bridal so that she could eat, so when Mom caught up to her, there was nothing to grab.

Although once Doll saw Mom approaching, the huge horse did decide to be difficult and began rearing away.  At this moment, I realized the incredible strength bound within my mother’s body – and fearlessness – as she reached up and grabbed the mane of that massive Arabian – all the while commanding the horse.

Mom and Laney
My Mom told me to bring the bridal and bit over as fast as I could hobble. She had calmed the horse enough to resaddle her.

Rob showed up with the horse trailer around 6 p.m. Since we had three horses for a two-horse trailer, the best scenario would be to take Doll home alone and come back for Lil and J.J.  Rob loaded the horse and dogs, and headed home once again.

It was about 8 p.m. by the time he returned, and we were all ready to go home. We loaded J.J. and then we tried to load Lil, who had never been in a trailer before. We tried and tried to get her in that trailer – pushing and pulling for naught.  By this time, it was starting to get dark, so in a last desperate attempt, Rob came up with a brainstorm. 

He would pull the horse’s lead through the rear window of the trailer, while Mom and I pushed on Lil’s bum to get her in the horse trailer. This wasn’t quite what happened: Lil reared up on both hind legs, pulling Rob, arms first, through the tiny window. Rob broke his hand – it was crumpled and dislocated.

We were getting knocked down one at a time.

At 10 p.m., Mom decided that one of us – Rob for getting us in this mess – would have to camp overnight with the horses while the others went home to get some sleep.

Mom and I went back to her house to pick up some medical supplies, camping equipment and Jack Daniels for Rob. It was after 11 p.m. when we finally returned.

I could hardly walk on my injured foot, so I was standing on the sidelines watching them unload J.J. Unfortunately, I was too close to the trailer and, when the horse backed its hinds legs off, the trailer fell right on my injured foot.  I screamed out in pain, but by the time Mom and Rob realized I was hurt; gravity caused the trailer to return to its original position. (Luckily, I only bruised my foot.)

Mom and I headed back home for a few hours of sleep, which was restless, knowing that Rob was sleeping with the horses and that the saga wasn’t yet over.

We were back before sunrise and, once again, we tried to load Lil – without any luck.  Now we had to find a horse trainer who would be willing to get Lil in the trailer so early in the morning. We drove to a nearby Arabian horse ranch.  It took $100 and two hours of coaxing, but he was finally able to get that damn horse into the trailer.

When we finally made it home, there was this incredible sense of relief and closure. We realize that nature offers beauty, as well as danger. We knew we were fortunate to walk away from this ordeal, while others are not so lucky.  Many people die each year taking Mother Nature for granted.  My lesson:  Urban dangers aren’t necessarily more dangerous than natural treacheries.  I’d gladly take a dark, dangerous city alley over Mother Nature any day.

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