Dave Klausler writes here on occasion. Now, just between us, we do not know if a word he writes is true, but heck, writing is writing, and I like it. Did Hemingway ever do anything in real life that he used Nick Adams to relate to us? I thought that I would take an opportunity here to tell a true story (are you reading me correctly, Dave?), one that nearly cost me my life even if I did not kill a bear. Maybe I would have been hauled out on a helicopter after rescue by a stray mountain lion.
We lived in Bozeman, and I was invited to accompany a couple of older gentlemen to Black Diamond Lake in the Spanish Peaks, part of the Gallatin Range. At a certain point we had to leave the trail and cross Spanish Creek, after which there was no trail. There was a log straddling the creek, which is why Bill, our leader, knew where to turn. The task at this point was to remember the route, as I would be coming back alone. Bill and a man I’d never met before, a doctor named Paul, had a few years on me. I was in my fifties, they in their sixties. Consequently, every now and then, we stopped, dropped our packs, and napped.
The going in part was not difficult, even as it was strictly uphill. At a certain point I had an encounter with a tree that might as well have been a bear, as it caused a deep gash in my right arm. I first-aided up, and carried on. I still bear that scar. We finally got to the lake after maybe three miles of bushwhacking. I remember Paul, the doctor, trying to navigate along a lake shore and slipping, getting both boots and pants wet. He swore at that time that he would not have come on this journey had he known what was in store.
We got to our destination and set up camp. It was a beautiful spot with a creek flowing into the lake. The problem, and it was mine alone, was that there were only two things to do: read, and fish. I was an avid reader and most likely had two books along. However, fishing tried my patience. I only reluctantly ate fish, and had come to a time in my outdoors adventures where the thought of catch and release was troubling my conscience. (I would shortly thereafter give it up, and at an auction by our Unitarian church (yes, we were Unitarians at that time) I offered my fishing pole and reel, and a young boy was so happy to get them that I also gave him every other piece of fishing gear in my possession, poles, reels, line, lures, tackle box and flies. That was heartwarming, as I remember as a young kid how thrilling fishing was to me.)
So my plan was to leave a day ahead of Bill and Paul, and make my way home alone. I said my goodbyes, and took Bill’s advice seriously, to stay high above the creek below the lake as long as possible before dropping down to the lower altitude. But I dropped down too soon, and found myself navigating deadfall. But it was manageable, and I knew eventually the creek ended up by the trail, so I was not lost. But I had descended way too early. “Push forward” was all I could think, as I thought backpedaling would be a waste of time and energy.
At a certain point, I found myself entering a small chasm, an area that had a narrow ledge, and foolishly made my way out onto the ledge, not knowing that it would end and leave me stranded. I saw both the beginning and end of the ledge, but the middle was hidden from view. There was no middle, as it turned out.
Keep in mind I was carrying a full pack, with food, tent, sleeping bag, camp stove and supplies, and fishing gear. Out on that ledge I faced perhaps a twenty-foot drop-off. The ledge ended, but then reemerged perhaps ten feet away, forming a u-shape maybe five feet directly across from me. I needed to turn around, but there were no hand holds, and with that pack on my back, I could not maneuver. I had but two choices: To drop my pack and try to retrieve it later from below, or to jump the five feet across the chasm, landing on the other side where there were no hand holds, nothing to grab onto.
I tried but could not remove my pack. I would have fallen. It was that tight a predicament. My only choice was to jump. If I were to fall, I would surely be injured, maybe severely. I might not make it out, and rescue was out of the question. This was in the days of no phones, and anyway, no signal.
I sat there simply aghast at my predicament, all self-inflicted. I had no choice but to jump. I was deeply afraid. I did not think I would make it, but had no choice. I gathered up all my courage, and waited, waited, waited, just wanting it all to be over. With my heart in my throat, I jumped, and landed on the far edge, my pack on my back, my hands grabbing on to nothing, and leaned, as best I was able, forward. I did not fall! I surely should have, the physics not favoring me at all. I edged my way off the ledge, and onto flat ground. I was safe. Stupid, but safe.
The rest of the journey was briars and deadfall, crawling over one tree after another, re-injuring my arm and taking on additional wounds. My God had I dropped down too soon! I must have done two miles of this grueling work until mercifully, I came upon a log, the one we had used to get across Spanish Creek. From there I made it to the trail, a bloody mess. I came upon two young girls who were joyfully hiking the trail, which if memory serves, ends up at Pioneer Falls. I was too shy to say anything, and we passed in silence, me thinking I should not be so shy, and them thinking they had just stumbled on Bigfoot. Had I spoken to them, they might have run away.
I made it back to my car, and drove home, crossing Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch, always a treat no matter my mental state. It is so beautiful, and bison roam freely. (Ted was told at one point that wolves were on his property, and the bison were endangered. He said that was OK, so long as they did not eat them all.) I got home to my wife a bloody mess, but alive, and did not tell her my tale of stupidity. Eventually, once enough time had passed, I did fess up, I am pretty sure.
She might read this now and rethink her marital choice. As the saying goes, choose wisely, treat kindly, and bring out the best in your mate. She did only two of those three things right.
18 thoughts on “My Klausler tale”
You left a couple of doddering old coots alone in the wild? I would question that more than the shocking jump (instead of physically and carefully back-pedaling).
Believe me, if I could have back-peddled, I would have. I could not move. I could not even take off my pack without risking a fall. It was quite a pickle.
I tend to go hiking/fishing by myself too and always wonder if I should rethink that when I get out in the middle of nowhere. And I’ve had a few of those “should I really try this alone?” moments as well.
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Yes, I do gather the magnitude. Do we not all look back and occasionally say “Why the fuck did I do that?” I would say youth, but it seems that is inapplicable; perhaps simple aggravation (at self)?
Oh yeah, that deadfall – been there – awful.
Now, how about addressing this :”You left a couple of doddering old coots alone in the wild?”
I really don’t know how old they were, but Pete seemed older and a little out of shape. Bill, on the other hand, was an avid outdoorsman and often hiked and camped alone. Since Bill knew the way back, he would not make my mistake of descending too soon.
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Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti was openly critical of her father, especially during the Central American wars during his presidency. She wrote a book (I never read it) I think set in Nicaragua, called “Deadfall.”
So glad you made it, Mark, what a predicament. I’ve been watching the Alone series which I find fascinating (https://www.history.com/shows/alone) and came across the word deadfall for the first time (we don’t use it in Australia) for the first time literally three or four days ago. You could try out for it 🙂
Petra: those contestants are truly exceptional. Years, decades even of outdoor living in a manner continually reinforcing some of those find-or-die skills. Just the plant knowledge is incredible. I watch the show as well. In my opinion, if you want to view a true and complete outdoorsman, the guy you want on your team, then check out Roland in season 7 – a bona fide and ACTUAL Master.
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I kid you not I am watching him right now, literally right now and I was just thinking, “He’ll win for sure.”
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Yeah, the plant knowledge is incredible. What completely astounds me is the way some are prepared to actually keep staying when they’re literally starving and need to be medically extracted. I have no idea how they do it. I’d last 5 minutes.
I remember doing a self-development course which tested group synergy. The idea was that people doing an exercise as a group would perform better than any one individual in the group. The exercise was to determine the correct ranking of 15 items in terms of importance required to survive after a plane crash in the Arctic – the correct ranking had been determined by a bunch of experts and a scoring system was devised whereby if you got over a certain score it was determined you would survive while under it you’d perish. As individuals we had 10 minutes to work out the order and then we had 45 minutes to work it out again in groups of eight. 10 mins was ample time as an individual whereas 45 mins didn’t seem quite enough for the group funnily enough – or no surprise?
I’m not one to be shy about what I’m good at but I know survival in the wild simply isn’t one of them. I have no physical stamina, no sense of direction, no adeptness in making things, no real interest (except watching Alone), nothing. The only aspect I’d be strong in is not a huge amount of squeamishness in eating unpalatable things – I could eat (cooked) slugs, whatever.
When it gets to the group exercise, feeling no sense of expertise, I sit back and another woman takes leadership. On the first couple of items I agree but then on the third and beyond I don’t. I try to make my case but no one listens to me (story of my life). According to the scoring, my individual score meant I would have survived but as a group we would have perished – there were a number of groups and we were the only group where this situation resulted. The person leading the course kind of laid into me because he felt I should have been more persuasive of the other members but I simply don’t understand what I could have done.
On Off-Guardian I have put forward the “glorified exercise” hypothesis over “bare inside job” for FIVE YEARS and it’s still like walking through treacle. I’m like there are so many aspects which favour glorified exercise what the fuck do I have to do to get it through? I’ve just thought of another one. The only other building where deaths were reported at the WTC was in the Marriott Hotel (WTC-3). How could that be? What about 4, 5 and 6? How come no deaths in those buildings?
What I want to know is why there are no images of the WTC between 1 and 2 coming down? Anyone know of images between destructions 1 and 2?
For your amusement: survival stories from WTC-3
Actually, it’s only just occurred to me that if the course leader picked only on me I must have been the only person in my group of eight who got a survival score, everyone else must have got a perish score. How funny.
If I can talk vax for a second…
Another interesting post from Jef Demolder I came across. He raises the idea that there’s a subtle, but powerful, propaganda in the way vax history is presented to us. The focus is always on Jenner and Pasteur, in the 19th C, quickly moving into modern times. When, actually, mass vaccination has been ostensibly going on for centuries, even outside Europe!
This works to subtly associate vaxxing with the modern nation state, industrialism, and modern science. When, as he says, it comes out of the “Ancient World” – and all those “primitive,” unscientific peoples and times. It was in China, Turkey, etc. And also in Europe in the 18th C. The mainstream does glancingly touch on this (as you see in the quote below), but it doesn’t dwell on it. It’s in the background.
To me it raises intriguing questions about why TPTB have always had such a mania, going so far back. Too much speculation for a short post, but it’s curious.
“WIKIPEDIA UNDER “SMALLPOX”
The first clear reference to smallpox inoculation was made by the Chinese author Wan Quan in a publication in 1549. Two reports on the Chinese practice of inoculation were received by the Royal Society in London in 1700. An early mention of the possibility of smallpox’s eradication was made in reference to the work of Johnnie Notions, a self-taught inoculator from Shetland, Scotland, who found success in treating people from at least the late 1780s.
Here we are suddenly making a surprising jump to China and the 16th century. We are coming closer to the truth even when we are finding here another cliché of standard science history. In fact, the proposition “the Chinese invented this practice” means that this practice stems from the Ancient World. Of course there is no gradual spreading of the “Chinese” knowledge in the real world. Two reports, certainly made by western explorers, are sailing directly from Shangai to London. And even if smallpox has a general mortality of about 30%, and of 80% among children, nothing was done in Londen with this reports until when nearing the end of a century one pitiful Scottish tinkerer was trying something, of course only some years before Jenner, who is THE name in standard history. This is clearly false.”
This is all post worthy, if you don’t mind, or just let me take your comment and make it my post with attribution. I am in a dry spell, and this is, in addition to a book I just received today (Turtles All the Way Down), in alignment with my own thoughts on vaccines, that the practice is designed to shield large companies from lawsuits. Let me know how you want to play it. You get due credit in any circumstance.
Use however you like, I’m just mostly repeating Demolder’s insight myself. His article at the link has more info based on his research into old books. Lots of other interesting articles too.
Mark, great story. This line really touched me,
“(I would shortly thereafter give it up, and at an auction by our Unitarian church (yes, we were Unitarians at that time) I offered my fishing pole and reel, and a young boy was so happy to get them that I also gave him every other piece of fishing gear in my possession, poles, reels, line, lures, tackle box and flies. That was heartwarming, as I remember as a young kid how thrilling fishing was to me.)”
Simply wonderful, but mind you, I am already weakened by the vids of people rescuing animals from the hurricane, so I’m an easy mark.
The thing lacking that would make it more like a DSK work is a description of “a perfectly manicured dark brown isosceles triangle of very short hair set inside the just slightly larger white bikini triangle.” Nevertheless, awesome!
Reminded me of a game of frisbee golf played on Sutro Heights in SF some winter in the early 90s. Some pals from the old days were visiting, so we met at a friend’s place near the beach. His neighbors, known as “the witches” let my pals use some frisbees so we had enough for the five of us. (Their witchery, as it were, was mainly meth addiction, AFAIK)
After one well-thrown disc split into pieces on a tree due to the cold, a hex fell over the crew. (Note: it was an off-brand from Walgreens; tweakers do not usually buy originals) The one who broke it spoke little as the foggy afternoon led into misty night. For some reason, (the hex?), we later found ourselves bouldering on the rocks below the northern side of the Cliff House restaurant. The rocks are slick, of course, and covered with sharp edges and mossy growth, being at the southwestern edge of the Golden Gate. As I got further along, I remembered we had to get back somehow. Below was a fall of some thirty or forty feet to the icy Pacific, which broke unceasingly upon the rocks below. I looked up to the warm, bright, fogged windows of the restaurant, seeing smiling faces enjoying themselves. The patrons could not see us below in the wet darkness, and I wondered why I was there and not somewhere where imminent mutilation followed by drowning was not so near. Remaining calm, we all came to almost at once and carefully assisted one another off that death trap. Not quite like the end of “Into Thin Air”, but as close as I’d like to get.
Fortunately, the witches were not angry, and money was proffered for a replacement.
” I wondered why I was there and not somewhere where imminent mutilation followed by drowning was not so near.”
I think we need to go backwards into these adventures.
Excellent point, detective! I might allow that in this case, certain substances, ahem, may have been consumed by our frisbee party, and leave it at that.
“I am not presently disposed to discuss such an operation, if in fact, it did exist, sir.”
That was the part of your story that got me…blood on your arms, not wanting to backtrack, so going deeper in…until, a chasm! Good stuff!
Thank you Baja.