Fire Road Twenty-Four

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe night of the snake encounter. My brother Mike had asked if I wanted to go hiking in the Sierra Mountains, Near Kirkwood Mountain ski area. I guess by what he was saying you could go about 12 miles into the mountains via fire roads. He would go to the local information center in Kingsbeach area and get topographic maps so we could follow the roads and hike different mountain peaks.

I didn’t have much for mountain gear to start out with. He told me I probably will need a decent back pack and to go to the local Circle K and maybe I could find one. I went to the store and in the sporting equipment section I saw the perfect back pack. It was in stripes and stars of the American flag. It was relatively cheap looking and that was ok because I only had a little money. I had to get some other supplies. A thermos and maybe some plastic cups and plastic silverware would do.

I was feeling good that I was packed and ready. My brother picked me up at my house. Hey bro, How you doing? I’m doing great and excited for the trip. How many day’s do you think we are going to hike. Well, I have three days off and do not have to be back until Friday night. Ok, I replied, sounds good to me. The drive up the mountain pass to where we was about to begin this trip was like forty-five minutes away. Hey bro? Here is a beer to start the trip. I was smiling from ear to ear.

Mike was an ambitious young man and the outdoors was really his fancy. I liked being around him because of this outdoor excitement. We did a lot of trips together which I probably wouldn’t do if it weren’t for his planning. We made it to the start of the hike, Mike brought out the topo maps and we decided to take Fire road 24 which would take us to the north ridge. We hiked all day and stopped for a few beer breaks along the way. Mike told me that we better start looking for a place to bed down for the night.

We found a nice flat spot near the top of the North Ridge and it was a perfect place to start a small campfire. It was hidden by tree’s and hopefully we wouldn’t start a forest fire. We had some cans of beef stew and cooked it up. We needed the protein for energy for the hike tomorrow. We sat and talked for a few hours until I told Mike that I was going to bed. I lay awake for a few minutes and fell quickly fast asleep.

Ouch! Something had just punctured me in the thigh and I about jumped through the roof of the tent. I was trying to find my flashlight but that was outside in my backpack. I tried to find the zipper on the tent and something hit me again right on my stomach. Ouch! I found the zipper and ran out of the tent hollering all the way. My brother came out of his tent and asked what is all the hollering about? Something just bit me, twice actually Mike. He had a flashlight and looked into my tent. Oh my god bro, it is a timber- rattler. I was starting to feel a little dizzy and getting very weak. Bro? I have to get you back down the Mountain in a hurry if you are going to survive this. He gathered all our stuff and left my tent right where it stood. Bro, we have to get moving fast. He put his arms around me and we started the trek back down the ridge.

I was really starting to fail fast and walking was like I had never walked before. Bro, you have to keep going! Hang in there because your not going to die on my watch. We finally made it back to the vehicle and Mike raced fast as he could to the nearest hospital which was twenty minutes away in Truckee, California. The doctor put some anti-venom into me and by the next morning I was starting to feel like myself again. My brother had save my life and I owed everything to him.

I loved my brother and his exploration of the wilderness. He had a love of the world like no other and wanted to share everything about it with his family. Mike took ill back in 1990 and couldn’t survive the infections that he had. If only I had half the ambition he had for life. I will never forget the time in the mountains with him. Thanks Bro it was a wonderful memory of you today. I’m looking up to ya Bro.

©Bilodeau,D.H. 2014

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