I checked my gear as a matter of routine. My backpack had all the bare necessities for a day in the forest as a fixed content. As a matter of standard I had one extra warm layer of clothing, a poncho doubling as a one person tent, dried food and a bottle of water. Now that I was in the normal world again, I also had use for my IPhone at last. I texted my sister and close friends that I would be home in just a few days and received enthusiastic responses. On my person I always had my trusty folding knife and the small, waterproof tin with fishing hooks and line, matches, compass, mirror, wire saw and other assorted small items necessary for surviving a friendly forest. That was what I had learned as a girl scout and it stuck with me. Girl Scouts was also responsible for my love of woods and nature. I never had to resort to using my emergency tin, but it kindof was a basic insurance if you will, when walking through the wilderness.
I recognized that the checking of myself and my gear was a nervous reaction. I was used to being responsible for myself, but today was a different kind of adventure. I was not unfamiliar to the forest or the trees or the birds and the bees. I had wandered in the woods for days on end, loving every second of it. I had become quite the accomplished hiker and climber. For the past four months I had been locked up in a high tower on the top of a hill, serving as a fire spotter. I felt that I knew every tree that there was within eyesight. There was the spotting of the occasional fire now and then, mostly campers that were cooking their meal, but for the most part it was quiet in my parts of the Canadian forest. On some days I had to do nature observation from the ground and I loved doing that the most. It meant checking growth statistics on trees and bushes, counting bear and moose, sampling soil and air and all that stuff that a full grown ranger needed to do. Becoming a ranger was also my plan for the future.
Yesterday was the last day of my stint and though I loved living in my small world all alone, with my self-grown vegetables, my deer and wolf pack and my trees, enough is enough. I wanted to go back to civilization and finish my degree in forestry. As a farewell, the department of forestry treated me to a fire flight with one of their small aircraft, a Cessna 172. It used to have a pilot and an observer anyway and today I was the observer. The weather was magnificent. The sun was out. Fresh rains had filtered the dust from the air and the view was almost infinite.
So that's where I was, sitting on the edge of the tarmac with my trusty gear and my expectations of the flight and my memories of the months past. A few hundred yards away sat the small airplane with which we were going to fly.
The pilot turned out to be a young guy. Fresh out of flight school. As I saw him make preparations at the airplane, I observed that he was a beautiful man: lean, muscled, clean shaven, blue eyes. The works. He made my heart go faster and my pussy go moist.
I had an intimate knowledge of my body and its sex parts. I had frigged myself to orgasms for years and as The Urge hit me multiple times daily this summer, I knew all of my erogenous zones intimately. And there are a lot of them. But since the scare of my best friend Mags getting knocked up at sixteen, I had put off sex with a mate. Or to put it bluntly: I am a virgin, cherry and all. Oh I've had offers. What do you think as one of the very rare women at forestry school, and being a babe? And I am. Even more so after this summer with my abundant exercise, hiking and climbing and working my garden. My location was so remote that I had days without a stitch on. I only had one visitor every fortnight when I received supplies and hikers rarely came by. It would need major adjusting now that I was back in civilization.
Through all the hard labor my muscles had toned and my body got tight all over. For the first time in my twenty-one years I was satisfied with my hard abs and my toned ass and tits. My long legs and arms have lost their baby fat and are creamy and gracious. My hair turned blond once again through all the exposure to the sun and it was now touching my ass. Obviously it was long already when I got here. My shiny belly button piercing stood out marvelously against my tight muscles and tanned abs. Yeah I know: you wouldn't think that a virgin would have a piercing, let alone two. That the second one is in my tongue doesn't make it easier to turn down boys. For some reason it is a sign of sluttery or something. I do like the rebel feeling of it, reason for getting one at fifteen at the height of puberty. It's better than getting pregnant isn't it?
"Ready Miss?" I heard from behind me. "I'm Mike and we'll be flying together." My dreamy pilot had finished his checks. I had seen him do a thorough check of all nuts and bolts, the lines of the airplane, drain petrol, fill the oil reservoir and the works. Now the two doors under the wings were opened and I climbed in on the right side. It felt more like putting on a plane than entering it, though I was happy to find that my tighter body had slimmed instead of grown with muscle. The chair was pulled forward, seatbelts were fastened and headphones put on. Then I heard the plane fire up. The gyros came to life with a hum and the meters showed something. When the pilot started up the propeller started turning with a few strenuous coughs, which righted the plane. On the radio I heard him announce our departure and his intent to patrol pattern Zulu. He explained to me that he needed to do runup checks at the beginning of the runway and he checked power and magnetos. After receiving clearance we speeded up and I heard him mutter 'rotate' and we flew!
It was the most fantastic view. A plane, even on low altitude, immediately broadens the view around you. I could see the outskirts of town and when he took the appropriate direction, the vast extends of the forest that I had learned to love.
First we followed a highway that lead us deeper into the wooded area and then at a certain mountain he turned right and checked in with the controller that we had entered point Alpha, to start flying pattern Zulu. For the next half hour we flew along a stream, where I could see the fish and the bears. We followed ridges where I could see the trees and the rough terrain. We spotted fishermen and hunters and once even a hiker's couple making love in the sun. It is amazing how clear everything is from above, even from 1,500 feet.
Then pattern Zulu took us into the bush some more. The pilot climbed to 3,000 feet and we entered the outback. People came here, but very rarely. All the more reason to check for fires. Another half hour of flying and we entered a lovely valley as we flew between two mountain ridges. The pilot had to keep close to one of the ridges, so as to have room to make a turn if necessary. If he would fly in the middle, it could be difficult to do so. But he was kind enough to choose the left side ridge and give me the perfect view. At the end of the valley we had to turn left through a pass and then turn slightly right again and dive behind a high mountain ridge. About 10 minutes in I heard him mutter something.
"What's that?" I asked him.
"Oh I'm sorry, that wasn't meant for your ears. I remembered that I had to call in and announce point Foxtrot before entering the pass." He explained.
"So do it now," I offered.
"Can't. For the next hour or so we are out of radio range. These high mountains make it impossible to reach base. Ah well. There's only a 50 minute shadow left. We'll be okay." He sounded very sure and convincing and the plane purred like a kitten, so we both settled back.
Until now we had not seen any suspicious smoke or fire. One group of hunters had a fire, but it was contained. We checked and it was all right. The rain these last days had made the forest damp and provided small chance for fires. On this side of the mountain range, the story was not much different; green forest as far as the eye could see and no sign of smoke whatsoever. On the horizon, way over to the left, I did see a haze of white. My eyesight had always been excellent and the training my dark hazel eyes got these past four months had been great too.
"What's that?" I asked the pilot.
"I dunno. I have heard of a beautiful waterfall system, but it is out of route, so I never went to see. I guess that's what it is." He said and same as me he stared at the horizon.
"Do you think we can go see?" I said. I really hoped so. I loved the flight and the view and the waterfalls would be perfect.
I saw him do an instrument check and I guess everything was in the green.
"We shouldn't, but if you don't tell, I won't tell" he said, looking at me.
I made the zipper move across my lips and with a grin, he turned left to chase the waterfalls.
It took us 15 minutes to reach the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen. There were multiple locations with a long drop where the water fell or cascaded down. With the sunlight in our backs I could see rainbows forming on the cliffs. It was fantastic, right up to the moment that the engine coughed. Mike quickly pulled some levers and switches and it purred like before.
"Sometimes it does that. Not to worry though." So I tried not to. Mike's face was a bit strung and I could see scenario's going through his mind. Apparently he was satisfied now and we did another round of the waterfalls, this time going down below to the big river where the water ended up. The white water, wildly bouncing from rock to rock was magnificent once again. When the land widened slightly and the river went down to a wild but more relaxed stream, he turned around. We needed to gain altitude to clear the waterfalls and return to our set pattern for inspection.
That's when the second cough sounded. This time more persistent. Mike had to do all kinds of things to keep the engine running and he tried to gain altitude fast. The waterfalls already came close and this steep ridge needed a well flying plane.
"I don't understand." I heard from his side. I saw him do the motions over and over and every time he said: "all is well, nothing out of line. I do have enough gas," he tapped against the glass of some gauges but found nothing out of the ordinary. Then he froze.
"WHAT!?" I yelled.
"The gauges. It says our tanks are full!" he said and I could see panic on his face.
"SO what?" I started panicking too.
"They must be broken. We're in the air for three hours already. How can our tanks be full? They should indicate more or less halfway. SHIT! I should have double checked with a dipstick."
The magnitude of the problem hit me hard. If the tanks were running on empty, there was no solution. We couldn't fix this in the air.
"So now what?" I tried to keep my fear in check. I failed miserably.
"So we need to land now. While we have at least some gas left. Look out for any flat land that you can find. Or flat water for that matter. It will be a crash, but hopefully a manageable one." All the training this young man had received came back to him quickly. Hopefully it was enough to safe us. He started a steady 'Mayday, mayday mayday' call with our GPS coordinates, but he already told me we were out of reach. I guess he hoped for anybody with a radio to pick it up.
We flew in the direction of the waterfalls and the white water. We were low and would never manage to gain enough altitude to clear the ridge. We could not turn around either, so this was it. Then the engine stopped altogether.
"150 feet. Enough to do a circle and prepare for landing." I heard him mutter to himself." But where? We hadn't found a suitable piece of earth that could take us. The water was filled with heavy rocks, the trees grew up to the water's edge. We flew around a bend in the river and there it was: a 150 foot long sandy bank, lined with rocks on the sides. In the back I could see the waterfalls, forming a wall to make things even more definitive. So this was it. Life or death.
The wild river to our left sputtered and frothed and big boulders stuck from the bed. Mike made his approach. He tried to maintain altitude as much as he could. After all, there would be no second chance if he fell short, no engine to pull us up for a second try. In the end we fell hard towards that tiny piece of salvation and Mike made a perfect touch down in the water just before the bank, to maximize the 'runway' distance and also to make it a short landing. The plane touched down, the wheels grabbed the ground, but our speed was still high. Too high for the boulder on the left side which we hit full force with our left landing gear. With a gigantic pull we came to a sudden stop and the plane was spun hard to the left, the wheel broke off by the boulder and the wing fell hard into the white water just beyond. It pivoted the plane hard to the left and the rock entered our cockpit, instantly killing Mike. I saw.
Then the plane became a play thing to the water. The forward motion of the plane pivoted it into the river. I knew Mike was gone, but I had not. I was complete and healthy, was far as I could tell. But things turned ugly quickly. The plane was slowly pulled to shreds by the water and we floated down river towards a series of sharp rocks and tumbling water. I needed to get out now. Forget about Mike or the plane, I needed to look out for myself.
With difficulty I managed to open my door. The plane was tilted to the left, so I was on the high side. The water slowly took hold of the stationary plane and within minutes it would be dragged out and down. So I struggled with the stupid safety belts, which most likely had saved my life and tried to get out. I was hindered by my rucksack that I had at my feet, since I drank from my bottle some. I grabbed it, got my feet with my sturdy walking boots into the water and used the tail of the plane to hold on to and get me over to the sandy bank. The last steps I had to duck under the tail, but then I had arrived. And not too soon. With a cracking sound the plane was taken by the water and it floated slowly into the stream. Then it gained speed faster and faster and within seconds the big plane was being smashed into the rocks and shredded to tiny bits that were taken by the stream. I never saw Mike's body, but it was taken too.
I fell on my ass on the sandy bank, and cried.
The light was fading when I awoke from my crying and feeling sorry for myself. Everything had exhausted me to no end. By now I was used to rising early and the flight was in the afternoon. It meant that it had drained quite some energy from me and I fell asleep on the soggy damp bank.
Now that I was awake, everything came back to me and I sobbed once again, but the fading daylight made me realize that I needed to do something. The remote location that I was in, or better said: desolate, called for strong measures. First of all I found that apart from serious bruises and some scrapes, I was unharmed. Mike's death had left me with serious problems as the trauma of seeing him being killed from up close reentered my brain. That I had only known him a few hours was a comforting thought against the alternative of a lover or a family member being the victim.
As we had had radio silence since from across the far away mountain ridge and no one knew we were exploring the waterfalls, I had no illusions of ever being found. Phone coverage had seized as soon as we cleared the town. Rule number one in survival is to stay with the vehicle, but by now that was shredded into bits and miles away from here. There was just one thing I could depend on from now until salvation and that was: me. Those that survived hopeless situations all had one thing in common: they never gave up.
I knew there was only one way to go from here and that was downstream, wherever that led. We had crossed a high mountain ridge and if that proved to be the watershed I could now not be certain that this here river would take me to me starting point this morning. The walk downriver could take days or even weeks. And who knows: even months. I needed to prepare for that, physically and mentally. But first things first. I needed to be safe, warm and fed, in that order. Bear was all over the mountains, but this close to the waterfall I guess there was not that much fish. I decided to build an elevated resting place first and then go find food.
Fresh saplings were abundantly present and once I decided in which tree I was to build my platform it was work of 30 minutes to cut down the trees and fabricate the small bed. I regretted that I had not taken my hammock which would have ensured a comfortable bed and protection against mosquitos and rain. But there was no reason I would have packed it for a 6 hour fire flight.
On my numerous hiking trips this past summer I was trained in handling rough terrain and I got to know the edible resources of the mountain. It didn't take long to find roots and berries that I could eat. Water was in ample supply and potable too. So I carried my treasures back to the waterfront and picked up dry wood for a fire. My survival kit had a lighter in it and in no time the flames reached up high. I also had a fire flint for when I had no lighter anymore.
Mike's accident left blood on my clothes so I decided to wash them now. The fire would dry them quickly and it was still reasonably warm. Taking off my clothes was work of a minute and soon I was down to my pink panties and bra. I hadn't worn a bra all summer, but as of today, returning to civilization, I thought it was required. With a feeling of sentiment of things lost, I pulled off my B size bra and I knew I wasn't going to wear them again this trip. My tits were strong and needed no support, especially after the trim they got during hikes. They're a big handful, so perfect for size. The panties were a set with the bra. I had wallowed myself on the luxuriousness of the set and the soft feel of satin. I had worn thongs forever and this set too was a thong set. I decided to wash them with the rest and dry them at the fire too.
Naked I was in my element once again and I remained naked until it was too cold. By then my clothes had dried so I donned the thong and stashed my bra. The raceback top, my blouse and tight shorts, together with my extra sweater made sure I was warm enough. I just had to accept my bare legs. I pulled my poncho around me and kept the survival blanket on standby if needed. The chill reminded me that it was late August. It would turn September in a couple of days and a short fall would be upon me. The first rains were already here. Worst case, I could be stuck here during winter. That would be a whole different ball of wax.
The next morning I found that the mosquitos had had a party. My watch told me it was 6 a.m., my normal waking time. First I restarted the fire with some embers that had survived the night. I didn't have a pot or anything to boil water in and make pine tea. So I had to make do with the water from my bottle. Breakfast was berries with beef jerky and then I decided it was time for a bath.
Naked I walked over to the water to find a slow running spot and found my period had started. I washed my coochie carefully and had to find something to catch the flow. Some Cleanex from my backpack should do the trick and tide me over until the flow was too heavy or until I found an alternative. Ripping shreds from my clothes would be silly, as I needed them for warmth. I could always remain naked on my bottom half and wash regularly.
All solved and dressed once again, I made out to start the long walk.
Lunch again was a sober thing. Berries and roots for eating and cold water from the river for drinking. It dawned on me that this might just be one of those hidden spots where no man had set foot before. Being close to the magnificent waterfalls made me doubt myself on that thought, but fact was that I had not seen a single shred of evidence that man had been here at all. I had to make myself a mug and dish. I had a plastic spork in my backpack: a going away present from my kid sister and a laugh at the time. Now it was all too serious. Most of all, I needed something to boil in.
Being a clever girl, I had an app on my phone with survival tips. I guess that by now you think I am this new female Bear Grylls, but you couldn't be further from the truth. I had all these survival gear and information to be closer to nature. To be able to live off the land, to be one with my surroundings. And now I praised myself for the foresight to have this on my phone. It was a very handy tool. I needed to be careful with my batteries, but I was glad I opened the app. It says that you can boil water or tea in a plastic bottle. Just make sure it is completely filled with liquid, so there is no air in the bottle and simply put it in a fire. I only had one shot, but I went for it. I added green pine needles to the river water as a makeshift tea and made sure no air was in the bottle. And what do you know: the plastic did not melt and I had hot tea. Sure I don't think I can use it endlessly, but for now it helped.
I rested a bit and played out scenarios for the rest of the travel. Though the situation was dire, I felt one with nature. It was a beautiful day, birds were singing, I had seen deer. I felt relaxed and I felt The Urge. The Urge was something that came to me easily and the past four months I could do something about it immediately so I was conditioned to satisfy myself without delay. Those are the advantages of being alone. It was work of just a few seconds to open my shorts and to pull my thong to the side and I happily buried two fingers in my itching pussy. While diddling with myself I made sure that both pants dropped to the floor and I stepped out of them, still in my hiking shoes. Satisfaction came soon and I screamed out my release while dropping down to my hunches. The Urge satisfied I washed my hands and coochie and dressed to take up my hike again.
That afternoon I found a perfect camping spot under some trees. The natural shelter was too good to pass by so I decided to stay here for the night. I used the time to prepare some fishing lines and tied them to some roots on the water's edge. I was so glad that I listened to veteran survival experts and build me my kit. The three lines secure, I went and got me dry wood, kindle and some branches to serve as roasting aids. I build the shelter to fit my needs and was reasonably happy with the result. All major things taken care of, I undressed and washed my socks and underwear for the next day. I took my bath upstream and took care of another case of The Urge while at it. Then I found a large flat boulder in the sun and lounged a bit. The rock was warm and the sun was not strong, but still nice. I already had a strong all over tan and I added this spark of sunlight to it. I had to force myself to move and check the fishing lines.
Big success! Two of the three lines had fish on them. One trout and one salmon. I had been afraid that fish was out of season at this time, but I proved to be wrong in that. I dressed both fishes as I had done at home in the past and decided to eat the trout tonight and prepare the salmon for later. I could slice parts of it and conserve them by drying and smoking. It didn't all go smoothly that first time, but later I sat satisfied with my belly filled and my rucksack provisioned. While the fishing was good, I had decided to throw back my lines and later that evening I found another salmon hooked. This one was smoked too.
As the sun was setting, I donned my clothes and prepared for sleep. Not forgetting to hang my rucksack high and far away from my resting place. With the salmon in it it was a nice snack for a passing bear. So was I, I thought with a light shiver.
Morning arrived early as always and I used my newfound technique to make me a pine tea. It was a bitter brew, but warm and healthy. I could use the tea all day long, along with drinking from the river. I set off once again.
On a normal road, flat and tarmacked, I could make 3 miles an hour. Might even been more now since I exercised all summer long. I guess that number was down to 1 mile an hour in the dense woods and the uneven, rocky terrain. There were numerous side streams that I had to negotiate or simply pass through and the undressing and redressing took time too. I knew the only way to keep alive was to just do it and I was able to keep spirits high for the next week and a half. I had enough to eat and found dry shelter along the way. Sure, I would love to have a bed, and a bath and a mani-pedi, but they're just not where I was. I settled in a good routine which was only hindered by the rough terrain. And the weather.
It started raining heavily. Not the short rain that I had once a day or at night, but heavy downpoor. It started in the afternoon and I felt lucky that I had enough food prepared to go without a fire, because I didn't think this rain would let up soon. My military grade poncho did good work keeping me dry enough.
When I looked around me, I found myself in a gorge of sorts. There was a narrow strip of land along the side and I climbed over the assorted rocks that were strewn all over. After half an hour I noticed that the water level was rising. And then it dawned on me: the feeder streams and the river were now getting rid of the heavy downpoor. The level would rise more and I could possibly drown in this narrow gorge! I started making haste in my need to exit this treacherous gorge, but I overstepped. A searing pain shot through my right ankle and I needed to slowly walk it off. I was softly reminded that haste is always a bad thing to act on. I could have broken something and then my fate would have been definite. Now I took care once again in placing my feet, accepting that a fully dressed swim in the river might be needed if things became critical.
Lucky for me, the exit to the gorge loomed after about 15 minutes and not a minute too soon. The water level had risen to the level that I was knee deep into the water and the flow had increased to thunderous levels too. I gladly made my way to the broad forest once again and assured a resting place high up. I needed to regroup myself, assess the damage to my foot and get my head straight.
For one thing, the incident had reminded me that I was not on a pleasure hike. This was about surviving a deeply desperate situation. Winter was nearing and though the river flowed down and the elevation of the land diminished likewise, the first snow had surprised me one morning already. It was just a film of snow, but it was a messenger for more to come. There and then I decided that whatever it took to stay alive, I needed to do it.
I had produced bare necessities like a plate and a mug, cut from fresh wood. I needed to fabricate pant legs at some time, but I was still good. A sawing kit and a big-eyed needle in my tin would help me make pants, but I was contemplating about which material to use. If I could catch an animal, I could use the hide. There were rabbits and moose and deer that I could use for it, but I knew I couldn't catch the larger ones. My survival app was helpful once again and I decided to place snares to catch squirrels or rabbits.
Once I had made the loops in the wire from my tin, I held them over the fire to get rid of my human scent and replace it with smoke scent. At least that was familiar to the animals, opposed to my scent. I looked for trails or wildlife routes to place the snare on. Four nights didn't deliver my animal and I remained eating fish and roots. Then on the fifth night I caught me a rabbit. Its hind leg was caught in the snare and the animal was still alive. I cried about that, because I knew I had to kill it one way or another. With its leg damaged beyond repair it couldn't survive. I had hoped to find a dead animal, but now I took it by the neck and body. The rabbit struggled to get out of my grip so I got a grip on myself and twisted its head. A cracking sound proved I was successful and I fell down crying. The white furred animal didn't move anymore.
I had my hide and fresh meat. I dressed and butchered the small creature according to the app and skinned its hide. That morning I had a welcome change to the diet and ate my fresh meat. I smoked and saved the rest of the meat and stored it in my backpack. I saved the sinews for sowing and discarded the carcass and bones.
I sat and thought about these past weeks in the wilderness. I had been walking for four weeks already. My feet were doing great. In the beginning I had some blisters, but my shoes had been broken in perfectly by former hikes and my feet were almost one with the shoes. That was a blessing. My body was doing great too. I had enough to eat, though fats were difficult to come by. The fish and the meat were just replenishing the used fat, to break even at best. My second menstrual period of the hike had announced itself and I was prepared this time, using dried grass to catch the flow. It was a challenge to keep the wad positioned right in my thongs.
Four weeks at 8 hours of hiking a day at 1 mile per hour, makes 224 miles. Distract some recovery days and short days so I rounded it down to 200 miles. I was curious to find how many miles it was to the waterfalls in a straight line. I guess it was only 150 miles at best. The river meandered a lot. It was less than an hour flight with the small Cessna. I stood and set off once again.
A week passed and once again the morning was great. Through all my negative thoughts about surviving, especially now that the increasing amount of snow became a fixed occurrence every morning, I could still enjoy the forest and its rough beauty. I had wandered into a wide valley with meadows and trees. The river had slowed down, from a thunderous to a fast speed. High mountains rose up on both sides from this idyllic spot, far away enough to be seen in all their glory. An eagle pair with their grown up young soared high above, in search of small prey.
Then, my world grinded to a stop with the sound of sand in a thousand gears. Signs of human life. On the edge of the water front I saw wooden steps rising from the water. Now with the elevated water level it could be used to get to the river and when the levels dropped, one could go down a few steps and still easily access the water. A dam had been fabricated around it to produce a reasonable tranquil patch of water.
It was all I could see for now, but I was lucky that the build was on my side of the river. I would see other signs of life soon, I was sure. And indeed once I neared the steps I could see a path of treaded down grass and snow. This meant this was not just a hunting facility, but people actually lived here today! I felt a strong excitement flowing through me and at the same time an even stronger hesitation. For one: I had depended on myself for more than five weeks and did very well. I didn't know who lived in this house; could be a mass murderer hiding out. And then: how could they be of help to me? Could they arrange transportation to civilization? Tell me how far I had to go? Board me for the winter? How many people were there and were they men and/or women?
Only one way to find out. I started following the path. It lead up through the pines and birch and ended up at a magnificent place. A log cabin with a wide porch around it and a saddle roof sat with its back against a young forest, falling away against its backdrop. The view from the porch must be incredible: you could see all of the river and its meadows. To the side it had a small covered barn and the biggest stack of firewood I had ever seen. I even saw a corral kind of thing and a friendly cow looking at me and a horse and filly in a far meadow. A very small plume of smoke billowed from the chimney, so thin that I hadn't seen it from afar.
"Ahoy there at the house!" I yelled. I mean, what would you do? Maybe the owner didn't want me there and would blast me away on entrance. Everybody owns at least one gun in the Canadian mountains. I couldn't just knock.
Well, I was partially right.
"Stay there and put your hands up," a strong male voice came from my left. The 'hands up' part made me realize that indeed the man would most certainly have a gun. He should in these parts. I complied.
"Do you have any weapons on you?" he asked.
"Just my folding knife," I uttered. I knew that I couldn't be afraid. Signs of weakness are immediately punished in the wilderness, same goes for mountain men. But I was tense to say the least.
"Throw it on the ground." He demanded.
The sheath was on my belt. You need to have easy access to your knife at all times and it needs to be on your person, like any basic survival gear. I dropped the knife and made sure it was a few feet in front of me. Now I could still see it.
"Anything else?" he asked.
"No fire arms?" this time his tone of voice was amazed. Nobody enters the wilderness without fire arms.
The man entered my line of sight. I didn't know what to expect. Maybe a Grizzly Adams kinda guy, or an old trapper. But what I saw was different. A younger guy for sure. Maybe late twenties, early thirties. It was not easy to see through his rough beard and long hair. He was a big guy, maybe 6'6" and full of muscles. He had a hat on and a lumber jacket. His pants were sturdy and stuck in a pair of boots that were exactly what you might need in rough mountain terrain.
"What do you want here?" he asked. Stupid question: watch TV? Go bowling?
"Eeuuh, some help to get to civilization?" It sounded like a 'duuuh'.
"You're on the right track. Continue for another month or two and you'll reach civilization for what it's worth. Bye now." He turned away from me to start towards his house.
"A month or two? That's in the middle of winter!" I yelled at his back. I wasn't going to be brushed off like this. I started after him and picked up my knife in passing. "At least tell me where I am and where I'm supposed to be going." Finally he turned around and stood there silent in thought for a good minute.
"Want coffee?" he didn't wait for an answer and turned around to continue his walk. Of course I followed.
The house was nice and warm. It was a log cabin all right: rounded beams with flattened tops, bottoms and inside to assure a tight fit and some resemblance of a finishing on the inside. The room was smallish with a big bed on the right side and a table and two chairs in the middle. Against the back I could see a small kitchen with a stove. The biggest surprise was the desk and laptop that I found against the left side wall.
"You've got internet!" I screamed. I was saved. I could send a message to mountain rescue or the Mounties. They could come and get me.
"A computer does not make internet I'm afraid. I'm expecting a dish next spring though." Was his answer while he diddled in the kitchen with boiling water and arranging coffee.
"But, but, but..." I sounded like Candace from Phineas and Ferb, " ... computers need power!" I argued. Okay, not a very strong argument.
"Power I do have. I have a windmill and solar panels." He remained at an explanation, not an apology or anything. Then he turned around with two steaming mugs in his hands. "Coffee."
The conversation was almost nonexistent from there on. I managed to find out that his name was Sean McDermott and I was given a chance to introduce myself as Samantha Van Harlem and then the chat stopped. In the end I volunteered my story. About the crash at the waterfalls, some five weeks ago, Mike's death and my hike to this place. Finally he thawed out a bit. I guess he saw that I had to struggle for my life and he liked that. I didn't have a map of the place, so I needed to follow the river, but Sean told me that he had visited the falls and it took him a week on horseback. But he crossed the range in between his house and the falls where I had to take the long way around.
"So how do I get to civilization the quickest?" I asked him.
"You need to take the narrow path through the mountains and it will take you two to three weeks on horseback. Following the river by foot will get you to the trading post in two months and another month to the next city."
"So what you're saying is that I should take the mountain path on foot?" I asked.
"No, I'm not saying that. You won't find enough food in the mountains and that's only your smallest problem. Winter has started up there already. You'll never survive the harsh conditions, especially in your shorts and fleece sweater. Your only route is to keep to the river, but then again, winter will be upon you too before the week is out."
This was very bad. My worst expectations had come through: I would be stuck here for the entire winter. At least this man had made himself a good house and then it dawned on me that the only alternative, the third scenario, was to stay here with this hermit. I was afraid to ask. But I had to.
"Can ... may I stay with you until the snow has gone enough for me to walk on in spring?"
"Wha..." I didn't count on a flat out refusal. "You can't kick me out into the winter. I'll die!"
"Not my problem. I don't want anybody around me. Why do you think I live here up the mountain? I have just enough supplies for myself as it is, so I cannot have you here."
"I'll sleep with the animals. I'll eat very little and I'll hunt for extra's. Please don't kick me out!" I started begging him. In essence I was begging him for my life. I already made my mind up weeks ago that I would do anything to keep alive, so begging was just another step, like killing rabbits. And I got used to that.
"No, I just don't want anybody with me." Was his final reply and he turned away from me.
"Please Sean. I'll do anything you'll ask from me. I'll wash and sow, I'll clean and hunt. I know all about edible plants in the forest and I'll keep the animals fed and milked. Please Sean, I'll stay away from you as much as I can. I'll stay in the barn, you'll hardly know I'm here." By now I was on my knees in front of him, still on his chair.
"Anything?" he asked. "Any chore that needs to be done? Splitting wood, mucking the stable, dressing deer?" He thought he made it hard on me, but I had killed four rabbits to this day and I had peace with the death of an animal for my sake. A deer or a moose is just a whole lot larger, but I was certain that I could do it after proper instruction.
"Anything." I promised and then the bomb fell.
"Warming my bed? Taking care of my personal needs?" In other words: sex. I took a very large breath and slowly let go of it. His face was unyielding and no emotions spoke from his eyes. Now you are truly tested on survival instincts. Are you prepared to go this far? The alternative was to build my own log cabin or shelter and survive in the intense cold of winter without any form of preparation. I knew what to answer.