I’ll include a few photos in this post just because I don’t know when I’ll be able to set up my mac again.
So here is the story of how I got stranded and rescued.
I wanted to get out of the hot apartment for a bit and shoot the sunset from somewhere in the hills. As I was driving up one of the mountain roads I saw a sign for grizzly peak, which I’d heard of and new was a tough hike, but never knew where it was. I wasn’t really thinking about anything other than making it to the summit by sunset, which was going to be a challenge because the views were about a mile and a half into the trail on a steady incline.
Instead of grabbing one of the flashlights from my car, I just went for it. The trails I’m use to don’t go through forests, which means theres plenty of light even after the sun goes down. Well, if you’ve never been in a forest at night, theres no light. I’m painfully aware of this now.
The trail has a loop about 1.1 miles into the hike. I wasn’t familiar with the trail or the loop, so after I was done with the sunset, I thought I’d continue on the loop instead of just retracing my steps. Bad idea. As I got to the other side of the mountain, I got a signal again and checked the map on my phone. Turns out the loop is quite long and I was taking the really long way back. Instead of turning around like I should have, I continued on.
One of the things that screwed me was the map on my phone wasn’t even accurate. There was another short trail off of the loop. Of course, thats where I ended up and had trouble finding where that trail led with the flashlight app. To make things worse, my battery was being drained by that app. I decided I had to just call my friend to come find me because I knew the battery wouldn’t last much longer now that it was below 20%.
It was about 9:45 when I called them to come find me. I turned my phone off for about 45 minutes to conserve the power. The temperature seemed to be dropping fast at about 5900 feet. Luckily, I brought a light jacket with me. I was worried that there might be bears or mountain lions around, so I laid down next to some large rocks in a clearing. I decided to just watch some stars and satellites for a while to keep myself busy. Unfortunately, just laying there wasn’t keeping me warm, so I got up and started shooting some stars.
I’ll fast forward a little bit now. Cory, my friends fiance and outdoorsman, brought a whistle and flashlight with him so I could hear him when he got nearby. It was a funny feeling being able to hear the whistle in the distance. Even moreso when I heard it go too far in the wrong direction. I made a quick call at that point and told them to turn back and take the other loop trail. As soon as I said my phone was about to die, it did. Whats interesting to me is I usually take headphones with me and listen to music while I hike and shoot. This time I left them in the car. If I had them, my battery would have been dead long before this point and I may have been stuck for hours longer.
Back to the story, Cory turned around and I could hear the whistle getting closer. I was whistling back at him, which I later found out he couldn’t hear at all. It sounded loud to me though. A few minutes later we started yelling each others names back and forth, like marco polo in the forest. I think it was around this time that I realized I could use my autofocus assist lamp to light the path, so I started heading in his direction. KEEP THAT IN MIND IF YOU’RE EVER STUCK IN THE DARK!
Another 10-15 minutes of that and we were finally getting really close to each other. Then I heard something big. Like really big just ahead of me in the woods. I thought I heard a large animal and a large boulder. That kinda freaked me out, so I stopped in my tracks until I saw his flashlight. He finally found me around 11:30pm and we made our way back down the mountain and made it to the cars by 12:15.
So heres what I learned. No sunset shoots until I know the trails. Let people know where you’re going and take someone if you can. I was too close to being that guy from California that gets airlifted from the forest in Oregon after living here for a few days lol.
I’m going to be adding a little flashlight, a whistle, and a pocketknife to my camera bag now.