Monday, August 16, 2010

Auburn Trail Part III: Panning for Gold © 2010 Dakini Verona

Auburn Trail Part III: Panning for Gold © 2010 Dakini Verona

There I was, lost in the foothills of the Sequoia National Forrest on a quest to find shelter before nightfall. I ventured down the trail a bit further, until it became clear to me that I needed to find a way to protect myself from the night. Off the path, I saw a ravine surrounded by a grove of trees, with piles of dried leaves and branches. The area seemed fairly well protected, for being out in the open. I tried to remember my limited survival training in the scouts. We learned about how to make a lean to. 

I did remember that they were supposed to be easy to make. Well not as easy when you have no tools or team mates to help. But I did succeed in pulling some dead branches together, leaning them against the trees and then using the leaves and small twigs to cover the frame. I gathered more dried leaves and created a bed. I crawled under this primitive shelter, burying myself in the leaves and tried to fall asleep. 

I was tired and cold and very hungry. I ate all my berries to distract me from the sounds of creatures of the night. Just small sounds like that must have been ground squirrels and bunnies running from night predators. At least there was no threat of bear. Not tonight.

I was grateful that those hills were protected from the cold desert night. The temperature dropped a bit, but it was tolerable. The sounds of the forest lulled me off to sleep. The skies were still dark when I was abruptly awaked by the birds greeting the dawn. They seemed so much louder here in the wilderness. They must have been empowered by their freedom.

I decided to continue on the path which descended down the hill, away from where the cabin was. I already knew that the trail going up did not lead to the cabin, so I did not want to waste my time trying to find the right path. I had hoped to find some sign of civilization. If I never found the cabin again, I would be ok. If I lost my belongings, it would not be the first time. I always traveled light for reason. Bedroll, food. A change or two of clothes. A few mementos of my travels. I did miss those belongings right now. I wished I had that granola and water. I also wished I could curl up in that warm down sleeping bag and go back to sleep in the safety of the cabin. My mind wandered as I placed one foot in front of the other, careful not to slip from the trail. That was all I needed, to fall and get hurt out here in the middle of nowhere.

Suddenly I realized that I could hear a sound in the distance. It was the unmistakable sound of rushing water. I must have been close to the river. I strained and looked through a stand of trees. These trees were different than those further up the hillside. I guess because they were close to the water source. The foliage was green and alive and very thick. I had to struggle against the lush foliage to get closer to the sound. Finally, I broke free. There it was. Clear as day. The American River.

the full story is available on Amazon....