It turned dark on us while we walked, but fortunately we were just close enough that with flashlights, we were able to make it out that night. It had been almost 30 hours since our ordeal had begun. It had been three hours since we'd found out that if the helicopter (that had been
dispatched minutes before the ground Search and Rescue found us) had found us first, we would have been fined twenty five thousand dollars. No, you read that right. The fine was $25,000.00. Why? Because you remember me telling you that Marty had purchased a hunting license in the amount of $537.50? Apparently, $2.50 of that is insurance. I did not buy a hunting license because I was not hunting. I should have bought a hiking license for $2.50.
You would think that that would be the end of my story, but you would be wrong. Once we'd arrived back to the comfort of a warm bath and bed, I realized just how beaten up I was. I was physically unable to walk up the stairs to our bedroom so I was forced to "scoot" up and down the stairs for two days. The first thing I did - even before my bath - was throw away my boots. They were damaged beyond repair and had failed me feet. My socks were stained black from the burnt brush. I had cuts and scrapes and bruises. The soreness was what really got me. I required large amounts of anti-inflammatories to make it out of bed over the next two days.
Once my body and I were back on speaking terms, we ventured into town. Our first stop was to purchase a new pair of boots. Our second stop was dinner with the Search and Rescue crew. As we headed to meet them, we got the call that George's truck had a broken axel and was stranded. We went to help and as Marty was assisting in loading the truck onto a trailer, something broke and the weight of the truck came crashing down on his hand. Nothing was broken, but it took months for his finger to fully recover. We finally ate dinner and surprisingly, the meal was uneventful.
On day three after our ordeal, I felt well enough to attempt camping again. We found a spot that looked ok, but more importantly it was safe. We hiked in, pitched our tent and began to hunt. That night as we settled into our uneven tent, we heard a strange yet familiar noise. We looked out and saw several men driving out on four-wheelers. They were so close we could hear their conversations. They never saw us, but Marty knew that this spot wasn't all that we thought it would be. Discouraged and disappointed, we decided to get some sleep, which we did, until we heard "mooing." We were basically in a cow pasture on a mountain side. Nice.