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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Taking on the Monsters

It was a cold winter evening, high in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, when Allie and Adrian decided to savor the last bit of the day’s sunlight by driving down a steep, single lane road to the edge of the lake.  This sounds like the beginning of one my bullshit short stories, but alas, my friends, it is not.  This is a true story about a night that my lovely wifey and I barely made it out of alive.

There we were, driving my fairly new car down a narrow path, snaking through a deep forest with a snow bank of at least three feet surrounding us.  We got to the bottom and the sun disappeared over the mountains as we looked over the peaceful tranquility of one of the most beautiful, clear and deep lakes that I have ever been to, Lake Tahoe.

As we look out over the calm glassy water, I am ever vigilant and on the lookout for Tahoe Tessie, the infamous water monster that fearlessly comes ashore to eat its victims if it so much as catches a whiff of them.  I do not mention this to Allie as we are there, so as not to jinx us, but as the cold increases with the dwindling light, I eventually urge her to get in the car so we can get the eff out of there.  Better to be safe than sorry and dead in the belly of a monster.

So we get in the car and blast the heater as we begin to make our climb back to the top.  It is only about a quarter of the way up that I notice that ice has formed on the road in the rapidly freezing temperature.  My car cannot get past the ice, and we slip to no end.  It is at this time that I realize that I was as dumb as I was adventurous on this decision to come down to the lake’s edge in a sporty rear-wheel drive car.  I struggle in numerous attempts to roll the car back and try to climb past the icy patches in the road, to no avail.  It is on my final attempt where my car careens into the snow bank when I decide that we need to go to plan b.  The infamous plan b haunts me to this day.  It is what almost got us killed. 

We can’t get a cellphone signal so deep in the woods.  The light is disappearing so fast that we know we only have minutes, possibly twenty at the most until we will be able to see nothing.  Literally nothing.  There are no lights.  No lamp posts, no stars under the forest canopy, and no moonlight.  We know our only chance is to walk up the hill and hope that we get enough phone signal on the main road to call for help.  Our friends are in the cabin only five or ten miles away –where we should be.

We begin our trek, walking quickly.  We have a long way to go.  It is getting so much colder than when the sun had been out.  Fear is setting in.  The road twists and winds like none that I’d seen before, and before we know it, my car is way out of sight.  I feel terrible leaving it behind, alone and stranded in the middle of a forest, but we had no choice.  She failed us.  She is great on the paved roads, but lousy on the dirt, and in this case, the ice.

My mind races with thoughts on how I will get the car out.  I think about tow trucks, wondering if they will come out at that time of night.  I wonder if my friend Brian, at the cabin, will have any ideas.  Can he tow me out with his minivan?  As my mind looks for solutions, we notice that something is terribly amiss.  We were not alone.

Three large white wolves came upon us suddenly, stopping directly in front of us.  We never saw them coming, and we froze in our tracks, horrified.  Allie came closer to me, and I tell her not to show fear, as I begin speaking forcefully and loudly, in an attempt to frighten the wolves and show no fear.  I ask her if she can see a stick or a rock.  I look too, subtly, but there is nothing as the snow is covering everything.  Seconds that felt like minutes pass, and we are at a face-off with the wild wolves.  I prepare to defend us to the death.  Two of the gigantic beasts, whose curiosity finally subside, decide to move along.

We were nothing to them.  They could have easily devoured us.  I am sure that the third wolf, the closest one to us, at only five or six feet away, thought about it.  He lingered a few seconds longer, staring at us, before he finally decided to move on too.  In retrospect, I am surprised that they didn’t kill us.  I can remember the lifeless look about their eyes, much like I know a shark’s to be.  I remember feeling that the wolves were living on instinct, and that was the look of their eyes -just stone cold.

As the beasts walked across our path and off into the snow, we walked too, slowly at first, then quickly, and when we knew were at a safe distance, we ran our asses off.  By the time we made it to the top of the hill, it was dark.  Pitch black dark.  Luckily, the road was busy.  We had a cell signal too, but the cops wouldn’t do anything.  They were not impressed by the wolf story.  We ended up finally getting a ride to the nearest store by a friendly passer-by, and Brian eventually came to pick us up.  We made it.

I think back about the wolves we saw.  They were huge, much bigger than I would have thought them to be.  I had previously imagined them to be something like a large German Sheppard, perhaps, but they were much bigger than that, both in height and in girth.  They would make a German Sheppard look like a Chihuahua.  The chances were slim that we would come across them like that in the wild, but this story goes to show that this kind of shit actually happens.  Why couldn’t we win the lottery?  Is that not just as rare?

Anyways, that is our wolf story.  I will dig up some pictures that we took of the area the next day, and post them, which reminds me of something that Allie will never let me live down.  There was a sign that said the road was closed.  Of course, the sign was blocked by the huge snow bank, so I never saw it until later.  In my defense, the road was gated and the gate was open.  So why would I think it was closed?  It’s easy to laugh about it now, but that was some real scary shit at the time.

Edit:  I went back and found some pictures of the location.

The "closed road" (pfff!)

Closed Road sign (shit!)

Pic taken at the bottom of the hill that night

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