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Monday, July 2, 2007

I got lost in the woods... really lost... called 911 and every thing. I have new HEROs... REAL HEROS!

[My Story]

We went to my cousin Erin and Jason's Hoo-Ha (Wedding Party) way out in a kind of remote campground area. Very nice camp site with a near by frog pond, brooks, lots of walking trails around in the deep Forest. Just before we were about to leave, I wanted to go see the frog pond, and struck out by myself (first mistake) on one of the trails that I thought would take me to it. As I walked there were many trails that went off in many directions and I chose one and continued... kind of up-hill. After a while the trails got harder to walk, and there were lots of little brooks to cross and steep banks to climb. I'd probably been walking about 10 minutes.

[Mean while... back at camp]
About half of the people who came to the party had left except Mom and Dad, Grampa and Grammy, Aunt Amy, Owen, Erin and Jason, Todd and Kelli, Uncle Dan and Aunt Laurie and Daniel, Dave and Katie, Amy's doctor friend Wendy, and her husband Peter.

Mom and Dad were picking up to leave and hollered for me to join them. 10 minutes had past since they last saw me picking up the porta-potty game with cousin Dave. As I explained above though... I had been walking up a trail for the last 10 minutes... I couldn't hear Mom and Dad calling me.

"JAIME"... "Is Jaime over with Grammy and Grampa in their car?"... "Did she go and get in the van to go?"... "Maybe she's in the bathroom? Will someone check it?... "Did she get into Laurie and Dan's truck to ride home with them?"... "DID SHE GO DOWN TO THE POND BY HER SELF?!!!"

Jason and Mom head to the pond (Jason, eventually on a dead run). Grammy and Grampa start walking the trails around the camp site. Erin and her pup Happy, head up other trails, while Wendy and Peter, Dad, Todd Kelli, Dave, Katie, Aunt Laurie and Uncle Dan all spread out in other directions looking for me. Aunt Amy stays at the camp site with Daniel in case I come back there (good thinking). "She couldn't have gone far... It's only been 10 minutes! They all search the cars and trails near the camp site, calling for me for about 10 minutes. Now, I'm 20 minutes up my trail.

[Back to me on MY trail]
Now 20 minutes have passed and I've been walking up my trail for all this time. Still haven't found that frog pond. I was kind of confused as to which way to go, or which way I'd come from. I couldn't hear anything except the sound of the woods, and the brooks. Getting kind of nervous. Trails are getting smaller and seems like it's getting steeper and harder to walk. Lots of little brooks with narrow boards as bridges to cross. Lots of big trees that have fallen down across these little brooks and over the trail. You kind of have to duck under some of them or climb over them. The Trail is kind of a trail, but more like a small path now. "I wonder if I should keep going on to the frog pond?". "Maybe I should go back, but which way is REALLY back?" NERVOUS! Gettin' kind of SCARED. ALONE! I've been out here walkin' now for about 45 minutes or so. I keep walking (second mistake) up this little-bitty trail even though I think I might be lost.

[Back at the campsite]
Controlled PANIC! It's been 50 minutes or so since anyone saw me... They have all searched around the pond (numerous different people at numerous different times)... Criss-crossed all the surrounding trails hollering for me. Some have gone to nearby houses to ask about me ("could someone have invited her into there home?" "If she IS in someones home... is that 'Someone' good or bad?!"). One couple who lives near the campground join the search. Dave is walking down the middle of brooks, Dad has gone down the entrance road 100 yards to cut through the deep woods, hoping to get ahead of me if I've gone that way. Grampa is walking in brooks on slippery rocks and climbing steep hills in the woods hollering for me. Grammy is hiking trails and hollering for me. Kelli has swapped out her flip flops for tennis shoes and is whipping around trails looking for me. Erin started running trails in flip-flops but took them off because they were slowing her down... now she's running bare-foot. Todd has set off way up-hill from where Dad went into the woods so they could meet up at the pond---this would cover a large searched "grid". People are passing each other in opposite directions on trails and hollering for me. Hearts are fluttering. Adrenalin is starting to pump big-time. "Jaime's not one to go on a hike." "Walking bothers her legs and knees." "Has anyone noticed if any strange cars have come and gone?" "Didn't a car come by a few minutes ago?" Dad asks Jason to call uncle Brian to see if he will come back to the camp ground to help. Also asked if he could contact everyone who left the party, just in case I was in one of their cars.

Uncle Brian makes the calls to those who've left, and heads (at high speed) back to the camp ground to help search. Uncle Dan jumps in his truck and heads up the dirt road away from the campground (in case I started walking up the road) and he stops at the first house to check if they have seen me. "Nope". He realizes he has a signal on his cell phone and calls Pastor and they pray. Cousin Owen had started to drive on the access road in the other direction in case I went that way. Amy and a few others who've returned to the camp site after their excursions see that I haven't been found yet.

Dad and Jason also find themselves back at the campsite. Jason asks dad if he should call 911 for search and rescue. Someone says "They won't respond until a persons been gone an hour." Dad says "But this is JAIME!"... Aunt Amy looks at her watch and says "It's been at least an hour!"
Dad tells Jason to call for Search and Rescue. Jason makes the call. They all go back to searching and hollering. Controlled panic. Even the care-taker-man who lives at the campground has joined the search.

[Back to me, and MY trail]
The trail/path is really kind of steep now, but I climb up it anyway... "oops, one of my shoes fell off and rolled back down the steep trail. I'm afraid to go back down and get it." I'll be ok without it. I'll just keep going on up the "trail/path". I hope the frog pond is up here. If not, I'm really lost. And I only have one shoe.

[To Peter and his search]
Peter decides to head up a rugged steep path, and mom is a ways behind him. Peter see's a shoe in the trail and picks it up. He yells back to mom, "What kind of shoes was she wearing?" Mom tells him "black kind of suede shoes with a strap". Peter is holding a black, kind of suede shoe with a strap in his hand... "I'VE FOUND HER SHOE!

[Back to me]
It's hard to hike when you are lost. Especially if you only have on one shoe. I lost my shoe way back at that steep spot in the path. I wonder if... I probably should go back and get it. There are a lot of little trails here where I am now. Which one takes me back down to where my shoe is. I think it's this trail so I start walking along and IN a little brook. Now I've lost my other shoe in the brook. I can't find it... I think it floated down the stream. I'm really getting tired now and I don't have any shoes. I think I'll sit down on the log by the stream and rest a while. This is scary. I'm kind of stressed!

[Back to the searchers]
Word starts coming in that Peter found Jaime's shoe up a certain trail. Erin (barefoot) takes off on a dead run. Todd, Kelly, Dave, Jason, and those who've heard about the shoe head into that part of the trails and Forest. Aunt Laurie heads down to the care-taker-man's house to use the phone. Dad is coming up out of the woods by the pond and they meet. Aunt Laurie is flushed... patting her heart repeatedly, and praying as she walks. She tells Dad... "They found her shoe!" Dad asks "WHERE!!!!". Aunt Laurie tell him that Peter found her shoe on one of the upper trails above the campsite, and many of the searchers had gone up that way to look for her. Dad starts toward the campsite and the area where my shoe was found. Dad's thinking... "How could she lose a shoe and not stop to put it back on???... Unless she was being PULLED or FORCED along, up the trail and couldn't stop to get her shoe!?!?!"... Adrenalin. PANIC almost controlled.

[Erin's search]
With Todd, Dave and others a ways behind her, Erin (barefoot) is busting up the trail/path where the shoe was found. Fallen trees, steep paths, little streams with a single board for a bridge... more paths... some not really paths at all but "kinda-paths". She is yelling for me and I here her. I'm still sitting on my log by the brook with no shoes, and I hear Erin yelling for me. I think I'm probably kind of in trouble... but I KNOW I am SCARED and don't like being lost in the woods and alone. I kind of yell to her... first softly 'cause I think I'm in trouble... but then louder... "ERIN, I'M OVER HERE.... I'M SORRY I GOT LOST... I'M KIND OF STRESSED!"

Erin hears Jaime off to the side of the trail she's on and then hears her again... she heads toward her voice and finds her about 100 yards off-trail sitting on a log by a stream with no shoes. Erin is happy. Jaime is happy. Erin yells that she's found Jaime. Todd, Dave, and others come immediately to her. Jaime is ok... her shoes are "Eh.....not so good". Todd and Dave take turns giving her piggy-back rides, down out of the Forest. (no shoes remember?)

[Back with the other searchers]
Those who've found me start yelling the word down-trail, and soon those searchers below are all told that I've been found. "Thank you GOD!" "THANK YOU ERIN", "Thank you ALL!" Mom, Dad and everyone else came running to see me. I was glad to be found.

[My Conclusion]
I learned something right after I was found and back at the campsite. Everyone told me; "If you get lost in the woods, YOU STAY WHERE YOU ARE AND KEEP YELLING FOR HELP!" The most important thing is to stay right where you are and DO NOT walk around! On the ride home from the party, I was very tired and weak. I prayed to God and thanked him that I was found. I thanked him for all the people who looked for me. I told God I was sorry I got lost and scared ever one.

[A note from Dad]
I love all of you who were there, searching for Jaime in the woods. You are my family... so of course I love you all, but now the love I have for you is a bit different. It's been deepened and made more intimate by fusing love with tremendous gratitude and thankfulness. I didn't know Peter and Wendy or the "care-taker-man", but now I have deep feelings of affection and a closeness to them also. We have all been through something together, that was terribly draining, emotionally and physically. We spent almost two hours together pumping adrenaline with the same goal in mind; "Must find Jaime". As a group, we worked as one... we planed, we thought quickly about search "stradgeties"... we shared the same feelings at the same times... fear, anxiety, controlled panic and eventually panic. For me, this strengthened the bonds I've already had with all of you. Love, gratitude, praise, thankfulness, there are so many words of that sort that express how I feel for you. In searching, you were prayerfull, focused, driven, untiring, relentless, and selfless in the process. I saw lot's of sweat, scrapes and scratches on all of you after we all grouped around Jaime. Todd and Dave will probably be perminantly "hunched" from all the piggy-back riding. Everyone was wet, dirty and tired. Scratches and scrapes on ankles. Erin's poor bare feet. How do we thank people for that kind of help and dedication?

While I was out hiking and stomping through the woods, I felt no pain at all. Adrenaline will do that to you I guess. I'm sure some of you, like me, started to feel the pain as the adrenaline drainined away. Wow... what a workout!

What can Wanda and Jaime and I say or do to thank all of you for searching so hard, and giving so much of yourselves? I don't think a proper, fitting "Thank You" exists that can really say it all but "THANK YOU" anyway. That's a weak attempt to say something that Jaime, Wanda and I feel so deeply. You are all HERO's to Jaime and Wanda and I. Superman's got NOTHING on any of you!

Our HERO'S!!!!!!



Todd and Grammy and GrandpaKelli (left) and Aunt Amy (center)
Katie and Dave

Uncle Dan and Aunt LaurieOwen
Uncle Brian
Happy (though he mostly hopped around)

When I get the other Hero Pictures (Peter and Wendy) I will post them here!!!