made by Leeloumade by Leeloumade by Leeloumade by Leeloumade by Leelou

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The super exciting Lost in La Pine story! At last!

I've procrastinated enough on writing the "lost in La Pine" story. No more procrastination! See? Look at me go on my new years resolutions! It's the 11th, and I'm doing better already. Just don't ask about everything else that's needed to be done, or my other resolutions. It's a process. I'm sure you understand. I have a bit of a break between clients at work, so I figured I'd use my time productively instead of zoning out and watching another episode of Weeds on netflix.

On that note, I'm about a quarter of the way into the 5th season. I started watching it because I have a serious addiction to plowing through tv series' in their entirety. Instead of waiting every week (let alone the break between seasons!), I get to immerse completely into this other world and get instant gratification on "what happens next?! Next week? I can't wait till next week!". Even if I'm anti-drug, the characters are fun and likable (or hateable, in that "love to hate" sort of way) and the writing is witty and well thought-out. Now that I'm on season 5, I find it's giving me that icky "this isn't fun anymore" feeling. Don't get me wrong, it's still an amazing show. It's just that Nancy and some of the other characters have gotten in so far over their heads that there's no way out. Nancy's gradual spiral into losing total control over her life makes me sad. Little by little, she compromises her moral standpoints until she degrades into someone I wouldn't want to know in real life. It's like when you realize that a dear friend has headed down a path you can't (or won't) follow for whatever reason, and that icky feeling that comes over you when you finally accept that you have to let that person go. Well, I'm not willing to let this show go, because I have every faith that Nancy will pull herself up by her bootstraps and take control of her life again and smack her kids back into order. That's also sad. Especially her youngest son. He was such a sweet (but strange) kid, and to see what he's turning into is just terrible. ANYWAY. Talk about procrastinating! Enough about Weeds. On with La Pine.

Isn't that ironic? My client just showed up early! Just as I was about to dive into writing about La Pine. Fear not, dear reader (there's at least one of you, right?) I SWEAR I will continue when I get home. Pinky swear.

Okey dokey. Where were we? Oh yes. La Pine. A hobby-sport I participate in is urban mushing. I have two huskies who are.....well...not the most focused or athletic dogs. But they have fun and get exercise, and it's a bonding experience for me and my fur-kids. In November, our "group" from southern california was invited to come up to La Pine, Oregon for a mushing weekend in the national forest. I haven't been able to go in the past, and this time there was no way in hell I was going to miss it. ESPECIALLY since I was going to be staying with my friend Chris and her husband and daughter in Bend. Chris is one of my favorite people EVAR, and is a professional positive reinforcement dog trainer and fellow musher. She's been a wealth of information about training, and I looked forward to the chance to stay with her and pick up some more pointers for dealing with my dogs' "personality quirks". She writes a fantastically educational and entertaining blog The Dexter Diaries . Bend isn't far at all from La Pine national forest, so the plan was to stay with Chris and drive to the forest to go mushing every day. It worked out perfectly. UNTIL.......



Saturday. Friday had been awesome and totally inspiring. Friday morning I rode on the back of an ATV with Liz Parrish, who is a tiny yet strong-as-an-ox woman who ran the Iditarod as a 50th birthday present to herself. She ran a 14 dog team who followed her every command beautifully. Witness the short video.

I loaned Rowan out to a friend who ran with their team, and apparently did very well. Loki had to stay behind though, tied out to the back of my car. Don't call the ASPCA just yet, there were lots of people around (friends) and he was just fine. Well, aside from the scratches all over my poor Element from when he freaked out when I left with Liz. See: personality quirks. My bubbas has codependency issues and loves his mama very much. We'll leave it at that. Later that evening, a small group of us decided to take our dogs out for a sunset run. Our wonderful group leader, Barb, used it as a training opportunity for me and mine to practice "on-by". For you non-mushing types, "on by" is a command for your dogs to ignore whatever they're coming up on, or whatever is coming up on them and just keep going. Loki especially is terrible at this because he's a bit insecure and doesn't like to be snuck up on. He also pays a leeeeettle bit too much attention to other dogs, and that gets troublesome. Anyway. They did great, it was awesome, totally revived my love of the sport and my faith in the community of mushers.

We had a potluck on saturday, with fantastic food and great company. Since we had such a great evening run the previous evening, we decided to do it again. I probably should have passed on that one, because my dogs had a decent run that morning and they're not as physically conditioned as the other mushers' teams. But behold! The power of wine and camaraderie! One glass of wine, people. Give me a little credit. We started out okay, keeping up with the other teams, although both Loki and Rowan were very distracted by every little thing we came across. Oh look! Pine needles! Oh look! Snow! What's that? A bush? oooohhh interesting.... I persevered because both Barb and Liz (who co-teach mushing clinics and workshops) assured me that they were just stalling, and they had it in them. It was just a matter of mental focus and training. They're right, I'm sure, but that's a bit difficult when it's just the two dog team and myself, trying to keep up with everybody else. So when we pulled up to a curve and stopped to make sure everybody was caught up and doing okay (there were maybe.....I dunno....5, 6 people?), I was ready to pack it in. Keeping them focused an on-task was challenging, and I thought they were still worn out from the previous day and that morning.

Barb: "Everybody here? Everyone okay? Bonnie? Your dogs okay?"

Me: *shrugs* Not really, they're kinda done. I think they're tired."

Barb: " Okay, well if you want to turn around and start heading back, we're just going to loop around up here and we'll catch up to you in just a few minutes."
Me: "Alrighty!"


Let me pause for a second here. It's a long running joke that I have no sense of direction. I'm not exaggerating. My best friend once kept me on the phone while we were driving for 20 minutes (we were driving from the same place, just keeping each other company on the phone) before telling me "Uh, DO know you're heading the wrong direction, right?" When I asked her "why in the hell didn't you tell me?!" she said (laughing her ass off) "I wanted to see how long it would take you to notice!"

See? No sense of direction. At all. I'll blame it on the Turner's Syndrome (poor spatial recognition, blah blah blah, very common in Turner's girls). We'll go with that.

back to the story

I got the dogs turned around and headed back the way we came. It was pretty much a straight shot back to our base camp starting point, so I paid more attention to training my dogs than the surroundings. At one point, I looked forward down the loooooooong trail, patches of snow and trees on either side, and thought "this isn't right.....that trail is way too long." I stopped the dogs, thought about what to do for a moment, then continued on the way I was headed. That's when the thought occurred to me "they should have caught up to me by now. They all had bigger teams and faster dogs, where the hell are they?" So I turned around. After a while, I came to a trail that turned off to my left. Did we come from this way? I see dog and ATV tracks, but those could be from this morning. They don't look terribly fresh. Oh well, what do I have to lose? We took a "haw" (that's left, for all you non-mushers..look at me with the lingo! You'd think I was all professional or something! not) but it soon became very apparent that trail didn't look familiar either. Crap. One happy thought I had at the moment though, as I was intensely surveying my surroundings, was that my dogs were doing great. Plodding steadily onward, not getting distracted, they were truly on task. That's fantastic, because it freed me up to worry about bigger things. Like spending the night in a huge national forest in Oregon, and getting eaten by bears and raccoons. As soon as I realized this wasn't the right trail either, I turned around to go back to the trail intersection I started at.

All the while, the sun was going down. Luckily, my friend Henning had let me borrow his head lamp, so I at least had a bit of light. Lemme tell ya, darkness in the forest in the middle of nowhere is NO JOKE. It was also cloudy, so no moon. Back at the intersection, I started to truly worry. I'd kept my cool until that point, besides mumbling and cursing out loud to myself about what an f*'n idiot I was, I should have known better. I was starting to let go of the idea that I could retain any dignity and claim I had just taken a detour to keep training my dogs. Riiiiiiight. That was the hardest part. Accepting that I had really fucked up and needed to be rescued, and all the heckling that would come with it forevermore. Of COURSE Bonnie got lost. She's Bridget Jones, remember? I may not have any dignity left, but it doesn't mean I always enjoy the taste of humble pie. Sometimes I wish I wasn't such a walking parody of myself.

There I stood, alternating between bending over in frustration yelling "fuck! Godfuckingdammit!!" and yelling at the top of my lungs "HELLLOOOOOO!!!!!" then listening for anything at all. Nothing. Just the wind in the trees. It actually got kind of pathetic. "HELLLOOOOOOOOOooanybody....." with the "anybody" getting kind of sad and warbly sounding. Take a second and ask yourself if you've ever been in a situation where you were able to yell as LOUD AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN. I mean, no-holds-barred, top of your lungs, give it more volume, yell. It was the first time in my life I could yell like that. People say primal screaming is therapeutic, but I don't know about that. It seemed to break down a floodgate, and the tears started. I'm an anger/frustration crier. Sadness? Nope. Happiness? Nope. Pure frustration and anger? Yep. Floodworks. Loki was sprawled upside down in the snow, but Rowan was looking at me as if she knew something was wrong. I bent down to snuggle her, and reassure her we'd be alright, and she tried to crawl into my lap. This is NOT typical Rowan behavior.

AT&T sucks, but at least I had one tiny little bar of service. Isn't that something? I don't get a good signal in my own house, but I get a bar in the middle of a forest? To quote Cee-Lo Green, "ain't that some shit"? I tried to call Barb, and may or may not have left a slightly tearful message about being lost, please come find me. I didn't have anybody else's number, so I was kind of up shit creek. My boyfriend and I were sort problems at that time, so I was reluctant to call him. I did though, and had to leave a voicemail. Definitely tearful and full of "I'm lost, and I'm scared and I don't know where I am!!". No callback. Text message *I'm lost and scared*. Instant call.

Brandon (ever the Marine): "Calm down, you're okay..."
Me: "I know, I'm alright. Just a fucking dumb ass!!"
Brandon: "Just stay put. Don't go anywhere."
Me: "Of course I'm not going anywhere!! I'll get just my dumb self more lost!"
Brandon: "Okay. Let's work this out. Which direction did the sun go down?"
Brandon: "Okay! Okay! Hmmm...let me think. Any landmarks you passed and recognize? Anything like that?"
Me: "TREES! FUCKING TREES! IT'S A GODDAMN NATIONAL FOREST!! IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME, OKAY? (really, I'm not normally such a potty mouth)
Brandon: "Alright, calm down. What road did you come in on?"
Me: "There ARE no road names. It's a national forest."
Brandon: "What about closer to camp? What's that road called?"
Me: "There. Are. No. Road. Names."
Brandon: *tortured sigh* "Ooookay."
Me: "There's no way to know where I am, sweetie. I'm just kind of scared and wanted to talk to you."
Brandon: *typing on his computer* "I'm trying to bring up a map of La Pine"
Me: "Hang on...I'm going to yell again. HEELLLLOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! *listens* nothing."

This goes on for a while, yelling, listening, Brandon trying to be helpful. Finally, I heard the rumble of an ATV, followed by lights through the trees.

Me: "I hear an ATV! There's lights! GottagoI'llcallyouinabitbye!"

Saved! I was saved! We weren't going to be eaten by rabid raccoons after all!

The ATV pulled to a stop, and the guy (who I didn't recognize) said "Are you Bonnie?"
No, I'm the other lost musher. I said "Yes! Thank goodness you found me!"
He said there were a lot of people out looking for me, which made me feel even dumber. Honestly, I thought he was forest service or something, but he was a fellow musher I hadn't met before. His name is Bino (short for Bambino, a family nickname), and he's the nicest man ever. He asked if I was alright, and I told him I felt more stupid than anything else. I'll never forget what he said.

"No, sweetie. Don't feel stupid at all. These trails are super technical, and super confusing. Especially in the winter, everything all looks the same. I've been mushing these trails for a LOT of years, and even I still get lost once in a while. Don't feel stupid AT ALL."

My response: "Yeah, but it HAD to be me. You don't understand. I'll never live this down!"

New musher friend Chuck pulled up just seconds after Bino in his ATV also. They asked if my dogs would make it back, and I really didn't think so. I wish I'd gotten pictures of how the setup went. Scooter maneuvered onto the back of Chuck's ATV, Rowan sprawled in a very undignified way across Chuck's lap. Loki is much, much bigger. Bino stood to the side of his ATV, driving, and I sat side-saddle on the other side, Loki sprawled across me, the seat, and probably some of Bino.

Well, all's well that ends in wine, and it totally did. Nobody heckled me, just hugs and "I'm so glad we found you!". We all headed back to the common cabin, and I think it was Thomas who promptly poured me some wine. When I got back to Chris's house, there was more wine, hugs, then bed. I felt terrible that they had called Chris and her husband, they must have been so worried!

Seriously, though. It's a fun story, but it wasn't as dramatic as all that. The absolute worst case scenario would have been to snuggle up with my dogs under a tree (temperatures weren't all THAT cold. I wouldn't have died. Unless a bear got us.) and wait till morning when the trails would be crawling with lots of mushers. Just embarrassing. Very, very embarrassing.

So there you have it! That's the super anti-climactic story of how I got lost in La Pine national forest for a whole two hours! I can think of a million funny little things to add to this, but I'd be surprised if you read this far. Go ahead and laugh, it's okay. I have no pride left anyway. *wink*


  1. I couldn't imagine being in that situation. I would have been an inconsolable wreck. I don't do well away from home no matter where it is, anxiety always sets in and I don't think I would have made it back sane. (I also can't believe I read that entire post...jk) I'm glad you had some reception though.. whether or not your voicemail to Barb or convo with Brandon actually helped in you being rescued ;) at least you weren't "alone". Glad you made it back safe!

  2. It may not have actually helped me to get rescued, but it sure gave me something else to focus on other than just waiting. I was just so mad at myself! I should have known better! I KNOW I have no sense of direction, and I should NEVER have split off from the group. On the bright side, it wasn't like I was hiking in the wilderness all alone, with nobody knowing where I was. There were lots of people who noticed I wasn't back yet, and it was only a matter of time before they found me. Just sat my happy ass down and waited. Being very embarrassed.

  3. Hi Bonnie. This is Willie I was with Barbra in La Pine. I didn't know you were lost until you guys got back to camp. I helped people get dogs hooked up for that run then I walked back to camp. I had not heard the whole story. I am glad you were ok and found.

  4. Hello Bonnie. I think that you handled things very well. I can't even imagine what it must have been like, but do know that I worry about getting lost in the forest. We go hiking quite a bit, in the summer, but it the winter, as Bino said, things all look the same. Don't give yourself too hard a time. You kept your head and did exactly what you were supposed to do. Obviously, Rowan knew you needed some comfort too. ;) Loved your story. thank you for sharing it.


Talk to me!