When I told everyone that I was going to write this article, the family member intimately involved said that I could not use his name or any identifying statements, due to the fact that many of his friends read this column. After attending a wedding in Maryland, we journeyed to West Virginia for our annual Thanksgiving trip. The weather left a bit to be desired, but they are calling for nine inches of snow there today, so who’s complaining? Thanksgiving day was beautiful, with sun and warm temperatures. It is our tradition that most of us go on a Thanksgiving morning hunt, and then come back to enjoy a meal with the entire family, the equivalent of a Thanksgiving family reunion.
My unnamed relative, his eight-year old nephew and I set out as dawn was breaking. It was a very cold morning, about 19 degrees, so the frost was thick. We went in two different directions, with the plan of everyone being back in time for the meal at 1:30. Off we went, communications in hand. While on the top of the mountain, my unnamed relative ran into my wife’s cousin, moments after he had shot at a deer. They decided to track the animal, which led them on a journey to the other side of the mountain. Once they had come to the end of the proverbial tracking trail, my unnamed relative decided to go to the main road on the side of the mountain that they were on, while my wife’s cousin had to go back over the top, since he had lost his video camera and that was where his four-wheeler was located. The problem was that my unnamed relative gave up his two-way radio, thinking that he would have cell service when he reached the main road.
Fortunately, my unnamed relative had called the camp when he did have cell service to tell everyone what he intended to do. I got back, and we heard the story. Knowing parts of the story, we decided to call on the radio. My wife’s cousin answered and we immediately thought all was well, until we found out that they had separated. We now knew that our unnamed relative and his eight-year old nephew were in a place that none of us had journeyed to before. We left for Rt. 92, with no success on our first trip. When we got back to camp, Thanksgiving dinner had commenced, but we did not want to waste daylight. We picked up my wife’s cousin, and returned to Rt. 92. It is amazing what you can find when you are not looking for it. We found a golf course in the middle of nowhere.
Our journey would take us to a general store that was closed, but had a payphone. We scrounged together the fifty cents to make a call, and called the camp. They had received a call from a farmer where the two showed up at. Once my wife began to describe the place, we knew exactly where they were. We went there and there they were. The kind farmer had offered them something to eat and drink, but they graciously declined. We picked them up and then got the rest of the story. The terrain on the other side of the mountain was treacherous. From rock cliffs to heavy briars, the journey was difficult. My unnamed relative stated that they thought about going back over the top three different times, but ran into impassable thickets each time. They had to crawl under briars, and slide on their rear-ends from time to time.
My unnamed relative stuck to his plan, made his nephew stay hydrated and got both of them down the mountain safely. I think that that is probably the last time that my unnamed relative or any of us will journey that way. It was an adventure for the eight-year old, but one that my unnamed relative was glad had ended. Another memory added to the camp memory book that had a happy ending. We ate a reheated Thanksgiving meal, which was fine since everyone was present and accounted for.