By Bob Spiwak
It was sometime in the mid-1980s, during hunting season. Darkness was upon us, along with a heavy rain. There was a knock on the door and I pulled the curtain aside to see a man and a dog. Both were dripping wet. The man, who we’ll refer to as Victim, asked if anyone had stopped by looking for him. He had a rifle in his hand, my first clue that he had been hunting. I asked him why someone would be looking for him at our house. My tone was suspicious. He replied that he had been hunting behind “that mountain,” pointing at Grizzly looming behind us.
The arrangement that had been made among him and his two or three companions was that if they got separated, they were to rendezvous at the driveway across the road from us, which they had passed en route to their hunting area. Victim said he had been standing at that place for a long time and there was no sign of his buddies.
I asked him where he had gotten separated and when, and he replied it was during daylight and he had been somewhere behind the mountain.
Behind the mountain is a flat bench that in those days had a large berm across an old logging road. Did his friends go up that logging road? He did not know. Well, how did you get down here? I asked. His answer was stunning: He had come down the face of Grizzly onto our place.
I asked if he actually came down in the dark, and he said it was light when he realized he was lost, and his friend had told him the driveway where they would meet was “on the other side of the mountain.” That route from where I guess they had been hunting is at least 300 feet up the sheer, gnarly face of the hill. He had slid several times, and suffered scratches.
I told him I could not help, and said he had better get out and wait for his buddies because sooner or later they would probably show. I asked him where they were staying, and he did not know anything other than that it was in a friend’s house “on the road out of Winthrop.” That turned out to be West Chewuch Road. Anyhow, he and his black Lab turned to go back across the road.
I felt sorry for them both and told him I would take man and dog to an area he might recognize. He said he would know the driveway where they were staying. The dog got in the back of the car, and Victim and his rifle got into the front seat. I asked him if the gun was loaded and he said it was not. I told him I wanted to be certain and he gave me the bolt-action rifle. Pointing upward out the window I pulled back the bolt and “twang!” — out came a live shell. I emptied the magazine, handed him the gun and we were off.
We turned up the West Chewuch hill past the U.S. Forest Service office and slowly proceeded northward. None of the few driveways we passed looked familiar when I slowed the car to examine them. Onward we went. He was certain it was on the right side of the road and he thought maybe he’d spot it. The house was up a steep hill, he remembered, which pretty much indicated it was on the left — it’s all downhill to the river on the right.
We never found a road that he could identify. It was now getting late and I wanted to abandon the search. I told him I would take him back to town where he could get a motel, or check in with the cops. Surely his friends were worried about him.
The rain must have abated by then because he opted to get out of the car and with his dog wait for his companions to come by. He thanked me and with his dog melted into the darkness as I turned around.
Did he ever return? No he never returned. And his fate is till unlearned.