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Lost and Found

on March 11, 2012

The summer before Casey and I got married, we took a “backpacking road trip” through the Northern Rockies as part of our honeymoon.  Basically, we drove to a wilderness area, went on a 4-5 day backpacking trip, and then drove to another wilderness area, and so on and so on.  One of these areas was Hells Canyon in Idaho.  The first two days of our trip we hiked in warm sunshine, but on our 3rd morning we awoke to thick clouds enveloping our camp.  We made a warm breakfast, broke down camp, and were on our way.

Soon, it started to drizzle.  We kept walking.  Thunder rumbled in the distance.  We kept walking, only faster.  It started to hail.  We kept walking.  It started to snow.  We kept walking.  Finally, with wet gloves and frozen fingers, we made the decision to stop.  We had made it off the exposed hillside and into a flatter valley.  We ran into the trees and set up our tent.  We shed our rain gear and dove in our sleeping bags.  After we stopped shivering, we both drifted to sleep.

We woke up about 1pm to sunshine pouring through the “windows.”  When we emerged from our tent, the ground was white but the clouds had completely cleared.    After hanging everything to dry, we continued on our way.  With this turn of events, we figured we could still easily make our intended camp.

However, as we hiked, Casey began reconsidering our route, something he does often.  By the time he mentioned it to me, he had a full blown plan – let’s skip the detour to the lake and hike all the way back to the car tonight so we can celebrate with M&Ms and beer.  What??!!!  He was essentially suggesting combining two days’ worth of hiking into one!  No way!  But somehow, he eventually convinced me to give it a try.  I had found a few possible camps along the way and made him promise that if I wanted to stop he would.  Several hours and one breakdown later, we climbed the last hill and made it to the parking lot.  Exuberant joy poured out of us.  We high fived, took pictures, and relished in our perfect timing, arriving at 10pm, right as the last bit of light left the sky.

And then, I unzipped my zipper pocket to retrieve the car key.  And it wasn’t there.  No amount of fishing was going to pull it out; all I found was a hole.  The exuberance instantly evaporated and was replaced by an unmistakable “We are fucked” feeling.  The trailhead was 20 miles from the nearest paved road, and although there was a town there, it consisted of a few rafting outfitters and not much else.  We hatched plans to try and solve the problem, but it was clear that nothing could be done until morning.  So, with cold beer just out of reach, we set up our tent and started preparing our dehydrated meal.  Halfway through, we ran out of gas so to go with our misery, we ate a semi-warm, semi-crunchy mix of meat, veggies, and rice.  Casey was doing a good job trying to be nice, not blaming me for losing the key, but I knew it was my fault.  I felt awful, terrible, horrible… I cannot find a bad enough word.  Before going to bed, I went to the bathroom.

Casey was walking towards me when I came out.  “Do you have a lighter?” he asked.  I thought he was accusing me of losing that too so I started to argue, but he interrupted, “Cuz I’m going to need one to open these beers!” Suddenly, he produced two bottles from behind his back, grinning from ear to ear.

I stood in a state of confusion for a moment.  Where…how… “Holy Crap You Opened The Car!!!!”  But I still didn’t quite understand.  I stood there shaking as he explained.  He had been walking around the parking lot thinking that the key had probably fallen out pretty quickly and was either in the parking lot or beginning of the loop.  Then he started thinking what he would do if he found a key nearby.  Our key had big Honda H on it, and there couldn’t be more than one or two Hondas in the parking lot.  He thought that if he had found it, he probably would have tried the key in each Honda and then left it on the dash of the car it fit.  So, he did what had never crossed our minds – he looked on the dash.  And sure enough, he found the key tucked under the wiper blade.  Total relief flooded over me as I began to understand that this was real.  We drank our beers in the tent and celebrated, knowing we would be able to continue our adventure the next day.  We will never be able to thank whoever found and returned our key, but we are forever grateful.

I tell this story today because I was again reminded of what a loser I am.  Not a loser like the capital L on a pre-teen’s forehead, but quite literally a person who loses things.  A lot of things.  Cell phones, wallets, keys, jackets, shoes, cameras… and the ring I got for my 18th birthday, which I got to design using sapphires from my deceased grandmother’s bracelet.  Yep, that’s the kind of person I am.  For the most part, I am at peace with losing things.  It’s just a part of who I am, and I accept it.  I even think it’s pretty funny most of the time.  But there are certain times, like when I lose a key in the middle of nowhere or when I lose my very special ring, that I just plain hate it.  But, I lost the ring back in college and don’t think about it much anymore, so it wasn’t really bothering me  this morning when my mom called.  My parents have been going through boxes of my old things lately, calling me often to find out what is okay to give/throw away.  This morning, in one of these boxes was my old jewelry box and in it was my ring with my grandmother’s stones.  Found.  (I know!  Why would I ever have thought to look for it in my jewelry box?) 

Losing things sometimes stinks, but finding them again is so much fun!

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4 responses to “Lost and Found

  1. sarah says:

    Losing things always make for a good adventure!

  2. Meredith says:

    Wow – I was reading this story so fast I had to go back and start over – it was written with a lot of anticipation and I was rushing because the story was written with a great “pace” to it – it was engaging and fun to read – thanks!

  3. Natalie says:

    Awesome! What a great read! I was so not expecting the ending.

  4. Anita says:

    I love the building of the anticipation and the “what next” feeling.

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