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[cdt-l] Of trail angels, and devils



Saturday afternoon, wife and kids in NH, me here in Florida bored out of my
skull. No plans made to backpack or camp anywhere nearby.  Maybe later I'll
walk to the beach and build a little squaw fire to ward off the city and
warm my soul, to seek out different times, past and future. Like the night I
spent in Wyoming with a lunatic.

He offered me a ride back to the CDT from Encampment, the proverbial
'wide-spot' in the road, where I had gone for re-supply. I was grateful for
the ride, and didn't mind sharing the bed of his pick-up with his dogs and
chainsaws. Back at Battle Pass he drove me right up to the spring that I had
enquired about, and we were soon filling up water and chitchatting about the
weather, which was getting nastier by  minute... thickly overcast for miles
around,  wet, windy and cold. Then it came, he offered to let me crash
overnight in his trailer, which was closeby. I took a long look back at the
weather, and thought too about how my just-bought bacon and macaroni would
come together so perfectly in a real kitchen, his kitchen...

And so I said yes..(Oh thank you God!) We hopped back in the truck and
headed back down a side-road the quarter mile or so to his trailer. Along
the way he yelled back to me 'hey are you a drinking man?' No, I said, I'm
not very much of a drinker at all. Well that's OK, he said, I'm gonna drink
enough for the both of us. That was my first clue, but as it was raining
sideways at the time, I didn't give it much thought.

Well sure enough he got stinking drunk, just like he said he would. Two
hours after our arrival he was so drunk he couldn't stand up, or smoke.
Picture that if you will...a person has to be really drunk not to be able to
smoke cigarettes! And then it got worse. At some point he decided that it
was unforgivably rude of me not to drink with him...that I was in violation
of his own and the State of Wyoming's code of conduct regarding drinking
when invited to as a guest in someone's home, a code that apparently went
all the way back to Jim Bridger and the Crow Indians. Now, any sane person
would have joined in by knocking a few back long before it got to this
point, but I have never been accused of being a sane person. In fact, I
don't drink at all, ever, for reasons that are entirely personal and that I
won't go into here except to say that I haven't woken up on a floor, or in a
jailhouse,  in almost twenty years. So he was just going to have to keep on
ranting, which he did.   It wasn't until he pulled out his 9mm ruger and
started waving it around to punctuate his tirades that I began to worry.

That was about midnight. I began to stealthily re-assemble my gear. It was
raining hard outside, and I was pissed that I was going to have to spend the
night out in the rain after all. Still, I had to get out.  I had had enough
of 'dueling banjos' for one night.

As luck would have it (there's always a little bit of luck floating around),
he unexpectedly passed out on the couch, his hand still attached to his very
cocked pistol. I waited around until I was sure he was out cold...all of
about twenty four seconds... and then made my exit into the wee-hours of the
Wyoming night, shaken but unscathed.

It was a freaky, twilight-zone of an experience, an act of kindness that
turned ugly. As I look back at it, I wonder how it happened....how I let it
happen to myself, mostly.  My drunken host suggested the mountain itself
might be haunted....it is after all the place of several Indian battles and
massacres.(Battle Mountain)..maybe he's right. Or maybe I was just too wet,
tired, lonely and hungry to think straight.

Caleb E...gone to the beach