As you probably already know, John and I had a pretty amazing adventure/nightmare last week. Our friend that feels like family, Jerry Thomas went missing a week ago last Wednesday while picking huckleberries with a friend. He was camping up by Parish Lake on the west side of the top of the Cascade Mountains in Linn County.
For the next three days there were search and rescue teams from 10 counties, sheriff's department officials, a heat-seeking helicopter from the Oregon National Guard, horses, Linn County Posse, scent dogs and their handlers, ATV teams, and the best tracker in the United States, combing the area and searching daylight hours.
Every day we would get up and rendevoux with team leaders and they would depart on their duties. Most of these people were volunteers, trained in search and rescue techniques. There was also a wonderful chaplain, again a volunteer, attached to the Linn County sherrif's office.
The forest is not like on our eastern side of the mountains, but thick, brushy and filled with old growth timber and lots of fallen logs. It made for very difficult searching.
Jerry and Mary were camping for a few days with friends Don & Linda Wright, and Don and Jerry were huckleberry picking when Jerry wandered off in search of the best berries. It wouldn't and didn't take long to get turned around in the heavy terrain of the area. This is a photo of the Wrights trailer and ours, with the insurance man, Linda Wright, Mary and her sister Judy. The first 2 days the forest service would not let us search on foot, but only in vehicles on all the roads and logging spurs we could find. On Friday most of our gang decided they had enough of that, and set off on foot searching. (They were careful to stay together).
Saturday morning, after 3 days and 3 nights in the forest, Jerry walked out here. He had slept by or under logs, had collected thunder storm water in his hat, and eaten berries that he had or found. He is one tough cookie! When he woke up that day he just knew he would find a road, and he did...a logging spur. He walked it down here to a trail head at Daly Lake.
Looks pretty peaceful doesn't it? But it wasn't peaceful for all of us looking and searching for him. He found a guy with his camper there and Jerry asked him to take him to his campsite.
What a stir it made when they pulled up together in the midst of about 100 searchers! The guy driving said he felt like he set foot in the middle of a hornets nest. Jerry just kind of looked around and wondered why all the people were out there in the middle of the forest.
When I took this photo he looked up and said don't take it, I haven't combed my hair!! We all had a very tearful, joyous, riotous reunion.
Later he sat and told us about his adventure. He refused the ambulance and no one saw a need for it. He was not injured in any way, not even any scratches. His glasses were broken, his hearing aids dead as well as his cell phone, but he is the old time kind of rancher, hunter, cowboy who knows how to survive in the forest. And he has a great protector in his Heavenly Father.
Here are some of the friends and family that were there to welcome Jerry back and celebrate together this walking miracle.
I have never been so glad to see anyone in my life! Even a little thinner, a little weaker, and a little grayer. So glad he's home.