I was talking with a friend this evening, and it made me realize that there are so many details about our search that I haven’t shared.
So I thought I would try to do a bit more of that… I always knew Steve was persistent (some would call it “stubborn Irish”!). But I think that this last trek of his life is the ultimate example of this tenacious, determined quality I admire so much.
As best we can tell from the clues that Jim and our tracking team have examined, this is what happened: after he fell three or four stories down from the granite cliff at Billy’s Peak, his momentum was such that he slid for another 15 feet.
Clearly injured, he had to sit on a rock a few feet from where his slide stopped. Then he lay down for awhile under a manzanita bush (after clearing out some of the brush that would have been scratching at his back and placing it in a neat stack).
Then he began carefully working his way down this most challenging terrain, trying to make it the mile and a half to the town below. 100 feet. 200 feet. (This is about as far as we thought he would get…).
He stopped to rest again– making another neat stack (this one of wildflowers). 1000 feet.
All along, he was taking a pretty cautious route–not his usual efficient, more fast-paced gait–stepping around rocks instead of over them, walking around bushes instead of moving right through them. He seemed to be trying hard to avoid slipping or jarring his tender body.
2000 feet. Who would imagine that someone who had just fallen that far could keep moving? But Steve was definitely not a quitter. Overcoming an unusually heavy load of challenges as a child. Maintaining and growing a (sorely tested) life of faith. First child in his family of five kids to go to graduate school. Years of patient work alongside his clients as they moved through their own painful journeys.
3000 feet….maybe farther. In beautiful, remote, rugged terrain. This is as far as our trackers were able to make it when they ran out of time, food, and stamina on our last trip. And we still don’t know how far down that mountain he got. All we know is that the mountain eventually won.
So that’s my husband. Continuing on, hopeful that he could hike down that rugged slope to get medical care and reunite with friends and family…
Persistent. Determined. Courageous. I love that man.