The Promise

Photo: Pete Schreiner @schreinertrailphotography

The following excerpt appears in Hard Prairie Volume 2, available now! To purchase your copy, please click the link on our homepage!

Waking from a nap, Michael shivered miserably, soggy from the moisture that had gathered in his bivy. Hardly able to control his trembling, he moved up the mountain toward Kelly’s Knob. “I just started thinking about everything,” Michael says. “One thing after another.” He thought about mistakes he’d made early in life and how far he’d come since. He thought about his parents and how it might be time to forgive his father’s transgressions. He thought about his daughter and wife, the beginning and end of all this, whatever this ended up being. And he thought about people wrestling with dark thoughts, and those who were lonely. “I cried a lot during those miles,” he says. “It was rough.” 

Moving up Angel’s Rest a few days later, the temperature dropped, and rain began to fall. Michael crawled between some rocks to wait out the storm. “I should have just stayed there and slept,” he says. “If I had just stayed there and slept for two or three hours, none of this would have happened. But for some reason, in my mind, I felt I had to keep going.” 

Looking at the weather tracker on his phone, Michael saw a big red blob moving his way. Not wanting to remain on the ridge, he moved down the mountain. “I was walking, getting soaked. It was maybe thirty-eight degrees. I was freezing.” Knowing he was in danger of hypothermia, Michael called his crew and arranged to meet at a shelter. Once there, however, he didn’t stay long. “There was just no way for me to get warm,” Michael says. “If I had stayed at that shelter much longer, not moving, I’d have frozen. Then they’d have had to pull me out of there. So I chose to keep running.” 

Words: Chad Sullivan

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