Thursday, February 22, 2007

February 22nd, 2007: Semi-True Stories

Sometime around 1991, several friends went camping out in the woods of Pennsylvania. Early one afternoon, seven of the friends hiked to a waterfall, following a trail marked by blue spots, painted onto trees along the path. After an hour or so at the waterfall, rain clouds began to roll in and the hikers decided they had better return to the campground.

While following the blue trail back to the campground, Joe fell to the rear of the group to join Webmaster John and observe a porcupine climbing a tree. The hike continued. Twenty minutes or so later, everyone came to a dead stop.

The question "Where do we go now?" was posed to Joe who replied, "Keep following the blue trail."

"What blue trail?" was the reply from the person in the lead.

Joe resisted the urge to throttle said hike leader and instead pointed through the woods towards a clearing in the distance. Although the hikers had left the trail, the dried-up lake, one of the major landmarks along the blue trail, was visable. Problem was, getting to the dried-up lake required hiking through mud and thick prickler bushes. Halfway to the dried-up lake, complaints about the hiking conditions arose. Once again, the intrepid group of hikers came to a dead stop, their feet sinking into the muck.

Suddenly, a call was heard on the wind: "HELLLLLLLOOOOOOOO!!!!"

"HELLLLLOOOOOOOOO!" the hikers called back! Moments later, the Marines had arrived! Well... ONE Marine, anyway. Paul was a friend of one of the campers back at the campground and he had lost his way while strolling through the woods.

"Thank God I found you guys!" Paul exclaimed, "I was lost!"

"Thanks God you found us!" Joe's faithless compainions cried, "WE were lost! Guide us back home!"

So Paul and Joe's companions trode off... in precisely the wrong direction.

Joe tried to convince them that they needed to return to the dried-up lake... that they needed to pick up the blue trail again... but by the time he managed to convey this to Paul, Joe too was lost.

Paul told the group to stay put. He and Joe were going to climb a nearby ridge and see if they couldn't spot landmarks.

Once safely away from the other six hikers, Paul turned to Joe and asked "Why is everyone following me??? I was friggin' LOST when I found you and I'm friggin' LOST NOW!"

Joe resisted the urge to throttle Paul and instead returned to his friends who were by now soaked to the bone from the pouring rain. "Here's the deal," he said, "We're choosing ONE direction and going that way until we hit something. Otherwise, we could be out here for a very very VERY long time."

Nearly seven hours after leaving the waterfall, the hikers finally came across a sign of civilization: a wide trail stretching to eternity in both directions, marked with the sign "JOHN KRAVITZ HUNTING TRAIL - TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED."

The campers turned left onto the trail (when in doubt, turn left) and, somewhat over an hour later, found themselves on the outskirts of Pennsylvania Route 487. They ran over to a cabin and knocked on the door. No one answered. They ran around to the side door and knocked. Still no answer. With rain and lightning spilling all around them, the hikers decided upon desperate measures. Joe hefted a large rock, went around to a side window, prepared to take aim, and was suddenly shocked to find himself face-to-face with a very angry-looking old man.

"Get off my property!" the man shouted, "Get off my land before I call the police!"

"PLEASE CALL THE POLICE!" the campers shouted back. "We've been hiking for nine hours!"

"I have a shotgun!" Kravitz announced.

With that, the hikers started down Route 487, cursing the name Kravitz with every step. Eventually, the hikers came across a country store that had closed for the evening. Night had fallen but there, across the road, lit by a lone streetlight, stood salvation: a pay phone! One 9-1-1 call later, and several highway patrol cars rolled up alongside our soaking, shivering and desperately tired group of hikers.

"I know where the hell you were coming from!" one officer commented, "You could have been out there forever if you didn't turn left! Your friends back at the cabin called us a couple hours ago..."

The officer picked up his radio and called in. "We found all eight of them and are returning them to the campground."

The patrol car's radio burst into life. "The fella they're stayin' with says there should be nine of 'em."

"Where's the ninth one?" the officer asked.

"Uh-oh." Paul muttered.

As it turned out, there wasn't a ninth one. The ninth person had declined to join the hikers and was later discovered asleep in the back seat of his car.

But none of those hikers ever forgot that bastard John Kravitz - the man so miserable that he wouldn't lift a finger to help eight bedraggled hikers who had lost their way deep in his back yard.

Joe swears that one day, he will return to the Kravitz residence. And if that old man is still alive, Joe will not resist the urge to throttle him.


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