Growing up in the Adirondack Mountains provided me with a lot of adventures.
Some could be also be called misadventures – or close-calls.
Especially one in particular.
It was winter of 1982. I was eleven.
My good friend and neighbor, Heidi (about the same age) and I decided to go exploring.
I grew up in Jay. A small village nestled in the valley of the mountains.
The Ausable River runs around the town, and from the river are a multitude of streams that flow down from the peaks which feed the river.
Every winter, the streams are mostly frozen.
We decided to go trekking up the mountains by using the streams.
Meaning, we walked on the ice that now covered the creek-bed.
The 1980s were a by-gone era where kids could go off without any adult supervision.
From dawn till dusk, practically.
We knew we could be gone for hours so we packed some baggies of snack food.
The sky was clear which meant the air was brisk.
The kind that makes your face hurt, and cause icicles to form around your eyes and nose.
But the cold didn’t bother us as we moved our way deeper and deeper into the mountains.
The sky occasionally disappeared under the canopy of pine and hardwood trees.
Every once in a while, we’d catch a glimpse of a deer or a wild rabbit out foraging for food in the deep snow.
A hawk hovered over us, eyeing the rabbit as potential prey.
We pressed on.
Soon we came to a bend in the creek and noticed what appeared to be a snow-covered access road.
We decided to leave the creek to explore it.
As we walked, there was a Blue Jay nearby just screeching at us.
It vanished as soon as we spotted a red building.
Well, it was probably more of a shed.
Heidi and I glanced at one another, and shrugged – Why not?
The road appeared as if no one had been here in a long time so we didn’t think there was any harm in checking the place out.
The structure had a tiny porch, and inside (yes, we physically went in) were two rooms – one’s the main living space that contained the kitchen/woodstove, and the other a bedroom.
It wasn’t much of a bedroom. Just a cot and a wooden stool that held an ugly green lamp.
Heidi noticed something on the wall and pointed.
It was a shadow box display of these gold and silver medals.
Suddenly, we heard a droning sound of an engine.
I peered out of the closest window, and my mouth dropped.
Someone on a snowmobile just arrived – blocking our only way out.
It was a man dressed in a camouflaged snowsuit. His face was mostly covered with a long graying beard.
Strapped across his back was a rifle.
Heidi and I froze for what felt like an eternity.
“He’s gonna kill us if he finds us here!” Heidi whispered in a panicked tone.
I frantically peered around and saw that the bedroom held a narrow single-paned window.
I rushed to it and checked.
“It’s unlocked!” I replied.
The glass was so heavy it took the both of us to heave it open enough for us to crawl out of it.
I neglect to say that I was wearing a fake fur coat that was brown in color.
As we ran, one – two shots were fired.
We didn’t stop, we just kept right on going, barreling through the thick forest, branches snapping at our faces until finally we cleared the trees and onto a highway.
We kept right on running until we were probably a mile down the snow-rutted road before stopping to catch our breaths.
Thankfully, the man never followed us.
And of course, we’d never forgotten about this experience. 😉