I have wanted to get this story out for 3 years. My wife, Ann, and I were in Santa Fe, NM, camping for a week of rest and relaxation. She loves to shop and more especially at Outlet Malls and Garage Sales. I love nature and especially birds. Early into our stay, I went "birding" at the Audubon Society's site high upon a mountain. It was a beautiful place for birds. Although a little cloudy with some thunder, there was very little rain. A couple of days later, I convinced my wife to go with me and see the beautiful birds. When we went to the little office on the mountain, I led her up to the trail to a pretty deep valley near a little stream with beautiful trees all around the area. Of course there were birds in this area,as well. It was a steep climb up the trail and a pretty deep valley. About the time we got to the bottom of the valley, it began to thunder. I told my wife not to worry, because it had done the same thing the time before and even though it began to rain, I assured her that it would not amount to anything. I told her not to worry, it would skirt us. Wellllll, I should have kept my mouth shut. The rain turned into partial hail and the water was rushing down the slope into the valley. The hail was beginning to get larger and collect on the ground making it difficult to navigate the trail. I told Ann that we would be smart to get up and out of the valley and head back to the office. We made it up the slope, but once we hit the top and began to take the trail back to the office, the paths were covered with hail and we were falling on the rolling hail. We were basically lost! Our ears were getting stung with the hail that was about as large as your thumb. We struggled around trying to find our way back and cover our ears with our hands until our fingers got so cold we could not stand to use them to protect our ears. The water and hail were beginning to become a very fast moving stream creating a very dangerous situation where we could easily have been swept away by the rushing water. We were hanging onto otherwise useless trees to keep from falling. About 45 minutes into this, Ann asked me what we should do and I said'"I don't know". We had been trying to stay on our feet without falling and to get protection under the trees, but nothing worked and we were very cold! She then told me how she was so disappointed in me. She said,"You are the man and are supposed to know what to do and be my HERO". That made me feel even worse, so I began to super analyze the situation. We were both beginning to feel the affects of hypothermia. I finally determined the direction we should go and within 15 minutes, we discovered we were on a familiar path and found our way back to the office.
Once we got to the office we were shocked at the amount of hail that had accumulated. We ask them if we could use their restrooms to change into some dry clothes we had in our car. They said we could and it took me 30 minutes to get my clothes off and the others back on. My hands were almost useless,they were so cold and we were both shivering so much we could not stop. When we finally got our clothes on, we were told that the road down to Santa Fe was blocked by a mud slide. Fortunately, it was cleared quickly and we got to go to a restaurant where Ann and I had 5 cups of HOT coffee each before we started to warm up and stop shaking. We were so happy to be back on a Non-moving surface under our feet.
It goes without saying, Ann will never go "Birding" with me again. I think I finally overcame her disappointment in me, but not to the point of trusting my meteorological predictions. I still go bird watching, but usually by myself or sometimes with my grandson, Jackson. At least, he trusts me!
Missouri City, TX
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