“I don’t care. Whatever you guys want to do.‚” Joey took off his helmet and ran his fingers through his long, curly hair.
“If you guys want to go on, Joey and I will just go back to the car and wait,” said Uri, the youngest of our group.
“Ok. That’s cool. We shouldn’t be gone too long. The trail can’t go on for too much farther. Uri, how far did you say we’ve already been?” asked Jason.
Uri pushed some buttons on his speedometer and soon replied “About five miles.”
We had heard that the trail was about six miles long but none of us had ever been to the end. Gabi, Jason and I decided to press on to the end of the trail while Uri and Joey returned to the car. Gabi was riding Joey’s old bike – a real piece. Mountain biking takes some extra effort when the bike is without brakes. Gabi had been struggling with “old red‚” all day long – they had both taken quite a beating. We all laughed with Gabi as he came careening down the steep hills, dragging his feet as he barreled towards the sharp curves of this wooded bike trail. We had all had a great time that day – the unseasonably warm February day easily lent itself to some much needed exercise and fun.
The end of the day was quickly approaching as Jason, Gabi, and I attempted to make the most of our day off from school. The three of us headed west down the trail while Joey and Uri headed east to the car. After another thirty minutes of riding, Jason, Gabi, and I were at what we assumed to be the end of the bike trail. We had just traversed some pretty exciting terrain – some of the most exciting all day. We had heard that the trail simply ended in the middle of the woods – no other way to get out except for the way we came. Gabi’s complaints had reached a peak by this time.
From the end of the trail we could see a wide grassy power line cut which made us wonder if there was an easier way to get back to our car. All three of us were greatly fatigued as the trail riding had taken a lot out of us. After a lot of riding and a lot debating, we decided that the only sure way to get back to the car was to go back the way we had come. Gabi was truly upset by this news and was very reluctant to follow Jason and I back down the trail of doom…
“Where is that guy?” asked a frustrated Jason. Jason and I had been waiting on Gabi for about twenty minutes. We had only been riding forty minutes and already Gabi was twenty minutes behind. Finally, through the woods we heard the clatter of the bike frame as Gabi made his way down the trail. We waited for Gabi to catch up with us – as soon as he was in sight, Jason and I took off down the trail again. Gabi’s complaints came fast and furious – neither Jason nor I were in the mood to listen to his complaining. Jason and I were hungry and just as ready to get back to the car as Gabi was.
I got back to the car first. Jason came next. Dusk was fast approaching. Jason and I loaded our bikes onto the bike rack and took a seat on the ground.
“Was Gabi behind you?‚” asked the concerned brother Uri.
“Yeah, we saw him about an hour ago,” I replied, frustrated and ready to go home.
Now another hour had passed. It was now night. No Gabi. Feeling bad about leaving my friend behind, I decided to walk into the woods to try to find Gabi. Joey, rested from the day’s biking, led the way. Joey and I called for Gabi over and over. We walked for a bit and then started to jog. I was tired so I let Joey run ahead of me. By this time it was far too dark for any normal person to see. Joey and I ran through the woods, yelling our heads off for Gabi. No answer. After running through the darkness for about a mile, Joey called out…
“I found him!‚”
Found him? What does that mean? Is Gabi ok? I would soon find out. I hesitantly walked towards the sound of Joey’s voice – what if Gabi was bloody or unconscious or worse? I had to find out. I had to help my friend.
Upon arriving at the scene, Gabi was laying on the ground and Joey was talking to him. Gabi was speaking – rather incoherently for the most part. Joey and I helped Gabi onto his feet. I got the bike and walked it alongside Joey who was supporting Gabi for the walk back to the car. Gabi asked how far we were from the car. We kept answering “a couple hundred yards.‚” Gabi was thirsty. His water bottle was empty. I filled it with creek water and told him that he hadn’t used all of his water. Gabi was cold. He kept saying that he just wanted to sit down for a minute – rest. We couldn’t let him. Gabi said he had been yelling for us for a long time. We couldn’t hear him – he was imagining. Gabi said that he had felt so peaceful laying there on the trail – he was ready to die. Gabi kept saying that he felt so warm laying there – he could hear voices – not our voices. He could see a light…
Jason met us about half way back to the car – he helped us carry our friend down the trail. Uri had turned on the car lights which were pointing into the woods from the road. As we made our way towards the bright lights, it seemed as though we would never make it. We continued our conversation with Gabi to make sure he would make it. He would make it. He would make it.
Gabi’s mother yelled at us, “How could you let this happen to my son!‚” Gabi’s dad told us “You shouldn’t have left him behind.” They were right. But we had saved Gabi’s life.
Gabi went to the hospital later that night because his body temperature had not risen above 94 degrees since he returned home. Gabi was diagnosed with severe hypothermia and dehydration. He was treated and released that night. He also had a bad case of diarrhea from the creek water– sorry ’bout that Gabi.