One Hell of a Date

I had been asked on a double date with a new guy and two of his friends, whom I didn't know. The four of us took off for an all-day hike in New Mexico. Keep in mind that this was in 1964, before cellphones and beepers. We went to the mountains on a warm, sunny day, and the mistakes became apparent immediately: We had gone with only sneakers, jeans, and jackets. I don't remember taking food, either. Then we split up (another mistake) to ascend two sides of a ridge; the plan was to meet at the top. I went with my date. Well, we hiked for a long time, finding neither the top nor our friends. What we did find was that we were lost and confused in the snow--and we barely knew each other. Somewhere deep in my brain, I heard my dad's lesson: "Admit you're lost, stop, and go downhill." My date wanted to "go up to that peak and see where we are" (one mistake we didn't make), so we had a go-around about that. I guess my plan made more sense, so down we went, by now in thigh-deep snow. It was 3 p.m., and we were incredibly hungry and cold. Down and down we continued--I couldn't remember that much snow going up. We pushed through the deepening snow and fading light, emerging right at the edge of a huge cliff that we hadn't encountered on the way up. Then my date did a really heroic thing: He tore up his T-shirt to wrap my icy feet in cloth under my sneakers. I insisted we go over the cliff rather than going back to find a better way down. So we went over--hand over hand. When we finally got to the base of the cliff, we found our friends waiting in their car. They were white with panic because they had been driving around looking for us and were about to leave the mountain for the sheriff's office. It was about 4:30 p.m. I never heard from my date, or his friends, again. In retrospect, I found the experience exhilarating and considered him heroic for listening to my way of getting out, as well as for wrapping my feet like that. I wonder how he remembers it.

— Abby, 69

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