Whitecloud Mountains, Idaho, 1976 `Death March' ...
My buddy and I were taking a shortcut across the spine running west of Castle Peak. It was early in a weeklong trip - we were carrying 50-lb packs. We crossed the ridge and were making our way down a chute on the other side when my buddy cried out for help. I was probably in 3 point contact with the rocks - I turned around to see my buddy bouncing down the ravine. I could not help him: 1) I could not get over to him; and 2) his momentum would probably be unstoppable even if I could. All I could do was watch - as he bounced his way down the rock chute - on his face/front side, then onto his back/pack side, back on his front, and so on ... with each bounce taking him closer to the edge of a 150-ft cliff. I thought I was watching his ... death unfold before me ...
Amazingly his last bounce (before what would be his big bounce) ... his pack got snagged at literally the edge of the cliff. I carefully descended and unstrapped him from his pack, righted him, and then ... got his pack. We addressed injuries - which were minor considering. We then silently collected various items left up and down the chute, broken eyeglasses, shattered fishing rod, etc.
Without a word we carefully descended the rock and talus ridge to a mountain lake below. At the lake we without words and though on cue dug through our packs and found pocket size Bibles, opened them, and started reading. We had not talked religion heretofore, nor did we now. But we were both quite aware we had just gone through some pretty serious stuff.
After a while I did what I normally do - I assembled my fishing rod and walked over to the lake. For reason noted above he could only watch. He followed me over to the lake.
I caught a nice trout early on - we watched as it thrashed about in the crystal clear water as I was reeling him in ... when, out of the deep - a much HUGER fish came up and bit the tail off the one I was reeling in. My buddy and I looked at each other; I reeled in my line, grabbed my gear, we walked over to what would be our camp - unrolled our sleeping bags, and still without a word got in our bags to go to sleep - apparently in effort to end a day which was just too much to take in.
To be continued.