My most vivid memory of my childhood, was the time I was lost overnight in Yosemite.
I was only 6 years old.
I had wandered off in just jeans and a T-shirt. I remember being too embarrassed to ask for help and I just kept walking trying to find my way back to my family, knowing I was going to get in trouble.
It got dark quickly and I realized I was very lost.
I kept walking.
I remember a coyote approaching me out and my screaming at him. It ran off.
I remember crawling under the ledge of a rock and making a bed of pine needles, trying to keep warm.
It went below freezing and I was up at around 8000 ft elevation.
I thought I heard a bear.
I remember a helicopter and its search light. I didn't run out. I think I was still scared that I would get in trouble.
The next morning I was drinking from a stream when I saw a hiker and ran to him and told him I was lost.
I remember getting to ride in the rangers car.
I still have the clip from the newspaper describing my adventure. There were over 60 people out looking for me. Besides the temperature dropping to below freezing, there was also concern because there was a mother bear with cubs in the vicinity.
In retrospect, I realize that it would have been just as likely for me not to have survived. How fortunate I was that the mountains let me live. I think it's why I love being in the high country so much. Why I feel so alive in the mountains.
Look What I Found
The internet is amazing. A little Google search and I found this.brief from CHINA LAKE MOUNTAIN RESCUE GROUP.
I have never read this account before. Sometimes I tell the story of being lost and I wonder if I am making it up.
FYI My birth name is Jon Danniell Tooley. Ruben Pages raised me with my mom since I was a little older than 2. When I went out into the world on my own, I decided to be Jon Danniells. So the little 6-year old in the story, John Pages is the indeed me, Jon Danniells.
#7321 Search, White Wolf, 14 September Dennis Burge
We received a call at 0500 that a 6-year-old boy was lost from the White Wolf campground
in Yosemite National Park. The boy, John Pages of North Hollywood, had been lost about
1600 on the 13th. The rangers had searched all evening and were now calling out the MRA
At about 0800 we arrived at base camp and most of the group immediately set off with one
of the rangers to see if tracks could be picked up in one of the most likely areas.
During the next couple of hours more MRA teams arrived and went out on assignments. Many
tracks were picked up, but a clear picture of John's route had not yet developed when one
of the teams called in to report that the boy was approaching with some hikers. This was
at 1115. The hikers had contacted John next to a stream, just over a mile from camp,
about 30 minutes before. Aside from having had a somewhat frightening night, he was in
Members taking part in this search were: Burge, Lucas, Peterson, Joy, Jones, Brown,
Harris, Warschauer, Atkins, Moore, and Johnson.
1. Several crews reported positive identification of Vibram tracks as being those of the
lost boy. This was done by comparison with tracks pointed out by the boy's father as
being John's. When compared with the boy's boots, these tracks were found to be about 2"
too long. Someone should have been suspicious about such large tracks for a 6-year-old.
2. There should be only one base camp radio. Having 2 or 3 leads to messages not getting
to the right people. Also, incomplete logs sometimes result, making it hard to determine
a complete picture of the operation.