Years ago, I packed in over several nights, with a backpacking group near Truckee, CA, north of Donner Pass. We were at approximately 7,000 feet elevation in the Sierra Mountains between Sacramento, CA and Reno, NV. It was a very exciting trip.
A year afterward, I planned to repeat as a day-hike in with a friend. After he backed out, I decided to go it alone. I ended up going later than I should, and was unprepared for what I encountered. For my foolishness, I paid the price with months of back damage and pain. I can almost laugh about it now – almost. It was also exciting, but in a very different way.
Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named, such as cuckoo or sizzle. It is also used for rhetorical effect, as in this poem.
by Bill Reynolds
High Sierra beauty.
No food. No drink. No sense!
What plan? Quick in, then back out.
Whoosh. Like the wind. Time passed
Boink. Suddenly, it’s late.
Dusk. ARGH! Gotta get out.
Before dark. Oh no: It’s feckin’ dark!
No moon, no map. Had a lighter. Zip.
Oh, shit. Muddled.
Not one essential, much less ten.
No flashlight! Groan. Why?
Thinking? Stoopid. Grrrr to self.
Clatter climb rocks. Get out. Fast. It’s Dark.
Thump. Crunch. I fell, no moon. Ark!
Did I say, “It’s dark?”
Crunch. Footsteps. Are they mine?
Can’t see. Bonk. Oof! Pain.
F-word, again. No better.
I keep swearing, like it’s gunna help.
Bam. Step in hole. Crunch. Knocked out breath.
Shocked. Confused. Must see but cannot.
Crackle, smack. Branch to my face. Blood. Ooze.
Buzz. Bugs? Crunch. Twisted ankle.
Scrape, bang, boom, bash. ACK! More pain.
Bonk. Fall on face. Dark. Hurt. Walk.
Pain. Bam. Oof! Again. What’d I step in?
Another hole. Whack, crunch.
Damn holes. Hiss. Oh god. A snake?
Hear something? More crackle.
What’s that? A clatter?
Get out. Fast. Don’t run. Too dark.
Bear? Mountain Lion?
Kill me? Eat me? Yikes. I’m so screwed.
Hoot. Owl. Danger.
Skunk. Whew. It stinks.
Careful. Out fast. Whiz? Crap!
I’m Cold. And wet. In pain.
Must pee. Yikes. Unzip.
Done. Relief. Don’t fall in it. Re-zip.
Ouch more. Get out. Don’t fall.
Boink. Thud. Head pain.
Scrunch, twist, whack.
Repeat. Fear. Repeat. Dumb me.
How far? How long? Lost?
Alone. Clatter. Alone?
What was I Thinking?
Break free. Find car! Keys?
Oh no. No keys. Groan. Swear.
Hidden key. Found it.
Brrrrr. Shaking. I am very cold.
Tall grass. Kerplunk. Dropped key.
Damnit, can’t see. Cold. Pain.
Sore knees, search the ground.
Feel in dirt, no gloves. I found it. Clatter to feet.
Hold tight. Screech. I scratched car, then swear.
Bang. Slam door. Varoom.
Start engine. Get out. Cuckoo.
Oof over bumps. Drive. Find my brain.
Good trip. Nice day. Never again!
Bring a flashlight.
You can’t look either way, nor mind the gaps, if you can’t see.