Summer of ’75, the Uintahs

So, back to our days a soccer players for a moment, and then onward to the next wilderness trip, because they’re related, and in fact this next story probably had long term health consequences for Dave.

David was a pretty good fullback, and I think he liked soccer pretty well, but he didn’t like our coach very well. It was, at least most of the time I knew him, kind of hard to get Dave riled up (or to hurt him), but Mr. Beatty used to yell “My grandmother could run faster than you!” or “You kick like my mother!”… Dave didn’t care for that! It kinda got under his skin. I think that’s why he got distracted… anyway, one day we were playing at the field in the dunes, and the ball got kicked way out of bounds, and David ran after it… right into the back right quadrant of a car driving by the field. He banged his knee hard against that car and it knocked him down, and out of the game for the day… and he hobbled a bit for a few more days. But the real damage didn’t become apparent until our backpacking trip across the Uintah mountain range in 1976.

That Summer, my uncle Al planned a trip that took my mom (Pat), sisters Karen and Eva, David, me, and our best friend Kert Fox to the Wasatch and Uintah mountains, East of Salt Lake City Utah — the only East-West section of the Rocky Mountain range. The plan was to hike the whole range, 110 miles, from West to East, while Pat, Karen and Eva drove and camped their way in the same general direction. On the 3rd day of the hike we would intersect a highway where we could meet up with them reprovision with food, adjust our gear if we needed more or less stuff, and just have some non-wilderness company.

Well… the hike was a lot of exertion, and as you can see, our packs were not small… first couple of days went well, but by day three, Dave’s knee was bothering him a lot, and by the time we met up with Eva, Pat, and Karen and started hiking into day four all together for at least the morning, Dave was really concerned he would not be able to make it the whole way — we were heading up to the highest point in Utah in the next few days, Kings Peak, at over 13,000 feet…

Al, David, Kert, Karen, Pat

Day 3, hiking the Uintahs

Well, we ended up strong arming (legging?) Eva into taking David’s place for the rest of the hike — the way she tells it, she was none too happy about it, not having the right gear, not being prepared, and carrying a lot more weight than she was comfortable carrying. Plus, wilderness travel with two teenage boys and her 46 year old uncle… wasn’t her favorite of plans!

I don’t know what the next 7 or 8 days were like for Dave, Pat and Karen (perhaps Karen will chime in here someday)… but I loved the hike. It was rough, and I was slow up those steep rocky mountainsides… but the beauty we experienced was formative for me. Kert, a strong cross-country runner was so fast, we’d almost lose sight of him as he bounded up the mountains ahead of us. Al called him “the stork”, with long thin strong legs, flying away.

The next year, Kert’s family moved to Colts Neck New Jersey. I never saw him again. Sadly, on a trip home at Christmastime from Duke University, his sophomore year, the car he was traveling in flipped on a cloverleaf, and Kert died of his injuries a couple of days later. He was the first close friend of mine to die. I plan to create a memorial her for Kert as well, he deserves to be remembered! Though the internet didn’t yet exist when we lost him, I think he would have been a mover and shaker in this digital world.

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