Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I had the strangest dream last night. I was swimming in a muddy river pretty far from the nearest road with some friends. It was a river that ran through brushy mesquite covered hills. I grabbed something underwater that I immediately recognized by feel.
I have picked up, put on, tied and re-tied my hiking boots millions of times over the years. Your boots are really the closest things to you when you hike for a living for years. Every step, every waking moment is spent in them and sometimes even when you sleep. There in my hand was the familiar feel of a leather hiking boot. I pulled on the boot and discovered that it was attached to a leg, in fact a body. I wasn't sure how much of a body because I couldn't see it in the muddy water. It was stuck in the mud so I tugged to free it from the silty bottom. I worked with the current to float it to the surface so I could see what I had found. I was yelling to my friend as to what I had found. The body broke the surface stronger than I though it would and it ended up splashing mud and blood all over him. He was not amused but my other friends laughed thinking it was a joke, then they saw the body floating. He was a white man about 30 years old with sandy colored shoulder length hair. He was fully clothed, levis, plaid shirt and melted nylon jacket. He looked like he had fallen onto a fire and his entire stomach area except for his spine was completely burned out. He hadn't been dead long, everything thing else on him was intact, not even his hair was burnt. My friend said we needed to carry the body out. We ended up putting his upper body in one large hefty trash back and his lower body in another. I carried the upper body and my brother carried the lower half for a little while. My brother has a bad back so I ended up carrying both bags. If you have ever carried a person over distance by yourself you know how hard it is. I was carrying him over some really tough boulder fields and up some pretty steep terrain. My legs burned. All I could think of was the family of this poor guy and how they deserved to have his body as intact as possible. It took us hours to get back to our van and I was exhausted by that time. We loaded the body into the van and took off to my station.
At the Forrest Service Headquarters I rolled up and met someone I worked with and said "I've recovered a body" to which he responded "oh no." I wasn't sure if he was sad I had recovered a body or about the paperwork involved to document it. We brought the body in and laid him out on a table in the garage bay. He looked so young with his shoulder length hair and blue eyes just looking out. I felt bad for his parents. When we went to move him into cold storage he blinked. I was startled and moved away, but I thought it was due to some involuntary muscle action, so I wasn't scared. When I moved in close to pick him up again his eyes suddenly turned to follow my every move. I got this very strange feeling that this was not some involuntary reaction but that he was really looking at me. I moved away and sideways but his eyes still followed mine. I moved in and picked him up and his eyes looked at me the entire time. As I put him into the walk-in cooler he kept looking into my eyes and would occasionally blink. I didn't know how to explain this so I just gently put him down and backed away. I was in the bay looking out a window at the surrounding forest when I heard one of the BLM girls say "he doesn't know, does he." I turned, "know what" I asked. That man you found killed several Apaches for sport. Some of the men in the tribe found him and killed him. Law enforcement has been looking for the body and the men who killed him since early this morning. I suddenly got the eerie feeling. I said "that's why the spirits picked me to find him, I'm Apache." I have been on body recovery many times before and have never felt weird about it. But right at that moment, I got the chills. This man, who had killed out of a hate burning inside his belly. The man who the Apache killed by burning the hate out of him. The man who watched me pick him up even after he was dead. It all seemed to fit together but why or how I didn't know.

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