A Father's Love, A Mother's Sacrifice - A Lesson in Preparediness
|Faded Ditto - Remnants of my college years.|
I tend to be one of those people who keep what to others may seem like meaningless things. A scrap of paper with an address and phone number, an old Greyhound bus ticket, the odd business card. While combing through my keepsakes, getting ready for another round of purging, I came across an old faded four-page dittoed story. From the title I must have received it in one of my college classes in the mid 1970s. Reading through it, a rush of the same emotion I felt back then floods over me. However, unlike previous years when taken out of the box, this time I went to the internet and typed in some keywords and amazingly found what Paul Harvey called, "The rest of the story."
But first, here's the portion I have kept with me move after move and year after year, for almost four decades.
In his room at Willamette Falls Community Hospital, Scott McIntire finished five colored-pencil drawings of his frostbitten toes. Soon after, parts of all ten toes were amputated. The drawings were emblems of loss, not only of his toes, but of innocence, an awareness gained at great cost that a man who has done nothing to deserve it, can be struck down, and that what we most cherish can turn against us.
Scott McIntire had married Diane Strom in May 1972. The wedding was held outdoors, in the Pittock Bird Sanctuary above downtown Portland, Oregon, because the couple shared a love of nature.
When Diane became pregnant, they attended natural-childbirth classes, and Scott was at Diane's side when Emily was born on June 15, 1973.
|Bagby Hot Springs Tub - Wikipedia|
They thought of a place where neither had been, Bagby Hot Springs, about 50 miles southeast of Portland. The water bubbles out of the rock at 137* F., and a trough feeds it into cedar bath stalls with tubs hollowed from big logs. They planned to be back by nightfall.
Thinking that it might be cold, Scott wore a wool shirt and a wind-breaker. Diane put on a raincoat over her wool pants, sweater, and leather jacket. Emily was bundled into a fur-lined snowsuit. They took a camera, a blanket, a diaper bag, two pastrami sandwiches, an apple, and a Thermos of hot chocolate. Emily's diet was not problem; Diane was nursing her.
The family left Portland at 12:30 p.m. in their 1966 station wagon. Eight miles past the Ripplebrook ranger station, but still five miles from Bagby, the road was closed off, and a sign detoured them to the springs along a graveled service road.
Reaching Bagby, Scott parked the car, and they hiked a mile and a half uphill to the springs. It began to snow while they were bathing - - large soft flakes falling in unhurried silence. It seemed to Scott a comforting sight.
On that same Saturday, Charles Mock, a 23-year-old Forest Service employee, decided to go elk hunting in an area about 45 miles north of Bagby in the Cascade Range. He packed some dried food, a sleeping bag, an aluminized space blanket, a tarp, an ax, a water bottle, a knife, matches and his rifle. He parked his pickup at the edge of Wahtum Lake and set out onto the forested slope. He was surprised when it began snowing in the afternoon, and immediately made camp.
By the time the McIntires were back at the parking lot, a foot of snow had fallen. "Let's get going," Scott told Diane. "I want to get past that detour before dark." Scott followed the tracks of a Volkswagen that had left a few minutes ahead of him. The detour sign was by this time covered with snow. Instead of the detour road that would have taken them to the ranger station, the VW, followed by Scott's station wagon, took a logging road that twisted through the forest for 20 miles.
The station wagon started skidding in the snow. Diane drove, and Scott spread the blanket under the rear wheels to give the car traction. It moved along by fits and starts. Scott placed the blanket, ran to catch up, then placed the blanket again. Eventually the car skidded into a ditch. It was now dark, and they realized they would have to spend the night.
|Snow Scene - musicpublishing101.com|
They could not walk more than 50 feet without stopping to rest. At each turn of the winding road, they thought they would come within sight of the main road back to the ranger station, but instead saw another turn. About 10 a.m., after two hours of walking, they stopped and Diane nursed Emily. Diane ate snow. She felt it was the only way to keep up her production of milk. (One sure way to lose body heat is to eat snow. It takes as much heat to turn one ounce of snow into water as it does to heat an ounce of soup at room temperature to boiling.)
Scott and Diane walked two hours more, then stopped beside a tree, where Diane nursed Emily and ate more snow. She wanted to turn back. Scott was bent on reaching the ranger station. They had gone three miles, he claimed, and could have no more than two to go.
At about three that afternoon, they came to a fork in the road. Scott chose the downhill branch, but after 500 feet they were blocked by a snowbank. "We must have taken the wrong road," he told Diane. They headed back toward the fork, Diane now walking listlessly, her bare hands dragging. "Where are your gloves?" Scott asked. "I don't know," Diane replied.
It was getting dark. Off the road, Scott spotted a log lying across a dip in the slope. "Let's spend the night here," he said. He shoveled show out from under the log and they lay down under it with Emily between them. They took turns holding Emily. Diane nursed her. Scott fed snow to Diane. For the first time, they discussed the possibility that they might not survive. But Scott was still optimistic. Martha Forster, a friend who had given them directions to Bagby, knew where they were. There was probably a search party out looking for them already.
When Charles Mock woke up on Sunday morning, his tarp was sagging under the weight of the snow. He broke camp, and it took him six hours to hike the four miles back to his pickup. Unable to move the truck, he spent the rest of the day building a shelter, packing the snow down, setting up his tarp and gathering firewood. "I got myself squared away," he recalls.
Monday morning found Scott and Diane so weak they could barely move. They sat under the log and looked out at the white sky and the falling snow. Emily, like an alarm clock, regulated their dozing. She would start crying, and they would wake and Diane would nurse her. "I can't feed her as much," Diane said. And she ate more snow.
On Monday morning at 9:30, Mrs. Gordon Strom, Diane's mother, called her younger daughter, Susan, in Portland. "I can't seem to reach Scott or Diane," she said. "Something's wrong." Susan was staying with Martha Forster, who had given Scott directions to Bagby. "I bet they got stuck up there," Susan said. "I'll call the forest rangers."
Susan called the Estacada Forest Service immediately. She was told a Sno-Cat was on its way to Bagby as several persons were missing. "We'll call you when we get a report," the Forest Service said.
At 3 p.m., the Forest Service called Susan and told her that the Sno-Cat had reached the Bagby parking lot, but that the McIntires' station wagon was not there. They advised her to call the Clackamas County sheriff's office. Susan talked to Sgt. Lloyd L. Ryan, who quickly organized a search party, using Ripplebrook ranger station as his base.
Sgt. Ryan called Susan back at 5 p.m. and told her they were going out that night with four Sno-Cats and ten snowmobiles. Ryan also contacted the Army National Guard in Salem, and Lt. Col. Gale Goying agreed to keep a Huey helicopter on standby, ready to fly as soon as the ceiling lifted.
|Campfire in the snow - pachd.com|
As the Monday hours slipped by, Scott and Diane took a hard look at their chances. "This is a crazy way for it to end," Diane said. Scott was increasingly alarmed by Diane's behavior. She no longer seemed to care about keeping herself warm. She became delirious, and snatched at Emily and Scott with stiff, bent fingers. When Scott tried to talk to her, she replied incoherently.
Scott awoke during the night. Diane lay with her eyes open. He felt for her pulse. There was none. He tried to close her eyes. They stayed open. Scott thought: "I've got to hold on. I've got to feed Emily." He melted snow in his mouth and fed Emily the water mouth-to-mouth. His feet felt like clubs. He tried not to think about Diane.
On Tuesday morning, the search continued. Volunteers, including two Explorer Scout units, came to the Ripplebrook ranger station and joined in the search. There were about a hundred persons involved. It was one of Oregon's biggest rescue operations in years. But they found nothing.
Charles Mock worked on his snowshoes throughout Tuesday, cutting groves in the tips of the squared saplings and lashing the ends together with rope.
|Helicopter hovering over the snow - dreamtime.com|
Awakened by the sound of a helicopter, Scott began waving frantically. He struggled out from under the log, and by then several men were running toward him. "I'm Scott McIntire," he said. "My wife has been dead for two days. The baby is alive."
"We've been looking for you, " Sargent Ryan said.
Scott entered the emergency room of the Willamette Falls Community Hospital at 3:40 p.m. His temperature was 94 degrees, and he was suffering from severe frostbite. Emily was in fine shape; all she had was a diaper rash. Had she been old enough to thaw out her own snow, doctors said, she probably would not have survived. Diane had died, Scott was informed, chiefly because she had eaten snow to nurse her baby. It was only the worst of several mistakes they had made.
On Wednesday morning, Charles Mock finished his snowshoes, cooked and ate what remained of his food, and started out. He was able to make about one mile an hour, and by dark had reached his first road junction. He walked six more miles before coming to the first house in the village of Dee Flat. It was 1 a.m. on Thursday. He called the Hood River sheriff's office and was taken home.
A father's love: after two decades, a daughter pays tribute to her hero.
One day last June, Emily McIntire, 21, made a speech at her father's wedding. The heat that day was oppressive, and as Emily spoke, rain began to fall on the yellow-and-white-striped outdoor tent. Emily raised her voice above the sound of the rain as she matter-of-factly described her father, Scott. She said he was kind, sweet and sensitive, and her voice broke when she called him "an incredible man." It was a small wedding, though, and everyone there knew what she meant. They knew that Scott had raised Emily alone from the time she was 4 1/2 months old. They knew that this father and daughter shared a special bond, one that had blossomed from a tragic loss.
More than two decades earlier, Scott, 28, and his wife - Emily's mother, Diane, 31 - had taken a Saturday drive from their home in Portland to Bagby Hot Springs in Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest. The November air was crisp and the sky was overcast that day, so the couple enjoyed the steaming water in the hot springs. "We noticed it had started to snow," says Scott, "but we didn't think too much of it. There were about 20 other people there. We stayed another hour before deciding to leave."
By the time the McIntires had hiked the mile and a half back to the parking lot, with Emily snug in her baby backpack, several inches of snow had accumulated. Still, the conditions did not seem serious, so Scott and Diane ate their pastrami sandwiches and shared a thermos of hot chocolate before pushing off. Scott started his Chevy station wagon and followed the tire tracks of a Volkswagen that had left moments earlier. But both the Volkswagen driver and Scott missed a cardboard detour sign, which had gotten wet and fallen from its post into the snow. Although Scott thought they were on …
|The Delusion of Quixote in Watermill|
Scott McIntire began showing his artwork in 1974 and taught at Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland from 1978 through 1983. He is now a fine art professional and painter in the greater New York City area where his artwork is displayed in the Peter Marcelle Gallery, Gerald Peters Gallery, and the Art Sites Gallery. His website - www.scottmcintire.com
Photo: Long Island Post Magazine - Artist VIP 2011, Scott McIntire