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The Great Divide and Life

Updated on May 25, 2018
Ericdierker profile image

Holding degrees in philosophy and Law. Formal studies or certificates or degrees in business, theology, insurance and security. Ex-preacher.

No Divide Just Love

My kids having a blast.
My kids having a blast. | Source

Some Things You Should Not Believe

This story is to be taken seriously as folks died. Of course good folks to my understanding. I helped dig up their icy graves. No smells just ice fully animated for the dead girl. My buddy Gary and I thought they should be left alone but we knew summer would thaw it out and that would be wrong.

We were trapped there due to a huge storm and avalanches blocking the road out. We had come to qualify as professional downhill skiers. That did not happen as we could figure.

Now a flash flood down a canyon creates a powerful train’s mighty roar. You can hear it and skidaddle out of it’s way. An Avalanche is a different story. It is more like a pop you may hear but it takes a trained person to know what it is.

Now think of this. A trained downhill skier on near ice can reach about 85 miles an hour. The fastest can go over ninety but they normally do not win due to the navigation of the course. In powder that is soft and slows you down you may go up to 60 mph if you point straight down the hill. A hard moving avalanche can reach, maybe, at the most 80 mph. You do the math for a skier in front of the avalanche. What you are trained to do is go as fast as you can and then once caught tumble and flip and swim up, using your hand to create a space so that once trapped you can breathe. I understand that in this age you have beeper type things so you can be found quickly. Seems it would take the fun out of near death. But that is just me.

Now Gary and I knew the deal and burned down the mountain at a good 75 mph. The Avalanche was going down a shoot/gorge. Gary cut a hard right up a ridge and I followed. Getting out of the way of a natural bully is preferable to fighting it. I owe him my life. It kept going, right into the base and thereby the lodge with 80 or so souls. We whipped off our goggles and knew what had to be done. The trek took us up to another 60+ mph. Boulders and trees brought down by the snow earthquake made it down right scary.

Just A Little Love Sunshine

Noting to say.
Noting to say. | Source

The Old CB. If You Don't Cry You are Dead

Back Up To A Different Trip A Year Before

My semi rig was only an 18 wheeler with 12 gears. A Peterbilt with about a 70,000 pounds. Let us get some perspective for a second. It is called the great divide mainly because in our huge nation, one side of the divide has water flowing east, the other has water flowing west. Otherwise known as the Continental Divide. I was doing for Durango CO. I was coming out of Kansas. K.-Town a sweet ride. Back in the day CBs were used to thwart Smokeys. But only 2 hours later I was pushing hard in fourth gear going up the slope.

It is a real puckering experience. You are pushing hard going up but ready to use all your low gears and breaks going down “the other side”. And the road is not sweet but twisting and curvy to the max. You really cannot tell the difference of your smoke from squealing wheels or from your smoking breaks.

Now here are just two natural facts. A long haul trucker knows when the route is hairy coming up. The first thing we do is pull over and pee. Your sphincter may get tight but your bladder gets lose.

The other thing you have to know is that there isn’t any oxygen at ten thousand feet. Of course a tourist from sea level will get elevation sickness. Sometimes three days before they acclimate. Well a diesel engine is no different. I was trained to pump and pull on the accelerator. Now it is all computer adjustment I think. Now you can just imagine an engine with 70 thousand pounds conking out on a 7% grade. It will roll back down quicker than greased lightning.

Well on this trip it went real well. I only tore up about 300$ worth of breaks. Pagosa Springs is a great place for a T-bone steak and awful good cowboy Pinto beans. Alright, several Coors Beers also and some happy looks with Amanda the waitress.

It would be real nice if you can remember what this story was about.

Gary hit me with a backhand that nearly broke a rib. “What the hell I screamed”. Gary simply said that we did not look in front of the lodge for survivors or full casualties. Everyone was focused on the lodge victims. We were out of our wreck of a car and booted up and suited up in less than ten seconds (that is kind of a joke as it takes more than 5 minutes to get frozen ski boots on) We were doing a kind of duck footed back up past the lodge and into the Ski Patrol building. Two guys and a beautiful young lady told us to get out. They were about to fire real bazooka rounds into the highest snow back in what was called a “controlled slide”. If you hit it just right with no folks around at 4 O’clock in the morning no one gets hurt. And you clear it from more uncontrolled slides.

Another Day

Nature is great even when hard.
Nature is great even when hard. | Source

Have Some Fun With It

Crazy Work

Gary was at least a number 10 on the handsome side. So the lady jumped in to hear us out. Back in those days we would take a full pattern with 12 foot bamboo “poles”. Within minutes it seemed that the patrol’s radio and phone calls had 20 folks in the effort. Some used snowshoes and others cross country shoes and others like us, racing skis.

This is not pretty. A patrolman sets a grid 4 directions. Then you do a pinwheel gig. Like a full wheel going out in four directions everyone has to be quiet as a mouse so they can hear a shout from the icy scream from below in a tomb that leaves broken bones and frostbit for the lucky ones who did not die.

So you take your pole with all your might and spike it into the snow. If you hit someone it is usually followed by a scream. Sometimes it just is a thud and the grave gets marked. A good man cries. Downhill helmets and googles are worn so as not to freeze your brain and eyes. No extra ear cover is used. So they freeze as you listen to a sound below.

Well we will continue this later. We wonder what the difference is between a death and a survivor. But I suppose the greatest divide is between winners and losers, in this case dead and alive.


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    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Larry, fully thank you for coming by and letting me know. If you do not cry over our little boy "Teddy Bear" I doubt your heart is pumping.

      Now I have some confessions here. I really was a long haul trucker for a bit. And I was really a Down Hill Ski Racer and I really was in an avalanche with Gary. Even though it looks far fetched and type of fairy tale, it is true best I remember from about 45 years ago.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Denise your sentiment makes sense. But in fact freezing to death is said to be peaceful and a let go after the initial panic. Isn't that weird?

      Call me nuts but I like the Idea that I could die, giving my life for another. I probably read the Bible too much.

    • Larry Fish profile image

      Larry W Fish 

      6 months ago from Raleigh

      You brought tears to my eyes with your writing today. I don't know how many times I have listened to the songs of, Teddy Bear. Every time I listen I get tears in my eyes. Red Sovine was a master story teller. The story about the avalanche made me go, WOW. Your writing really hit me with a bang today, Eric. Great work!!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      6 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Wow! Getting buried alive is certainly not my idea of a way to die! I suppose that at some time or another, we all have to leave this world. But I hope that for me, it will be the result of helping someone else to live.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Maybe the song (I like songs more than poetry)

      Now I busted back to AZ and my very good friend remembered my good days. He reminded me of this story. He proclaimed this was true.

      Maybe his story is wrong. I sure do hope that the four dead was and is my imagination.

      I simply don't know nothing about dying.

    • manatita44 profile image


      6 months ago from london

      Real life ad ve nture stuff and scary too. I don't fancy being chased by an avalanche. Exciti ng days!

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda, I just woke up as we headed down the divide. It was just something Gary got me into. You go into an unconsciousness and move and come out loving the folks that came out. Frost bite in toes and ears come back to haunt you later. God told us that there is no love greater than giving our life for another.

      And I was not there.

      However my children go nuts when I stick a needle through my toe. It is dead. You should see me kick a soccer ball.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill thank you for being the outstanding man you are. Hearsay is all I got.. It might be that two men actually did that. And just maybe the hearsay is mine.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      6 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, "taking the fun out of near death." Really? You and I certainly are not cut from the same cloth. I'm glad you survived to tell us these stories.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA on the ragged edge....but man it feels good to be alive after reading those vignettes.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Mary, nature comes a calling. Good folk try to help out strangers to it's perils. To my recollection the work went on for a full day.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      What an ordeal it must be to be buried in that snow or on building debris. Winners survive as they always do whatever the circumstance they're in. In the test of life, I wonder where I will be in that divide.


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