January 9, 2024

Weather the Storm

The way of the bison is wise.

A herd of American bison live in the field across the river from my home. It is said that bison are the only animal that will face the storm and walk into it when it blows in. In this way, the storm is shortened and they find the light sooner than the animals that panic and run with the storm and wind.

In the many blizzards that have blown across North Dakota since living here, I have watched the bison herd face the storm each time.

It is an admirable trait.

A number of years ago my wife and I decided to backpack the Deep Gap trail in western North Carolina and spend a couple of days in the wilderness to refresh.

The trail begins at the summit of Mt. Mitchell at 6,684’, the highest point east of the Mississippi River in the ancient Appalachians. The trail proceeds to Mt. Craig, the second-highest point, and from there it extends several miles along sharp ridge lines before a dramatic descent to Deep Gap, our chosen campsite for the night.

Upon making camp, we were surprised to be alone on one of the more desirable camping locations in North America, though it is remote.

As Mary prepared dinner over a camp stove, I was luxuriating barefoot in the lush grass, soothing tired muscles from the trek and stormy descent. As I began setting a campfire, the valley wind began to blow. It was but a kiss to begin with but soon picked up in intensity.

Looking 2,000’ above on the trail we had earlier descended, the conifer trees were being whipped in dramatic angles by the wind, and soon the rain began in our location.

We were warm and dry in the tent, thought our descent the evening before had included about 40 yards of a knife edge limestone cliff, where the slightest mistake would prove fatal. Ascending it in driving rain and wind was certainly attention-getting.

By 05:00, the gale force wind threatened to tear the tent to tatters, and the storm was getting worse by the minute, so we decamped and began our trek home.

Literally crawling on hands and knees and sometimes belly-crawling, we surmounted the knife edge ridge again and were suddenly in the comfort of damp boreal forest that somewhat sheltered us from the rain. We shed our packs and lit the camp stove to make hot chocolate.

Continuing the trek back, the rain continued and the damp chill was working deep to the bones. Finally arriving back at the ranger station, where we hikers sign in and out, we were greeted by a ranger who said, “We were just organizing a search party for you.”

He added, “You were the only two people in a half-million acres when the remnants of that hurricane blew in and we weren’t sure how you would weather it.”

Well, that explained our solitary campsite.

In the pre-smartphone era, and given our youth and desire for the wilderness, we hadn’t bothered to check a weather forecast — but as the storm gained strength, we faced it and got out.

So, what must we all do with the inevitable storms of the coming year?

Given the history of the last several years and the endless histrionic babbling and fearmongering from politicians and their Leftmedia minions, the way of the bison is wise — even though other herds conclude, “That bison is too dumb to get out of the storm!”

Mark Twain once said, “Sometimes I wonder if the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

Fact is, the bison gets through the storm first. And we will too if we approach it head-on.

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