After leaving Ava at the North Rim around 8:00 AM Friday 6/10/11, Montana  (Crazy Lil’ White Dawg) and I drove up to the overlook to take some pictures.  We chatted for about 15 minutes with a really nice man named Tom  from Indiana after Montana tried to chase down a chipmunk over the over look.  Time to leave!

Where Montana jolted at overlook!

We drove back to the Rip-off  Campgrounds to write my blog, pack up and head  for the South Rim  but something was really bothering Montana after we’d left  Ava.

Montana is a very happy, puppy-like dog but, after leaving Ava, she wouldn’t eat  or drink or play. At the pop-up, she kept going to Ava’s bed which she’s never  done before.

Also, something “whispered” to me to take my time doing what I needed  to do  and to not rush my process to leave so I didn’t. Woman’s intuition? Whatever it  is, I’ve learned to “listen” to “it”.

As I finished taking down the pop-up around noon-thirty, I noticed that a nut  was missing off a relatively important bolt. I asked a man walking by me  (assuming he worked  at the campground) if he had access to any bolts that  might fit the screw. He  reached in his pocket and pulled out a nut saying he’d  found it yesterday in the  gravel drive. IT FIT! It was MY bolt. Wow. How cool was that?

All morning, I prayed Ava would be encircled by Guardian Angels to protect and  guide her on her journey and that we would have no problems in finding each  other at her journey’s end.

I left the campgrounds for the South Rim and was 30 minutes down the road  when my phone rang. A man explained I didn’t know him but that he’d met  Ava  on the trail and that she was having problems with her knee; she was having to  turn back. She’d now have to climb back up with a bad knee.

As always, I called Mom for prayer reinforcements.

It took me until about 2:30 to get back to the North Rim trailhead where cell  service doesn’t exist. Thinking I’d hear more, I drove a mile or so up to the  overlook armed with the knowledge from the caller that she probably wouldn’t  be at the trailhead until 3:00 or 4:00. So, I figured I’d stay within cell service,  pop-up the camper and get water, food and meds until 3’ish.

As I drove to the overlook, I noticed a hiker dude walking in my direction who  stuck out his thumb. I slammed on my brakes. He might have seen Ava. He tells  me that he’s  done this  rim-to-rim hike for nine years and has never had anyone  pick him up  to take  him that last mile until I did. Good feeling.

I found a shady spot at the overlook area to pull over. I put Montana on her “chain gang” (connect her to a tree with a 20-foot cable) so I could open the pop-up. Right  as I started the manual crank, the cable broke. I looked at it in full  “stunned” silence before kicking into trying to figure out how to keep the now  dangling cable from getting caught in tire hubs. Glad I had some pigtail  bands. I rigged the cable up and prayed for more Guardian Angels. Crazies.

At 3:00, I drove to the trailhead and started asking every hiker coming up the trail if they’d seen my daughter. As there were many foreigners, I got looks of “huh?” but very nice ones, I might add. No one had seen her.

Finally a Forest Ranger pulled up and parked. Good sign. I asked him if he’d  heard anything about my daughter; he answered he was there to pick up Sandy,  a nurse volunteer who’d been recruited to assess Ava’s condition and escorted  her back up.  They should be arriving fairly soon.

Montana and I posted ourselves at the rock stairs at the trailhead so Ava could  see us as she hiked the last few feet. Suddenly, Montana started twitching her  nose in recognition of a familiar smell. I asked her, “Is it Ava?” and she started  wagging her tail like crazy. Montana knew Ava was on her way and so did I.

Sandy appeared at the trailhead alone (heart dropped) and immediately headed  over to talk with the Ranger. It took me 1 second to cross 20 feet to their side.  Sandy assured me Ava was okay and about 100 yards down the trail. She  dropped her gear, called over her shoulder as she trotted back down the trail that  Ava would need to know I was waiting for her. Apparently, Ava worried the  whole time coming back that I was already at the South Rim.

Not only had Ava suffered a knee injury but she’d started having heat exhaustion  as well. She’d finished about 1-1/2 gallons of water and had eaten but knew the  signs as she’s suffered from it since she was a young teen. Ava hadn’t “heard”  the Guardian Angels had already been working hard all  morning  long for  struggling to keep her wits about her during the climb back.

The next person I see was Tom from Indiana, the man I’d met earlier in the  morning at the overlook. He had carried Ava’s backpack up the trail! I don’t  think he realized until that moment he was helping my daughter! You help a  stranger and you just don’t  know how paying it forward will come back to you  and yours. Guardian  Angels.

Donna and Gary Brown came up and hugged me telling me their part in Ava’s  journey back up the canyon. They stayed by her side all the way back. Gary told  me they’d already saved a woman from drowning at the beginning of their  trip. What lovely Guardian Angels they are.

It was during those terrible, pregnant minutes waiting for Ava’s arrival to the top  that I told the Ranger about the cable breaking on my pop-up. After all, he had  to live around the area and know of a shade-tree mechanic who could hook up a  cable. He directed me to go try the Chevron station next to Jacob Lake Inn (www.jacoblake.com 928-643-7232).

After the hugs and tears, Ava and I headed straight for the Chevron. We agreed  we should check out the Inn for a place for the night. Ava went to do that while I  talked with someone at the Chevron where I’d filled-up earlier that day.

I’d already met Daniel at the Chevron. He’d offered to fill up my truck twice  before as a service. Gratis. I sure momentarily confused by the gesture but  pleased to see an old tradition.

I was delighted when I saw Daniel and his co-w0rker, Steven, ready and  willing to help in any way they needed to do just because they’re that kinda’  peeps. Guardian Angels.

Although they’re young and didn’t know what to do in this circumstance, they  were delighted to follow my direction in the repair. It was during this arduous  but simple task that I explained how I was “mechanical” by nature and had  watched my brothers work on their cars as a little kid. But, I continued, it was  during my  divorce from Ava’s dad that I refurbished a 1963 Falcon Futura  convertible my mom said  looked like it needed a crusher instead of an overhaul.  I did body work with a sledge-hammer and a 2″x2″.

Daniel and Steven worked tirelessly and in strange contorted positions fixing the  cable. All three of us were greased up, filthy but happy when the pop-up worked.  Guardian Angles.

Ava had taken Montana to our cabin while all this was going on so she could  shower and rest. Feeling somewhat better, we decided to eat at the lunch  counter at the inn, where we met Brooke. She wanted to know all about Ava’s  adventure and treated us like royalty.

It was over our meal (try the “Grand Bull”) that we looked at pictures from her  hike and glowed in the company of “family”. We love this little place in the  crossroads of Americana. We just don’t like the campgrounds a quarter of a mile  away!

Funny thing is, Gary and Donna had checked that same facility out and  rejected  it. I meant to ask them where they ended up staying as all other camp  facilities  close-by were “dry” (meaning there are no utilities) and the ones  within the  park have been booked a year out.

Really. Who knows what they want to do a year from now or where they want to  do it?

Funny thing about Jacob Lake. There is no lake. Apparently, the man who  owned what I understand to be more of a pond-sized lake wanted to make it  bigger for fishing. When he dug out the hole, he hit limestone and the whole  “lake” flushed like a toilet! The water left is a puddle.

A BIG “THANK YOU” TO OUR GUARDIAN ANGELS!

Happy Trails!

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