So Far, yet So Near
from the book, "Petrified Lightning"

Petrified Lightning

So Far, yet So Near

In the year 1970 a geologist with a field crew was conducting a geologic survey in the mountains just outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming. A desert geologist, he was not at home in the mountains, where precipitation was relatively high. It was during the winter, and weather forecasts warned of a heavy snowstorm.

The men were deeply involved in their work when it began to snow. Within a short time a raging blizzard was upon them, and none of them could see more than a few feet in front of themselves. They piled into their jeep, drove it almost immediately into a snowdrift, and had to abandon it. Their sense of direction completely gone, they walked holding on to each other's shoulders to keep together. In a short time the lead man stumbled onto a barbed—wire fence. Knowing that fences go somewhere, the men held on and went in a direction that seemed downhill. It led to the highway, which was probably only a few hundred yards away. Before the men had time to wonder where to go next, a truck picked them up and drove them to Cheyenne. They were lucky.

Scientists know that prolonged exposure to a blizzard will cause giddiness and a lost sense of direction, both of which the geologic crew experienced. A similar incident occurred in Switzerland during the same season that the geologists in Wyoming experienced their winter adventure. A man driving home from work was suddenly caught up in a blinding blizzard. Almost immediately he drove his jeep into a snowdrift and had to abandon it. Within a few steps the man was hopelessly lost. Luck was with him as it had been with his counterparts in Wyoming, because he found shelter by just stumbling onto it. The home he approached belonged to a neighbor, and he was immediately taken inside to the warm fire. When the storm abated he was amazed to find his jeep in a drift just a few yards from the front of his own house.