The Bataan Death March

Big Basin State Park, California - May 17, 1997

The premise was simple but enticing: we'd break the tired tradition of having darkfriend socials over lunch at crappy Asian restaurants whose sole reason for survival was their convenient location next to trendy sci-fi bookstores, and instead go for a romp in the Great Outdoors. Hawk and I selected Big Basin State Park near Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz mountains for our romping ground. It's not too far away, but with its lush natural beauty it might as well be on a different planet than the crowded, urbanized, smog-covered Bay Area.

Since I'm writing this summary many months after the event itself, I don't clearly remember who was there. Definites were Bill Garrett (me), Hawk, Rick Moen, Rick Moen's Friend Whom I Think Was Named "Dream", Ken Kofman, Don Harlow, and Esther Harlow. People who might have been there but whom I forget are Drew Gillmore and Andrea Lynn Leistra. We grouped up at my place and headed over the hills to Boulder Creek. Then, the suffering began.

I didn't expect to have such problems, but events conspired against us. Yes, us. Ken and I were the sick and weak members of the herd on this hike. I had just gotten over -- or, more precisely, thought I had just gotten over -- a nasty stomach virus. Ken was having problems with bronchitis. The fact that the weather was not a seasonably mild 72 degrees, but instead was an unseasonably hot 92 degrees, didn't exactly help.

Ken and I were the rear guard on our hike back up from the Berry Creek falls. Everyone else wanted to go fast, because they all had places they wanted to be that evening. Ken just wanted to keep from barfing up a lung, and I just wanted to keep from barfing. By the time we got back to our cars, about an hour after the frontrunners, we were battling not only churning stomachs and heaving lungs, but also dehydration (thanks to the unexpectedly hot weather).

The day ended on a good note, at least. Nobody died on the march, and we didn't have to fight outnumbered against the enemy at the end. Instead, we piled into cars, drove back over the moutain, and had dinner together at a good Mexican restaurant.

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Bill Garrett