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059 Case of the Missing Wallet 2009-03-20

a wallet in the leaves

On our recent trip to Big South Fork, my wife lost her wallet. Actually it was a small pouch where she kept her keys, driver’s license, a credit card, bank card, and insurance cards.

We had walked the John Muir Trail to Divide Road, then south on the road until we turned off at Twin Arches Road. At the trailhead we stopped to use the facilities and transfer the trash from our packs to the trash receptacles. We still had a mile or so to walk and it was already dusk, so I impatiently encouraged her to hurry. I did not want to be finding and setting up camp after dark.

Quickly she emptied the trash from her pack and rejoined me for the descent to Charit Creek. We found a campsite and began our chores: filtering water, setting up the tent, cooking dinner, etc.

Early the next morning my wife asked if I seen her wallet? I had not. She then went on to tell me that she was thought that she lost it sometime the day before. We began discussing strategies.

One. We unpacked everything from her pack and mine looking. It was not hiding anywhere. I kept asking if there was a chance she let it in the car, but she was sure she brought the wallet with her.

Two. She thought their was an outside chance that she dropped it in the trash at the trailhead we had just passed. She informed me that I had been rushing her and that she could have thrown it away by mistake. It was only a mile back to the trailhead, so I suggested one of us walk back to the trash cans just to see. I asked again about leaving the wallet in the car, but, no, was the answer. She wanted to go back to the trailhead to check on the wallet and practically ran all the way there. I volunteered to go, but she she insisted she needed to go and in fact would have it no other way. A little over an hour later she was back in camp without her wallet.

Three. We looked on the map at the other places we had stopped along the trail. There were only a handful but she decided not to try anymore. We would report it to the Park office when we returned to our car. The most popular topic on the hike that day was where her wallet could be hiding. I still thought there was a good chance it was in the car.

Four. On returning to the car we did a through search for her wallet. We looked in our packs and in the car. I still thought there could be an outside chance that the wallet was still hiding someplace in the car and we just didn’t see it.

Five. She reported the lost wallet to Park headquarters and completed the necessary paperwork. If she lost it in the Park the chances were probably close to nil that it would ever be found, let alone returned.

Six. We drove home and then immediately cleaned and restored our gear. We searched hard but still no wallet. Finally we turned out attention to the car and searched through every nook and cranny. I could not believe, it was not there.

Seven. My wife called, cancelled, and reordered all the important documents from her wallet. It was a sad day. She actually knew her driver’s license number and her credit card number. Wow.

Eight. I was outside working later that day and when I came back in the house my wife told me the Park had called and a group had found her wallet! They would call later that day.

Nine. Sure enough a church group was camping in the same area we had camped. Before leaving the trailhead they found her wallet under a picnic table, then they called out her name to strangers they met along the trail trying to locate my wife. We were driving home at that time, unfortunately.

Ten. One of the leaders of the group brought the wallet to Nashville the next day and my wife retrieved it that afternoon.

The wallet was not in the car. It was found and returned by good people. We should all learn from them. It is a mighty good feeling to live in a world of filled with good people. Thanks!

Happy trails.


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