How We Disappear
I've been thinking a lot lately about this boy who drove to Oregon from Oklahoma and disappeared near Steens Mountain. His bones were found recently by a hunter on the flanks of the mountain near the Alvord Desert -- an area I've been to many times -- and love.
The last person to pump his gas was one of the owners of Fields Station, an tiny outpost in the far southeast corner of Oregon. She remembers how polite he was, and so young and good looking. He was 19, the same age as my oldest son. His name is Dustin Self.
The hunter found him in an aspen thicket. He'd shed his clothes before he died, indicating hypothermia.
Dustin's truck had gone off a ranch road and for some reason, he left it and all his survival gear and walked nine miles away from the main road.
I know what the air smells like out there, how the silence is loud, how the Milky Way shimmers at night.
Nobody knows why he went all that way. Nobody knows a lot of things, but he was suffering from some mental distress.
What I do know is that Steens Mountain draws people who are seeking. I've met so many interesting people on trips there, all of whom have had stories to tell or were on the run or in hiding or looking for connections.
I hope the boy found something there before he succumbed to the cold, some kind of peace among those quaking aspens.
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