"They say I'm crazy. That's OK. I'm just curious and determined."
—From Scott Hubbartt's diary, November 2, 2011
How Could He Possibly Make It Out Alive?
It was supposed to be a simple day hike. Scott Hubbartt was a military veteran with years of survival training. Everyone who knew him considered him an expert adventurer.
But Scott’s trek into the treacherous backcountry canyons of the Peruvian Andes turned into a desperate fight to survive after he became hopelessly lost. As his eight-hour hike lengthened into days, Scott faced dehydration, hunger, and exhaustion. And that’s when his true journey began.
Chronicling the failures and miracles of a remarkable physical and spiritual passage, A Short Walk to the Edge of Life is the gripping, true story of a man who had to come to the end of himself before he could find his way home.
And So It Begins
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
—James 1:5–6Wednesday, 2 November 2011, 1950 Hours,
Casa Barrera, Trujillo, Perú
(8º 06’37.05” S, 79º 01’19.36” W—Elevation 130’)
Journal note that I left at my bedside in the Barrera house the day before my departure:
2 Nov. 2011, 1950 hours—Trujillo
On the eve of my long-awaited adventure to Cerro Pingullo in the western Andes. I am searching for the hamlet of Chepén and Las Minas Casualidad, which are mentioned in my wife’s grandfather’s [Felipe’s] will.
As a gringo in Peru, I am an anomaly. A stranger. I have many handicaps—the inability to fluently speak the language not the least of them. Still, I go. There are more intrepid souls, but I figure myself about middle of the road. Still, I go into the unknown in the lower Altiplano of the middle-western Andes. My destination tomorrow is Salpo. From there I hope to explore Carabamba and the hamlet of Chepén. In a day or two I will attempt the descent to Poroto.
Felipe did it, who knows how many times. I want to tell my grandchildren about his exploits from firsthand experience.
They say I’m crazy. That’s OK. I’m just curious and determined.
I’m just a regular guy. I balance bills, pay a mortgage, and try to be the best father I can be to my three grown daughters as well as an acceptable husband to the perfect wife. But in a nutshell, during a week of November 2011, I messed up big time.
This is my story.
It all started when I went for a walk in the Peruvian puna, which some call the Altiplano and others the Alto Pampa. It’s the high desert region of the Andes mountains characterized by dry, barren, windswept, and rocky terrain—where only the hardiest of living things can exist. It was supposed to be an eight- to ten-mile hike along what I expected
would be an established, easy-to-follow trail. Instead, I became hopelessly lost and almost died.
After my fifteen visits to Peru, many people regarded me as a kind of expert on travel in that country. I was often complimented on my tales about my adventures in this wonderful land, which is twice the size of Texas. But that’s the danger of flattery: over time you start to believe it. It has been many months since my little expedition, and I am still
trying to fully appreciate the gift I was given—more than life itself, which we too often take for granted. I now know that God has at least two plans for my life: One is that I was supposed to survive in that desert. Second, I am to share my story with anyone who will listen.
Excerpted from A Short Walk to the Edge of Life by Scott Hubbartt Col. Tom Blase, Retired USAF Chaplain. Copyright © 2014 by Scott Hubbartt Col. Tom Blase, Retired USAF Chaplain. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.