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Honors Alumnus Brian Gawley Pens Book About
Four energy bars and a bottle of
Gatorade. That's what Honors alumnus
Brian Gawley (Mass Communications and
Journalism '87, minor in History) had with him when he
began his 20.4 mile "psycho-hike" in the Olympic
National Park the afternoon of September 11,
2005. His scant food supply is just
one of the things he might have reconsidered, had he
known how he would spend his next three days.
A longtime marathon runner, Gawley integrated
high-altitude training with his
work. A reporter for Port
Angeles's Peninsula Daily News, he wrote
a weekly feature column, Trip of the
Week. The subject for that
September issue was the national park's Appleton
Pass trail; Gawley's goal was to get up and down
as fast as possible.
He started up the trail at mid-afternoon
Sunday. As time went on and sunset
neared, Gawley reassured himself that he could make it
back to his car before dark. When
the sun went down at 8:30 he still had at least 90
minutes more to hike.
Until you get outside the city, way outside the
city, off the asphalt and away from the buildings and
lights, you don't realize how dark the world
becomes, or can become after the sun goes down.
Especially when you are beneath a canopy of
trees, Gawley says, as he describes his
experience that day.
In the darkness, the chilled hiker was ready to admit
that he was lost. He thought he
could follow the creek below him back to a bridge he
had crossed earlier on the trail, and get back on
course. On his way down the bank he
stumbled and fell head first onto a log.
The impact broke his glasses and left him with a
concussion. He thought it might be
He has hydrocephalus, commonly
called water on the brain, and wears an
implanted shunt to drain away excess fluid; his fall
could have caused serious damage to the Teflon tube
infrastructure of the shunt. This
was the first in a series of obstacles and more
adventures that stood between him and the trail, and,
ultimately, a safe return home.
"Surviving something like this is possible, I'm proof
of that, but not probable," he says.
"I've written newspaper stories since illustrating
In a recently self-published book, Gawley goes into
great detail and fully develops the story about his
three days in the forest, his rescue, and his life
after the ordeal. The book, Lost
65.5 hours in Olympic National Park: My story of
survival , is available at lulu.com, Amazon.com,
and is coming soon to King County
libraries. His website is at
Gawley has worked for daily and weekly newspapers
across Washington State for almost 15
years. At home in Port Angeles, he
is known not only as a reporter, but also as a regular
at the local karaoke club.
Since his rescue, Gawley has opted for a change of
pace, and now works for the Sequim Gazette, a
weekly publication and rival to his former
paper. He continues to hike and run
marathons. He is more careful these
days, however, to plan and pack appropriately.