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Sara—Surviving Sibling

Read an excerpt of "Footprints of Courage."

Sara walked up to the microphone, wearing Chris’s UMN lacrosse jersey with his number—3. She took us on Chris’s road trip with his close friend Luke Fisher from the previous summer by reading pages of his journal: “‘4:04 pm Jenks expressing himself: The world is in my head. We have been blessed with beautiful scenery and great times... Anywho, we are down 3 lacrosse balls for our trip. I launched a pass right over Luke’s head and it went over a huge cliff and into the Badlands. We are en route to the Black Hills, where we hope to find a campsite.

“‘Sunday, August 25th 11:48 am. Sunday morning, I am looking at the legendary Mt. Rushmore. We came in to the Black Hills at 8:00 pm last night, and ended up camping at the Center Lake Campground in Custer State Park. Despite setting up our tent in an hour-long mountain downpour, it was rather relaxing to finally have a camp set up that we could call our own. Once the rain stopped, we built a campfire and prepared a feast consisting of meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions, YUMMY. The Black Hills are BEAUTIFUL, very mountainous and covered with various types of conifers and roaming bands of buffalo or “boofalo,” as I like to call them. I am rather intrigued by these massive animals, and I actually had the pleasure of having three run-ins with them that are worth telling you about. I told Luke that one of my goals on this trip was to touch a boofalo. As dumb as that might sound to you, I was rather excited about it. While traveling in Custer Park, I spied a boofalo only 10 yards from the road. We parked the car and I anxiously hopped out. This was a massive boofalo and my excitement and sense of fearlessness turned into anxiety. I decided to put my fear behind me and I slowly approached the wild beast. When I got within 4 feet of the bull, we both simultaneously scared the bejeebees out of each other, and ran in opposite directions. My first attempt at touching a wild boofalo had failed.

“‘We spotted our second boofalo about 10 miles down the road and were excited because it was a baby boofalo. I got out of the car and headed towards the baby, out in the middle of a field 60 yards in front of me. The baby was acting very strange, and when I got closer, I figured out the tragedy. The baby’s mother was lying dead on the ground and the baby was literally crying while ramming his head into his mother in an attempt to wake her. I was devastated, knowing I could do nothing for him. Deciding this was not the right time to fulfill my goal of touching a boofalo, I said a quick prayer for him, and headed back to the car with a bad feeling inside.

“‘Though my 2nd attempt failed, I had a 3rd encounter with a boofalo. My third attempt was by far the most intense, and I knew I would never forget it for the rest of my life. We pulled onto the side of the road where the King Kong of boofalo was grazing 5 yards off the road. I slowly approached the mammoth boofalo. He greeted me with an enraged look—showing the whites of his eyes. This is where I should have turned back. With adrenaline rushing through my veins, I was ready to run at any moment if things got a little “out of my league.” I was only 3 feet away when the boofalo’s back legs tensed up and he lunged and attempted to thrust his massive head and horns into me. I immediately ran back to the car and decided I was not going to mess with any more boofalo. Attempt #3, FAILED. Mission has been cancelled.

“‘Loving Life—Jenks signing out...”