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Story Last modified at 9:31 a.m. on Thursday, June 23, 2011

Good Samaritans not just around, they abound
Mountain Echos

By Frank E. Baker

The telephone rang recently and a guy was asking if I'd lost my wallet. It was news to me, and then I quickly realized it was gone. The caller said he'd found it on Harp Mountain in South Fork. A neighbor and I had climbed up there the day before. The Good Samaritan gave me his address, which isn't far from my house, and I quickly drove over to pick it up. A quick inspection of the wallet revealed that all of the cash and credit cards were there. I quickly peeled out $30 and gave it to the young man as a reward, but he refused to take it. I insisted, telling him that he could take his girlfriend to the movies. Is $30 enough for the movies these days?

Two days later while biking on the Eklutna Lakeside trail, I got a flat tire about Mile 7.

I pulled out my pump and soon learned that it was not working. I then looked in my carrier and found that I didn't have a spare inner tube. I sent my friend ahead to continue the bike ride while I began the long walk back to the parking lot. I borrowed a couple's pump and it allowed me to ride about half a mile before the tire was again deflated. Even though I felt like a complete basket case, I tried to look like someone who knew what he was doing as I wheeled the bike along the trail.

After awhile a guy and his wife offered to help, insisting that they repair my tire. He made the repair and after thanking him profusely, I was once more on my way. But after about a half a mile, the tire deflated again and it was back to walking. "That doesn't matter," I thought to myself. "They were really nice about helping."

Yet another rider offered to give me a spare inner tube, but by this time I was fed up with biking and after thanking him profusely, walked the bike the rest of the way. My friend took a leisurely ride to Mile 12 and back, arriving at the parking lot only 10 minutes after me.

A few years ago I received a telephone call from a guy who had found my cell phone near Mount Gordon Lyon, and gave me instructions on how to get to his house, also in Eagle River.

If someone followed me around they could open a small surplus store. Other lost items over the past five years include prescription sun glasses and clear glasses, collapsible ski poles, gloves and a hat. These weren't returned—the Good Samaritans just can't keep up with me.

A day after the flat tire while having some difficulty unloading a snow blower from the back of my pickup truck, a stranger offered to help. I thanked him profusely.

Either I really look like someone who needs help, or there are just a lot of really nice folks out there who are willing to land a hand. It's probably a combination of both.

Whatever the case, Good Samaritans are all over the place. And there is no doubt that these experiences have helped me become one of them. Last winter I pulled three people out of the ditch with my four-wheel drive pickup, and yes, they thanked me profusely.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, June 23, 2011.