It certainly doesn’t always take a metal detector to find a lost ring; sometimes the methodical perseverance of an experienced metal detectorist is all it takes. Such was the case last week in the Central Oregon high desert east of the Cascade mountains.
Maddie sent me a text message on Sunday evening, through theringfinders.com portal. She and her fiance Tyler were visiting family property along the shores of scenic Lake Billy Chinook when a late season snow storm afforded an opportunity for some sledding on the rolling hills adjoining the lake. Shortly after the foray, she discovered her engagement ring was missing…the sledding hill was the likely spot.
I offered to help but unfortunately, Maddie and Tyler were leaving to head back to Portland, and Maddie was uneasy about leaving specific information about the location of probably her most valuable possession, now lost. Understandable, and probably smart, Maddie and Tyler waited out a miserable week in Portland and returned to the family property the following weekend to search. Their search proved unfruitful, and she texted me again for help. Although the window of time we both had was narrow, we managed to find some early morning time the following morning that worked for both of us.
A pre-dawn departure from my house, and one hour and 32 minute drive (with a bit of backtracking when Google maps led me astray) and I was at the family property with the couple. I followed them back down the road a mile or so, to the sledding hill. What must have been a pristine wonderland when snow-covered was now an obvious ATV playland, covered with decades of hillside erosion, beer cans, pull-tabs and bottle caps. The snow had melted, leaving a layer of water-saturated silt, slick and muddy.
After a series of questions about where they had been sledding, I put them to work marking out likely areas…the bottom of the two hills there were sledding on, the location where the car was parked, an area where Maddie had taken off her gloves to take a picture…and started a methodical grid-search patterns of each of those spots, working both north/south and east/west to be sure nothing was missed. Three-plus hours of marching through the dirt and mud produced hundreds of false targets, one Apple iPhone, but no engagement ring. I told the forlorn Maddie that I was reasonably certain that the ring was not in the areas that we had searched (of course it’s always possible that we miss objects, but I had been pretty careful) and that we needed to think about where else it might have been lost.
After consideration, two other locations were possible. First, was the area where she had first noticed it missing. On the drive back they had stopped alongside the road and she noticed it was missing. They had very carefully searched that graveled roadside, to no avail. Also, the driveway and parking area of the house where they had loaded to head out on their sledding adventure. We stopped at the roadside area first, where I spent twenty minutes-or-so, without luck.
We arrived back at the driveway where I started with a litany of the usual questions: At what location(s) had the vehicles been parked? Were you the driver or passenger? Where did you load items into or out of the vehicle? Did you do anything else in the parking lot? After the examination there were two likely spots. An area on the east of the driveway where the Jeep had been parked (and where Maddie remembered taking off her gloves) and an area to the west where they had parked the Jeep to unload upon arrival from Portland.
I grabbed the detector and started swinging the closest area, on the east side of the parking lot, working through still snow-encrusted gravel, when to my right I noticed unusually rapid movement. I couldn’t hear the commentary though my metal detector headphone, but Tyler (who had walked over to examine the previous unsearched area to the west where they had unloaded the Jeep when arriving from Portland) had obviously made a momentous discovery – what metal detectorists call a surface find. Walking briskly toward Maddie, to my left, and holding her treasured engagement ring high for all to see, Tyler had made the discovery of the day, and was able to present his beautiful bride with her engagement ring, a second time.
In Maddie’s eyes Tyler is a hero, and deservedly so. I’m pleased that I was able to assist in assuring that Maddie’s ring is back where it belongs, and another happy ending is able to be recorded on theringfinders.com.
Congratulations Tyler and Maddie. I wish you all the best in your coming nuptials, and hope the future is filled with adventure and excitement…with your rings securely affixed to your fingers.