But mostly I'd say, Man, isn't this beautiful. Oh my gosh, this is so great. Do you feel that, the mist? Oh, I love this place.
They'd stop their play every now and again to talk to me. Do you see that? Up there, I was up there. Did you see where I was?
I'd smile and nod and end with, Amazing. Fantastic. Please be careful.
The first waterfall had not been far from where we left the car, but I fell in love with it, found the remains of a past campfire and suggested we set up camp, play in the last couple of hours of light and sleep in the misty cove. They wouldn't hear of it. At even the suggestion they took off running down the trail with me following, pacing myself.
On the left was a river. We were hiking against the current, and I was trying to make mental notes, little breadcrumbs in the brain. Interesting tree, a massive wall of sheer rock, a bend we had to climb. Each time I passed a place where others had obviously slept I'd holler up ahead, Hey boys, let's stop here.
No, no, we gotta keep going. Slater was emphatic and had easily taken the lead like when he was three. I had taken him to the mall. We had walked out of a store hand in hand, him pulling, wanting desperately to be set free with me holding on for dear life. Until finally I let go out of frustration, and he took off running down the mall. It's not that we had not done that dance before but I had always immediately chased him. That time though I watched him run and thought he'd surely turn around. In some type of fear based teaching I tried to position myself near a column where I could hide in case he looked back for me but he never did. He never even slowed up, and at the last moment, right before he got out of sight I took off running after him.
I think the only reason he stopped at Sipsey is because he'd grown a liking to me through the years. He'd wait at an obstacle where he thought I may need help. At the very least he probably wanted to witness me try it. You know, one of those good laughs things where I narrate my fears and insanity for an audience. It makes him grin, and he had a huge grin on his face when I came upon the cave.
He was standing on top of it, facing me with the smile plastered. This is what we read about, Mom. Remember. We gotta go through that. He pointed down to trail as it disappeared into a dark hole.
Oh Slater, can't we climb it? What about up there? Can't you go down the other side?
Much too dangerous, he said shaking his head the grin growing.
He started climbing down the rocks as I was trying to come up with a good argument against a guy who had already surveyed the land. It was a losing battle, and I knew it.
You're gonna have to take off your backpack and drag it, he said.
Oh my gosh I do remember reading about this. It's so thin. What if I get stuck?
You're not. We've already checked it out.
Okay, Slater but if I get stuck and you leave me I'm gonna be sooo mad at you. I pointed the Mom finger at him and laughed.
We were all having the best time and entered the cave with me going in last behind Seth. Close enough that we could hear each other. I maintained a view of him with my flashlight. Water poured off the wall to my right and every few times I would get a solid footing I'd drag the backpack on the wet floor behind me. At times I would have to turn and profile the light getting closer, tilting my head to the lay of the rock immediately above my head. This was not necessarily a place for anyone who needed any kind of freedom of movement which I have admittedly required at times in my life.
What saved me in the cave was it's short span and Slater's voice up ahead. He was waiting, urging me on and I had to get there.
To be continued....