We were losing light fast like when the sun goes down in Perdido. Campers at Sipsey are a quiet group, focused and the few we passed were collecting wood. One lady asked us a question, I don't remember what it was but I do remember I told her we didn't know what the hell we were doing. That was all.
I kept urging the boys to stop. Every circular clearing was scouted by me to be the very best spot. I kept telling the boys, This is it. This is the very best spot. Do you know how dark it's going to get? We have to set up camp.
Slater says just a little further, I'd be notified by either Isaac or Seth.
Sometimes Slater would even grace me with an answer, Seth says from the looks on the map we need to get closer to crossing the river so when we wake up in the morning we can cross it early.
Does Seth even know how to read a map, Slater?
We both laughed 'cause it was obvious that Seth was our best chance in there or out of there. He wanted the job and of the four of us he was the only one with a United States Marine Corp cap. Both his parents were Marines. His choice of read was a history book. Seth was only sixteen years old but he had a seriousness that made him seem like the oldest in the group. Even today, whenever I see Seth I punch him, give him a huge shaking bear hug and rub his head. He hates that but enjoys the verbal sparring it initiates. Seth and I have fantastic political discussions. He is quite learned, that boy.
Anyway, he had the map and the group had already decided he was the guy for the job so Slater made an appropriate argument, and I conceded.
We headed on, crossed a pretty big stream, down the bank and up the other. I had a walking stick, and it was helpful.
Only about two or three miles later did we set up shop under the small, focused, direct light of flashlights in a clearing higher than the trail in case of rain. One tent with three boys and one tent coffin for me. Everyone got focused. Isaac and Seth began gathering wood, I took everyone's water bottles down to the river with the one made to sterilize. It was a slow process and I kept trying to hear if there were any wild animals but I could barely hear anything over the rush of the river.
When I got back the boys were already working on the fire. It was beautiful. It was us doing this.
The first night held stories, beef jerky, pistachios, discussions of the next day's plans, plenty of bug spray and a decision to turn in early for an early rising. Getting out before the heat came in. Seth had said something about a horse trail.
To be continued.......
Happy Birthday to a woman who shows me every day how beautiful it is to live and to love and to give of yourself and to give for yourself. A woman who shows me what aging is, and it is exquisite, wise and caring. It is tough. It is fragile. It is needing and knowing. I don't know how to say thank you to you for showing me that so I just love you so much. One day I'll be able to put a picture here you'll be proud of. I promise.