The rain began to pelt. I had ignored muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and skin for the day's last ten miles. The very essence of my physicality began to scream. I was crying mad but nobody could tell 'cause the rain cleared my tears as soon as they fell.
I made one last pitiful plea to set up camp. Slater said, No, Mom. We're almost there. And he took off running with Isaac.
Seth and I bowed our heads and began walking.
I started noticing the breadcrumbs. We crossed the creek. Slater and Isaac with huge grins were waiting for us at the first night's campsite. They wanted the keys, and I handed them the camera bag, told them where the keys were and watched them take off down the trail. I immediately regretted the decision and paranoia set in. They're gonna leave us, I thought.
Again the rain let up.
Again I dragged my backpack through the thin cave.
Seth was silent. My inner dialogue was doing crisis intervention as it assured me the boys would not leave, at least I knew where we were, here was the large wall of rock, now we were walking with the river.
It was dark and the trail was slick. Seth's focus helped me, and we began to walk in a determined cadence. This was the won't give up, although I wanted to at a ravine made almost impassable by the rain. Seth and I spent twenty minutes there, talking about it, problem solving, using a sapling and each other as anchors. Walking didn't seem so hard after making it to the other side. The extra weight of all the mud and the soaked packs seemed funny now.
Still we walked.
All remaining was determination.
No words, just forward movement.
We passed the first waterfall we had seen, where the boys had played, where I wanted to set up camp that first night. I said, Not much longer now, Seth. Self assurance spoken. Seth grunted.
When we saw the overpass we began jogging up the hill.
Maybe we hadn't lost light. Maybe the darkness was all in my head. I could see the car, it was where we left it, the boys standing by it smiling. Seth and I started walking towards them and the jar of the pavement became a new sensation. When we got to them Slater and Isaac started explaining how a group of state park rangers had been waiting on them and circled them in vehicles as soon as they got to the car. Obviously they were criminals. They had no perforated envelope attachment on their dashboard. What had they brought back from the wilderness.
Slater said ticks and mud. They could check him if they liked. He explained his mother, the twenty bucks and they may want to pick up some of those trees that had blocked the path. Maybe it was the way he and Isaac looked but they were vindicated by ignorance long before we made it to the car.
Serves you right for leaving us, I said.
We all laughed and got in the car, rolled down the windows because of the smell and headed home.
|The Nikon's Last Word|
Thank you for reading.