Not long after, people came. First it was two guys with a cool dog, possibly some Retriever mix. He made me miss Billy Sue but I knew she was much better off where she was. The guys talked about where they had been, what trail they had taken and we did the same. It was early afternoon and before long the opening in the woods seemed to become a gathering place.
I would've camped there by that waterfall but I was with three boys who never lingered too long so maybe thirty minutes later we were standing, putting on the backpacks, hooking water bottles. Slater had to put on his shoes 'cause he's like his Mom that way. It's hard to keep a pair o' shoes on.
In a matter of moments we were gone it seemed.
Gone to a place which wasn't a place. Well, okay it was a place but a tree had fallen and covered up the place. Although the place was still there, we could not see it. So is a place still a place if no one is there to see it? Yes, I would say so. But maybe not.
Seth by his reading of the map said we should go to the left of the falls, circle around and follow a creek to the river. He was thinking we could be home by tomorrow. We were now in a race to see how fast we could get home 'cause we were already starting to smell.
When we came to a place which was still a place but we couldn't see it, we were stumped. Fooled. Confused. We had no idea where we were but Seth assured us this was the trail.
Okay, Seth, where is the trail? We all asked at different times and sometimes together while pacing in overgrown brush. I began to wonder if we had lost the trail. So I stopped and asked all of them, When was the last time we saw the trail? And I prayed, Thank you, Lord, for light.
I don't know, Seth said. This has got to be the trail. It has to go through here.
Then show us, Seth. Show us this is the trail. Go through there, holler back. Let us know when you find it, Slater urged.
Slater, look at that. I can't go through there. The tree was so thick we could not tell it was a fallen tree. We were so in the thick of the middle of that tree we could not see the full of it. We had no idea we were facing a fallen tree.
Seth attempted to follow a nearby creek to the trail but came back with nothing.
Soon after we were turned around and heading back to the gathering place to see if someone there knew. The trail there and back had not been an easy one, not too clear as far as trails go, and we had to follow our mind's eye, those little breadcrumbs in the brain. We bitched, planned and fought the entire way back.
To the immediate left of the waterfall I did a little give up routine. Not proud of it, just saying I did it. I sat down and pulled out some cigarettes. Lit up in the middle of a green forest 'cause I couldn't believe we were lost and going to have to take the horse trail again. The boys absolutely refused to take the horse trail again.
They wanted to figure out how to take the river route.
Seth, map in hand, sat down next to me. Isaac and Slater ditched us and went back to where the trail had ended. I was what you may call freaking out to the point where it wasn't funny anymore to watch Mom verbalize her anxieties and fears. Not pretty.
As Seth and I sat there I saw a snake at our feet and was not concerned. Then a father and a son walked down a steep incline behind us and said, Hey.
They were beautiful. I swear to this day they had been dropped off by a helicopter just a few feet back but I never heard or saw a helicopter. All I knew is that they smelled good, their clothes looked clean. I don't even think they had a drop of sweat on them. They were so pretty and had two walking sticks each. This was jealousy. They made it look too easy. I simply sat and listened as we asked them questions about where they had been and if they knew a trail that way. One by the river.
No, they had just gotten on at so and so place and were from Birmingham.
They left and I was sure we were lost.
Seth and I sat in silence and discussed futility at times.
We wondered where Isaac and Slater were.
Seth went over what he thought he knew, what the map said, several times.
I swatted at ticks and other various bugs.
Sometime later Slater and Isaac returned with news from up ahead. They had met a group of guys who told them Seth was right. A tree had fallen, covered the trail but we could climb it and eventually see the path.
Once again, celebration ensued. High fives were for everyone.
We were back on the trail, and I began to remember the roughness of our new terrain.
To be continued.....