Monday, February 1, 2010

Hemmed-in Hollows

Through a thicket of bamboo the trail opened to a large bluff. Bellow the tall sandstone lie a body of water that seemed to flow in from above the pool and then stop, the water then continued its flow beneath the dried river bed. Bronson and I had found an oasis. There were a couple of other campers up on top of the cliff. The lower ends of the cliffs were about fifteen feet tall they gently climbed in height, at the other, a modest sixty feet. From the top the views were beautifully, there were pillowing limestone chunks of rock that made for a great platform to jump from and to plunge into the deep turquoise green pool. At this time of year the water was to cold for swimming however, later we would see one of the other hikers take a dip.
Pumping water, purifying it from the pool, I look up at the valley in front of me, our camp fire amidst a soft blue smoke that the lowering sun illuminates. The evening draws near.
We set our tents up just in time; darkness falls quick deep below the mountain tops. Sitting around the campfire I pass a flask of whiskey to Bronson, he takes a sip and with a retch he scours “smooth”.
I unzip the tent and staggered out to a cloudy morning. It’s to much work to start a fire, despite the fact that I’m cold. Lighting my stove to boil some water seams so much easier, tearing open a package of oat meal I add it to my bright green bowl purchased at Wal-Mart. A teaspoon or two of instant coffee goes into my mug add some water and stir it with my Gerber pocket knife. Setting the knife next to the bowl and the mug frames a perfect picture; I reach for my camera.
Crack!! A loud ear piercing shock wave explodes.
Boom!! A low rumble follows.
“Bronson wake up” I say loudly.
Crack!! “Wake up I yell,” we need to get out of here. We began breaking down are tent and folding and rolling it as quickly as we could. Our packs were unorganized and over stuffed with gear improperly stowed in their dry sacks. We had quickly packed up but not fast enough, the storm let loose and began dumping sheets of wind driven rain, soaking as to the core. We scrambled to get are emergency rain gear on. We were covered in thin plastic shells that did little to protect us from the rain and didn’t really matter, we were all ready drenched. We threw are packs on and moved quickly for cover. We waited a few moments amongst a stand of trees making are self’s small, crouched down we realize how bad things really were. I tried not to let on how miserable this was about to get, I needed to keep Bronson’s spirits up. Crashes of lighting began to move away the rain however did not. The trail turned into a shoot, a miniature river carved into the side of the mountain and carving deeper with every passing minute. Water, small pebbles and sand rushed threw are shoes. This was our trail; it climbed over 1,100 feet in a very short distance. Either side of the trail was over grown with small trees, weeds and thick boot sucking mud; the rocky center of the path proved to be the least resistance, despite the torrent river of erosion that flowed amongst are feet.
Hazy skies and thick wooded hills made it hard to see ahead. Through the haze there emerged a dark softly rounded mountain top, “think god I told myself, the top”.
Bronson too saw this and ask.
“Is that it?” I hesitated. As I climbed closer I noticed another peak just past the first one.
“No” I carefully say.
“When? “ is all Bronson could muster out, but I knew what he was thinking, I was thinking it too.
“Soon” I say. Not having a clue makes me push harder up the mountain, though this is not the case with Bronson, he steadily falls behind. Over each false summit I turn to see his dark silhouette drop behind the horizon. I push forward, stopping on occasion, Bronson catches up, we wait for Bronson to gain his breath.
“Bryan when are we goanna get up this mountain”, Bronson gasps.
“I’m sorry” I confess.
“Blankin stupid mother blankin mountain, I blackin hate this stupid thing” he talks to him self. “I like to blank n put gosh dam dynamite under this son of a bitchin thing and blow it the blank to smithereens “I never heard Bronson swear so much, he was at his wits end, he was pissed. He went on for several minutes, catching his breath every so often, telling me what he would like to do to the mountain. My favorite being the one were a single bulldozer would come in and run the mountain to the ground, or how they ought to have a ski left to take worn out hikers to the top. Soon he’s too worn out to go on complaining and hiking at the same time; reason wins, talk won’t get him to the truck, so he continues walking.
Just then I saw a radio tower or maybe it was a satellite tower what ever it was they don’t put those things down low they put them on mountains, the top of mountains, “dam it” I said a loud, “ that’s were we better be.” I turned to Bronson, but by this time he had drop out of sight I waited. He was in shouting distance; I explained to him that I was going to march forward quickly because the end should be just around the corner, and with that, I arrived at my truck. I stopped at the back and took my pack off. Ripping the plastic rain poncho, I could feel the humidity escape, the rain had stopped. I took my jacket off, soaked, I took my shirt off also soaked, I took my wet shoes and threw them in the back of the truck with all the rest of it. Just then Bronson came up the trail, walked passed me and threw his pack in the back and stood by the passenger door, waiting for me to unlock it. I unlock the doors and with no preparation he stumbled in and sat down. I put my sandals on, stepped in and started the engine. Bronson sat hunched over panting, I handed him a bag of no bake cookies that my mom had made us to take on are hike; seeing how they literally weighted a pound ,we left them behind. He turned and looked up at me with his mouth half opened, panting and the glasses on his face completely fogged over he took them from my hand and devoured them. I laughed very hard and mustered out an “I’m sorry”, he looked at me with a grimaced expression and mumbled “umm.”

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