We got up early, knowing we had a big day ahead. Two ford’s, four mountains and a road to get to, quite the day. Flailing was gone and out the door first thing. Earthling and I hiked together for a change and talked all the way to the first river fording. She had been fighting some of her own thoughts the day before and I listened as she vetoed and worked through her emotions. Reaching the first fording we saw Flailing on the other side, arranging our gear we grabbed the rope and pulled tight into the water. The rope taunt just a bit too high for me made it tricky to cross. If I let go by accident in the middle the rope would spring out of my reach and I took care to hold tight. Eventually sliding my hands instead of reaching ahead.
The knee deep water rushed past me as I moved quickly and steadily across. Most hikers who drown end up having a foot caught and get pulled under, foot placement is key, each step must be tested before committing. The rope too high for Earthling needed to be held down as she crossed. Reaching the other side, Flailing was off again and the two of pondered his motives for not talking to either of us. The only thing I could come up with wax he was in a good mood, she thought he might be angry.
We talked on this all the way to the road before the second fording. Here I called kim and confirmed our plans and pushed towards the river. Flailing wax no where to be found. Where was he, if he wasn’t here, he had to be at the shelter I thought. The two of us crossed quickly and headed to the shelter. He had to be there taking lunch. No Flailing in sight we checked he log, it was not looking good, he ad missed the checkpoint and here was no sign of him. We had to eat, taking our lunch and thinking on what to do. My conclusion was he was alright and just pushed on in a good mood. Earthling on the other hand was worried. We had but one recourse for the day, to push on until we found him. That meant climbing four mountains and doing 23 miles at the least.
I chalked it up, to impetuous youth, the feeling of being invincible. Everyone was like that in there 20s and at at 18. I know I was and I had no thoughts that I could be hurt or lost. The facts were we only had one days worth of food and no one cell phone to get an emergency call out. If anything happened to anyone of us including Kim, the car would not be at the road and he if he was alright would be screwed. The trail and population up here wasn’t anything like the south, where there were plenty of roads and people. There were two roads in thirty miles and help would be hours away not minutes. Earthling feed he worse as we heard the sounds of a helicopter pass by every so often.
I kept my worries for the shelter, until then her as nothing we could do. Fording a river solo just wasn’t smart and I was definitely guilty of that. As dark came I began to get angry. I was forced to hike in the night now with a dead headlamp. Why was it dead, he had used it the past week every night reading and killed the batteies. Now an important piece of my equipment was useless as we climbed down the last mountain. We finally reached the last shelter around nine and found him dead asleep inside. Reaching out and grabbing his bag, I shook him awake and told him to get up as I cursed at him. Like a dear in headlights he fell back asleep with no memory of the night.
He next morning we had four miles to do to the car. Looking outside we noticed it and snowed and I was somewhat happy to see that. Still passed at Flailing but it was nice to have snow. On he way down to the car, we talked and discussed the dangers of what had occurred. Coming to a conclusion we buried our hatched and pushed to the road as a group. The slick snow and rain made of trek dangerous as we came down the rock scrambles. I could have been more excited to see the van with Kim dad asleep inside. Shaking the car she awoke confused and fell back asleep. Shaking it again, she awoke and looked around for us. Happy to see us she climbed to of he sleeping bag and welcomed us with food and drinks. To town we went, to get dry, to catch up and of course to eat.