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Short Stream of Consciousness III.

Boots? . . . Check.

Backpack? . . . Check.

Fedora? . . . Check.

Hiking partners? . . . Hiking partners? . . . Bueller?

Aw, crap. They already left.

Only one trail from here, huh? I can't be far behind. Tally ho!

Ha, mud! Never trust a man with clean boots, I always say. Can't go around it, can't go over it, can't go under it. . . gotta go through it!

Oooooohhhhh. . . That was a satisfying <i>squish</i>

Heh, mud up to my ankles, and still the waterproofing holds. There's nothing like a good pair of boots.

check the map again. . . to the left. They're likely to stay to the right. I'll either meet 'em or beat 'em if they're on this trail.

Oh, wait.

I might be on the wrong trail.

There are two out of the parking lot. How did I miss that before?

Well, this is the longest. Knowing Kevin, he'd bring as many untrainined kids on as long a hike as possible. They'd be here.

To the left again.

There's that power walker again. I hope she doesn't think I'm trying to show her up by moving this fast.

She keepds looking, though. It's gotta be the noise I'm making. <i>Ka-thunk, ka-thunk</i> as the weights hit my back. Man, I wish I'd managed to actually pack this backpack instead of just throwing dumbbells into an empty pack and adding water. How much am I carrying?

15 pounds time two dumbbells . . . 30 lbs.

2 quarts of water at four pounds each . . . 8 lbs.

throw in 2 pounds for the pack itself . . .

Forty pounds?!

Shit, I'm flyin'!

Another left. . . more like straight. That trail on my right came up damn fast. Ignore the loop when it comes up again. Go straight. . . left.

Why do they make maps like this? I mean, it's true that not everyone needs a topo map or an accurate accounting of distance. Most people just need a general line to show them where to go with major intersections. But then, what happens when they get lost? You can't orient a map like this.

Orienteering should be a course taught in grade school, and should be included on the SAT.

Okay, at this speed, I should see them if they're on this trail. I don't. They aren't here.

Hey . . . left here, and I can jump onto the other trail . . . Gods, I hope the kids don't see me do this.

Man, I hate trail jumping. I should go back the way I came. Not as fast, but better all around.

New trail, same object: catch 'em or meet 'em.


Overtaken two, they haven't seen anyone else with a pack. Well, that means they're still ahead of me, if they're here at all.

Pass an overlook, no time to stop.

Hey, this is much nicer to walk. Beautiful sceneery, a tad of it up and down . . . I could get used to this, even if the trail is paved.

I wonder if those two women are bothered by me being so constantly behind them. I know my pack is loud. They keep looking back at me.

Hah! They speed up downhill. I have weight on my side, though!

Gained a bit on them, but they're moving at about my speed. Is it choice, or is it because I'm moving them?

Ha! They slowed down on the uphill. I don't. Bye-bye, ladies!

Faster pace. I'm over half way on this trail. Passed the road a while back.

Hey, there's a idea . . . They could have gone down that trail! It's not short, and I remember it being pretty decent.

I'll walk down to where the fork is. If I don't see them, I'll head home. That'll make seven miles.

Down I go.

"I got some . . ."

"I got some . . . feet?"

What am I missing?

"I got a school boy heart, a novelist's eye, stout sailor's legs and a license to fly. . ."

Ah! "I got nomad feet, and some wanderin' toes!"

I need surf lessons.

Corner. . . There's someone.

"Seen any kids with backpacks?"

She hasn't. Damn. Well, down to the fork. . .

Hey, there's one.

There's two.

There's a bunch.

A few adults. . .

There's Kevin.

Good to see the Troop again.

Back to the car with them. Thought I'd died indeed!

There's the lot. What? We're missing two boys?

Awww. . . Shit!

Back down the trails.



No answer.

A bat flies low.



Nothing returns.

Silent sunset.



No sound in the trees.

Darkness comes.



Still nothing. I head back to home base, looking for rangers.



Ahead there's a couple out for a stroll. "Have you seen them?"

The couple has not.



Another couple offers to help search.

"Dark pants, one is wearing blue and one black. They have backpacks on. One of the packs is black. They're both wearing Boy Scout shirts. They got ahead of the group and took a wrong turn."

Into the woods again . . . A prayer:

Guide the children
Protect them
Bring them to us
That we may bring them home.

Laughter ahead . . . I run.


Back to the cars.

Back home.

Safe, sounds, and feeling freer than any person has the right to feel.


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