Sunday, May 30, 2010
Over the mountain, part 3
So far, I've told you about two small obstacles I overcame when I ran away from home over a mountain at age 14. If you missed those, go back and check out parts one and two.
Making it over that waterfall had me no closer to climbing out of the ravine the creek ran down the mountain in. For that matter, the path couldn't be seen anymore above me. It had wound off another direction. So I followed the water even further in a steady rise. There were two more small water falls I had to climb over, but they were a snap compared to the first. It was warming up now but I had no idea what time it was. I didn't have a watch on. I managed to leave that behind. Always have to forget something right?
So I can only tell you that I followed that creek for long time. When I finally had to stop, the creek ended abruptly and high above me, into the mountain itself. As if that weren't bad enough, to my right stood a high vertical wall of earth, taller than a two story house. To my left and up to the point the creek vanished, an even taller slope of broken rocks and gravel. It made the slope I slid down earlier seem puny though every bit as steep. I wondered if I was trapped, right then and there, but knew I couldn't just sit there.
I climbed up a short embankment to get onto the slide of rocks. I found that, if I kicked my feet in hard and jammed the stick into the ground the same, I could slowly climb up. The rocks were all shapes and sizes, from gravel tiny to fist sized. As I slowly lumbered upward, any I jarred loose, tumbled down into the creek behind me. Every foot upward took painstaking measure and sharp rocks got into my shoes. Three fourths of the way up I could see a boulder, bigger than two of me, wedged into the slide. I set that as a goal, a place I could rest before making it the rest of the way up. I struggled and sweat dripped into my eyes, but I kept going until I reached that boulder. I sat on it with a sigh of relief and looked down.
The creek looked so small and far away and I didn't fully realize just how steep this thing really was. As I pondered that the rock I sat on moved. Apparently, my extra weight served enough to loosen it from the slide. It threatened to roll right over top of me. With quick wits I didn't know I had I jumped to my left and jammed my hands hard into the dust and rocks in a desperate bid to stay put. I looked over my shoulder and watched the huge rock pound its way downward. It sent smaller rocks flying high into the air and created a wide cloud of tan dust. It hit the bottom with an echoing crash.
My heart pounded in my throat and I surveyed myself for damage and losses. Amazingly, my little blue suitcase and hiking stick were up against my knees. I pulled out one of my hands to grab the stick. In that sharp gravel I expected to pull out cut and bleeding hands. To my surprise, not one cut adorned my fingers. I was completely unharmed. I grabbed up suitcase and stick and went back to my method of climbing until I reached the top.
At the top, a new bank of earth stretched out in an overhang with small trees growing from it. I had to reach up and over with my little suitcase and put it past one of the small trees. Next I reached to pull myself up and over. I did this, by putting my stick behind and across a pair of the trees like a pullup bar. Finally, with great effort, I pulled myself out of the ravine onto the side of the mountain more formal. Landscape like a friendly hillside stretched out before me. I took one last look down the slide of rocks and knew I barely escaped with life and limb.
You might think such a realization would make me find a way to get back down that mountain and give up this mad idea. But the terrain ahead looked so much friendlier. I couldn't get into any more trouble like that could I? I'll tell you in part four.