Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Over the mountain, part six

By now, if you've been following, you know this is about my running away at age 14. If not, please see parts 1-5.

The air chilled and darkness covered the mountain. I shivered, balled up tight in the logs I found. I closed my eyes even tighter and prayed. It didn't get dangerously cold, lucky for me, but enough to be very uncomfortable.

I dozed off at some point but awoke to something scraping against my backpack. Something scratched and even tugged. An animal, and I froze. I didn't turn to see what it was. I didn't move at all. I hoped, since it went for my backpack, and not me, that I would be okay by being absolutely still. Even so, as a a child totally inexperienced in what I was doing, the event was horrifying. I don't think I could have moved if I wanted to.

The scratching stopped and it sounded like the animal moved away toward the water. I still didn't move. I dozed off and woke up with feelings of terror through the night. I cursed myself for what I got myself into and wondered if I would see the sun rise. And if I did get up and run, where would I go? I couldn't see a thing. I could run right off the edge of some other cliff and that wouldn't do at all.

Finally, I opened my eyes to the first rays of morning sun. I made it. Still cold and stiff from laying on the ground, I stretched out and started to move. I lifted up and immediately dodged back down again. On the other side of the log, where I lay my head, about three feet of snake emerged. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought it a good place to hide for the night. I slowly inched away from the log and stood up so I could see it from a distance.

The snake moved sluggishly, thanks to the chill in the morning air. I watched it slowly make it's way all the way out, from its angular head to the set of rattles at the end of it's tail. Yes, I spent the night with a rattlesnake. If it weren't for the cold, I could have been in real trouble. Being on the other side of the log helped too, I'm certain. Perhaps that kept it from seeking the warmth of my body.

I caught my breath and looked around at the ground, remembering my visitor from the night. Tracks in the shape of tiny hands by the water told me a raccoon was what came to see me. But why was it so interested in my backpack? Couldn't have been the bright hunter orange color of it. I put some good distance between myself and the snake so I could check my backpack. I felt hungry and then remembered I had put some food in the pack. No holes, so the raccoon didn't get in.

When I opened up my pack I got a nasty surprise all the same. The mason jars of fruit were broken. Probably from my long fall earlier. Smashed fruit and broken glass were everywhere. I had to dump out my clothes and the glass, everything. Then I had to shake out my clothes and the pack to get as much out as possible.

The pit of my stomach ached as I repacked. I was seriously hungry and had to make my way down the mountain. (part 7 coming soon)

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