The Test Of Trees

Drove far past where the roads turned to gravel, then dirt. Parked by a tall tree with bright leaves, flanked by a twisted spruce with dead red needles. Put one mountain peak at my back, a beckoning finger raised, and mark another in the distance. A sheer rock face at the end of a curving ridge, like soup pouring over the edge of a spoon.

(I’m already thinking of food.)

It takes me the rest of the day to reach the foot of the mountain face. Had to cross one small stream, trying to forget about it. Any foreknowledge of the area is against the rules.

I gather some wood, start a small fire (the easy way) and get some water boiling in a metal pot. Some goes in a foil pouch labelled “Chicken Enchillada”, the rest gets mixed with hot chocolate powder. I savor the taste of spice and sweet, eating and drinking at a pace to hold the memories on my tongue. I sleep in a tunnel of blue nylon held up by army surplus paracord. Tonight I am warm, dry, and full.

I don’t sleep.

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