by Matthew Floro
The bus slowly chugged its way through the verdant landscape of the Adirondack mountain ranges. I looked down at my clean polo and khaki trousers not really sure what to expect for the next two weeks. Around me the brothers kept such a high and festive spirit; some of the brothers even began to sing. Dumbfounded to see such enthusiasm for an excursion to a 5,000-foot mountain, we drew nearer to our destination, Mount Giant. Hiking mountains did not exactly fit my idea of “vacation.”
After thirty minutes of snaking roadways and back roads, the bus veered towards an abandoned dust road where a lone Subaru hatchback spangled with several dozen bumper stickers of various sorts was stalling. With no sign of other civilization in sight, panic struck me…would the next fifteen days consist of 15-mile mountain trails? I resolved to remain seated right where I was for the rest of the day. The brothers began to notice and wanted to help, but their encouraging words and teasing antics did not soak in no matter how much the brothers tried: I did not want to waste my vacation time hiking mountains every day.
The bus left and along with it my dwindling hopes for a better and more comfortable vacation. Our team took the rear as the others darted straight away for the trail. Sullen and moody, I dragged my feet the whole way up even as the brothers on my team kept all the more encouraging me, motivating me. For a while this did help me to move onward with a little optimism, right when one of the brothers suggested that we climb the second and highest peak—only some 2 to 3 miles away. Despite my adamant objections, our team captain agreed to go up, quickly assuring us that we would have enough time, even if we had take a detour to return to the bus through another trail.
Once we finally made it at the peak, we only had twenty seconds to marvel at the beautiful view of the Adirondack wilderness before we had to return. By that time, we had only 30 minutes left before the bus would leave. “Quick, if we want to make it on time we will have to run,” one brother remarked.
That was the last word I was able to utter that day.
When we reached the bottom of the last stretch I thought that we had finally arrived where all the brothers were going to meet. “Great!” said our captain, “Now only five more miles north to run to get to the bus with only fifteen minutes before it leaves!” He wasn’t kidding. We needed to keep going. We kept on running and running…soon ten minutes turned into twenty minutes.
No, we were not going to make it in time after all. Perhaps the others waited too long at the parking lot and had already left us…Would we be ready to survive the night in the wilderness? My imagination ran rampant and considered the endless possibilities. I had just about given up hope when suddenly at the end of the winding road headlights appeared. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Once aboard the bus, my despair softened into relief as we drove back. I looked down on my clothes; my polo and khakis were absolutely soaked and soiled. This didn’t bother me too much, for the soothing sensation of sitting down removed any worries or troubles. It was funny how the joy of being alive made me forget about the pain of hiking mountains.
Photo Credit: Paulbalegend