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The Hike up Gumboot Mountain
 
 
The silver moon lit the forest scenery with a dull glow, as the wild flame of an orange fire crackled into the still of the night and illuminated the trees and brush. A chill flurry of fresh wind blew through the hued autumn leaves of the trees, which made it nearly impossible to hear the quite rustle in the thick of the trees.
We sat around the fire, still and quite, and raised our heads to investigate the sudden crack of a branch, when six green glowing eyes of a pack of coyotes seemed to jumped out of the dark of the brush like a candle in the night, they slowly moved and seemed to grow to an enormous size—closer, closer: gnarling their teeth and howling so loud we had to cover our ears. So close, eventually the smell of wet fur and foul breathe drowned the mountain air. We began to yell and sweat, beads rolled down the bumps of our forehead, the dog’s hair on their back rose to a peak like mountain, and the reflection of the men standing side by side could be seen in the wild dog’s deep emotionless eyes. He reached for his side, he pulled out his six-gun, stretched out his arm, put the muzzle in between one of the dog’s eyes, pulled the hammer back, and fired a round and with a deafening explosion, the dog lay bloody, still, and dead, though I could still see it’s heart pumping for a short time until it calmly stopped. Thankfully the other dogs jumped back, put their tales between their legs and whimpered back to the forest. Luckily, he had his gun, unlike last time…
“Last time? What last time Grand Daddy Courtney? I would bet your thinking well, that was quite the adventure as Susie would say: the man with a six gun, he was one of the boldest friends I’ve ever had, may he rest in peace, along with Mary and Rhonda Sue- semi-great men I would always think of compared to me. ”Said Courtney out loud as he sat in his bed and told his grandson, Randy may, a story of his past--a tradition they had since his grand son was 3.
“Actually, I wasn’t, I want to go home, this sucks, you smell and I’m getting to old for this.” Explained Randy-May a dangerously under weight child of 9.
“Shut up kid, and sit down you smelly stinker, you’re a noob! Chillins’ these days aint got no respect fo dare eldas’ fo show!Sheezle dizzle!” Exclaimed Courteny in rage, as he couldn’t help but think how saddened he was that his grandson was getting to old for him, so, in his time of solemn despair, he calmed down, and as fast as a thunder bolt rushes to the ground, the entire story replayed in his head in almost living color it seemed…
“Sit and listen to this story you punk…So, this is how it begins, this story began in the summer of ’45 it was Susie’s 21st birthday and we were having a slumber party at Susie’s house and just about to wage a pillow fight, we stood in a line in his room, Susie and I against Mary and R Sue, as we called Rhonda Sue. Any how, we where standing face to face, our eye’s locked and studied our foe to determine our attack, I clinched my fist and grabbed my pillow, my knuckles turning white: I was ready for battle.
Oh, incidentally, I was the champion pillow fighter, with my custom Hello Kitty pillow! It was a flawless weapon, well it was after I modified it with rocks and hidden razor blades!”
“Grand Daddy, you’re a bozo.” Remarked Randy-May under his panting breath.
“What was that?” Asked Courtney after swinging his clinched hands back and forth violently as if he was really back 80 years ago in his pillow fight.
“Nothing!” Quickly replied Randy May as he almost fainted from talking too much.
“Well then, shut up if you have nothing to say.
So! I raised my hand to send a “cushioneny” blow to the face of R Sue, he shrieked through a sob: “No! Mercy! Mercy! Show Mercy! My body wasn’t made to under go this kind of pain!”
“We all shun you R Sue, what a wimp! Let’s go with plan B and divert to Truth and Dare.” Replied Mary.
“So we all “truthed” each other for about two hours because we had of course strict rules about daring each other because only Susie was tough enough to follow out on a dare so we just basically outlawed daring, but, Susie, being the man he was, he had to dare us all… he said it exactly like this ‘I dare us all to hike to the top of Gum Boot Mountain!’ he said squinting his eyes and staring at us all with a frightful gleam.
“We can’t do that! You know why it’s called that right?
“No” We said in agreement.
“Well back 60 years ago the town was having it’s annual race hike up Gum Boot and it just so happened that that day was the day of the worst snow storm ever recorded on Gum Boot even to this day, some hikers near to death themselves found a skeleton on the trail with only the gums of his boots left thus naming it “Gumboot”. And aside from that now the whole mountain is haunted by him and beats people up with a stick!” Complained Mary.
“So what, you guys afraid or something?” Asked Susie, and we all looked at each other and replied: “Nah, I’m game.” simultaneously.
“The next day, a Tuesday, looked promising. No clouds, a shining sun, singing birds, and a good night sleep at Susie’s slumber party.
I gave a big long kiss to my wife, and Susie did the same to his wife, R Sue set the world record for longest kiss that day to his wife in attempt to get out of this hike, and Mary’s wife didn’t let him kiss her because he forgot his toothbrush at Susie’s and eat eggs that morning, but they still hugged smiled at each other on and off.But although we were sad to leave them behind, we anxiously hopped on our recently pimped out with tassels big wheel tricycles as a kid would, peeled out and drove down the road as our many other friends cheered us on and threw us daisies and pretty princess lip balm, and then, we were there, the infamous trail up Gumboot Mountain. We all starred into the trail as if we were in a trance, the sound of cheers to far behind to hear but still ringing through our minds. Our head told us to go back but our body seemed to be begging to go up. Can you guess which one we did?
“Duh Grand daddy, you freaking dork, of course you did, what kind of nooby story would this be if you didn’t? Concluded Randy May.
“Stupid kids! Any ways, my young ill minded son, you’re right! We started up the trail seemingly unconsciously; the gravel path crunched beneath our rubber Hello Kitty boots.
As we walked and walked, the burning pain in my legs was over powered by the desire to see the top, oh the glorious peek spoken of by the victorious who had made it up so long ago, which we all had agreed had to of resembled the candy land board which we had played just last night.
But, like an interrupting cow, all our thoughts of the peek of the mountain seemed to evanesce out of our minds from the sound of a near by but faint huffing and snorting sound that vaguely resembled that of a laugh. We quickly looked at the narrow dirt path and two small men standing side–to-side that had to be a mere 12 inches stood right in the middle.
“Well hi, I’m Rick, this is Rick you see.” He explained in a rather raspy voice as he removed his pointed red knitted hat exposing his thin gray hair fixed in a comb over. “Well hello.” Susie replied after stepping in front of the group.
“Well, we haven’t seen you tall two legged creatures for a while were you been you see? Oh, I suppose you’re wondering what we are, it’s not every day you see a 12 inch man you see! At least, not any more! We are the natives of this mountain, but have no name you see. None of us lives long enough to even come up with a name, for our life span is not to long, we only live for a day, and a morning if you’re a fast runner you see!”
“This is quite exciting! ”Decided R Sue after stepping out from behind me.
“Aaaawww shucks, it couldn’t be that grea—oh no, you see.” A screech erupted through the evening woods seeming to shatter the gentle sway of the trees and the calm woods.
“What is it?” Asked Mary.
“I guess you could say it’s the reaper, those are why are life is so short, we are their only food you see.” Explained Rick as he bit his jaw to keep from crying even though the trail of a bitter tear dolefully slid down his red cheek and into his gray shaggy beard, just looking at him I could guess what he felt like, he’s eyes watered up like a lake, his lip jiggled like a tambourine, and he’s hands were sweating like a hose spouts water— the feeling of death was near. And it was, for them, but he just stood there. And alas, it was here, their death was here, you could tell by the rustle of the grass, and the the clinching of his eye lids as he braised for this, and, like an explosion, their ending was here—like an eruption, the ghastly beast shown it’s self! But it wasn’t exactly what we where anticipating. After all, caterpillars, even to a 12 inch man do not seem to be much of a threat, but what ever it was that would cause such fear to impend on a soul from a caterpillar was unknown.
Rick moved only his eye’s to see the yellow beast crawling along. Rick and Rick jumped as they shrieked and cried and fell quickly on the ground, dead, there eyes still opened and could still see their solemn tears still bonded with in there aghast eyes, and their bodies still and lifeless, but their red hat’s which were still floating hit the ground and puffed into a pile of leaves and that glutton of a caterpillar walked up onto them and began to eat them.
“That’s not exactly what I was expecting…”Remarked R Sue with “warm pants” should I say, but needless to say we kept going.
As the Sun went down, we went up.
After a hard two miles of walking night fell. The dark of the forest was not the dark of the city, it was thicker, deeper, it felt as if you could grab the darkness. She teased us like a devil, hiding our path, and blinding our sight, we looked to the moon to find a light, a guide even, but the moon, a reflection of sun even seemed to shed no light at all. We sat down and after countless times of failure, we started a fire, I didn’t realize how cold I was until I sat at the fire, my shivering never stopped, as if I was in complete paroxysm, my muscles ached from it-with every foul jerk it felt as if I fell onto a bed of nails, my teeth felt as if they were going to brake off at any time from the shiver. Thankfully, some how, we got some sleep that had to be given from God himself.
And quicker than we had hoped, the next day had fallen upon us, though we where happy to see the light, like we would to see an angle, it’s seemingly iniquitously paralyzing light blinded us and added to our aching head.
But still with mixed feeling of our adventure, we sat down and listened to some nice motivational tapes by the fire.
In a couple hours, we continued and continued sticking together with the same phrase in our head keeping us going: “you can, you will, you might, probably might!” though still this mountain seemed to harass us as if it were living, making us think that over every ledge we would find our destination: the top, but only proved to be a steep valley up that we must climb covered in tall grass and dotted with wild flowers and had a calm blowing wind: and through our frustration it almost made coming here worth every strained muscle, and every thrown out back.
We were mighty exhausted, walking far up and far down, in valleys and meadows, all the hills made it hard to find the way up. We panted as if we were going to die, I ached so much I felt like I was going to fall apart as I walked….we needed a rest. So we sat on a ledge over looking a massive valley, covered in tall grass and dotted with wild flowers and had a calm blowing wind: it almost made coming here worth every strained muscle, and every thrown out back! Then it hit us like a bag of rocks…we were sitting on the very ledge which had mocked us before. We looked at the maps, but it seemed as if they were merely an entanglement of lines, a code that needed to be broken. We had no other explanation except…we were lost, lost in hundred year old haunted forest. We found our selves in state of serious desperation, the hair on our hands stud up, and that feeling of wanting to cry was stuck in our throat and weighed down like a brick of lead. We glanced at the map once again, but staring at the map of such a mountain with its trails seeming to be a labyrinth in such a state was not good for ones cerebral cortex.
We all stopped, gathered our thoughts, and tried to remain calm, for all we knew we would die as the macabre sound of heavy bellowing and foot steps echoed through our heads. We tried to figure out what such a deathly sound could be, and with out noticing, the shiny coat of a hungry black bear reflected in the shining light of the sun. At first it was a relief thinking that at least we would have a quicker death, but then I remembered, I remembered my goal, my Pokemon cards, and just as important: my wife, and I wouldn’t let it be my end”
“Every one get any weapon you can, and make yourself A.B.A!” I commanded after remembering what I read in the “The Handy Freaking Dandy Book on How to Prevent Dying from Bears.” book.
“What does A.B.A mean?” questioned R Sue in a whisper.
“As big as possible!” I answered.
“Well at least, we made pretty far.” Re assured Mary.
“Hey shut up you weirdo! Did Word Girl give up when she was face to face with the energy monster and running out ways to destroy it? No! So why should we?!” Shouted Susie. “We’ll get through this.”
But Rhonda Sue didn’t believe it, he sputtered like a crashing computer, shacking his head, pulling his black hair, and pounding his head with his fists, he must have snapped, he again began squeezing his forehead: creating bruises, and talking to himself as if he were wrestling with his own thoughts.
For a man’s greatest foe is merely himself, and only can a man defeat himself when he begins to believe in himself.
“Grand daddy, that’s so stupid and make any sense, and you got that off of ‘As the World Turns’.”
“Hey! I’m trying to tell you a flipping story! Just listen!
Tears falling from his eyes, and biting his jaw and in a scream he ran towards the bear, perhaps it was too much for him, or maybe he didn’t realize how sharp those bears claws where, or even maybe he spared his life so that we might get away as the bear filled his belly on him rather than us, but what ever it was that bear ran to him with surprising speed to protect her cubs that must have been a little ways behind, he yelled a cry that no one really understood that went “Top obegara, top of the mountain!” For what reason, I don’t know, but what ever he said the black bear didn’t like it. The bear breathed in and out heavily, I can’t even explain what being even 5 yards from a bear is like, the fear is so great it’s almost as if you have no fear, no emotion, everything is gone: all confidence is stolen. Her growl penetrated through our bodies and I swear, it must have melted R Sue’s very face, sending wads of spit all through the air, the black coat shined in the sun, his breathe smelt of Asprin, bananas, fruit loops, and construction paper—we could even smell it from here, she finally raised one paw and sliced his face clean off! So that was the unfortunate end of R Sue, how sad we were.
But despite our loss we kept going forward, up, up, and up!
On the third day, we had hitched a ride on a nice Bigfoot and made it up to the top in 96 hours and 59 minuets exactly.
We all celebrated with power ranger cupcakes and whiskey, unfortunately, a pack of coyotes seemed to like the smell of the cupcakes and whiskey, but we weren’t about to let them have our cup cakes, they gnarled there teeth, we yelled; they howled, the pack of five circled around us, heads lowered ears down and teeth showing, we looked at each other and smiled and nodded our heads, we each tackled a dog, Susie grabbed the dog by the snout and with a yelp he snapped it’s neck, while Mary felt it was to cruel to do such a thing, he took a rock and smashed the dog’s head sending a inexorable discharge of innards through the air, I chose to pick my dog up and with a swift push of the arms, I tossed him off the steep peek to a tumbling death, but it took a snap at my arm before it fell down, and I thought for sure that I was going to fall down this mountain with it but Susie came with a stick just in time and knocked it of my arm so hard he had dislocated his elbow…and to our unfortunate notice, the other two dogs, didn’t back down, they came walking slowly towards us, as if they were smiling because they knew that they had us, and, they were right: we couldn’t fight like this. ‘We made it to the top, that’s all I came here for, and that was all that I got to do.’ I thought, until a small short cry came thundering from the forest, and in the very same amount of time it would take for a blink, hundreds of men with red hats resembled.That of the same men we saw earlier in the middle of the path. They came out like rushing waters, those Coyotes backed away whimpering nearly slipping off the path, and yet another shriek shot through the forest air, the same one that paralyzed Rick and Rick, and just the same, they stopped instantly.
“We’ll, it was a good effort guys. ”I assured them as I picked my nose.
“And, just as this incident began, it started.  They again cornered us. What were we to do?
“I know what to do.” Explained mary.
“Do it then!” Shouted Susie.
“And he did, he began singing ‘No One’ by Alicia Keys. And boy did it work! The Coyote’s eye’s began to bleed when he hit a high note, and their ears bursted like a bloody firework, and like you wait for the your mcdonalds, the dogs fell over and died.”
“You did it!” We all yelled over joyed hugging him.
“What ever" "He said through a sigh"
"Let’s just get out of here.”
As we made our way back down the mountain our hearts where filled with pride “we had conquered the mountain” we had thought, but an eerie smell polluted the air and our thoughts, we looked around and found the mutilated body of R Sue.
“Oh my good friend!” We screamed as we all fell to our knees in a sob.
Down the mountain, we got to the bottom and had to carry out the solemn duty of carrying this honorable man of 25 to his wife’s house, she cried, and we did, but through the hike even if we lost many men, we gained pride, we lost our path but we found ourselves, we found that friendship conquers fear and most importantly…we were men; and after the years, and remembering of what little value was gained by that hike; we found that being called a man and being a man were two opposites.  You’re called a “man” by just doing something great or even just making yourself look great after all, any one can do that. Rather while being a man is not being afraid to not be called a man, it’s respect that makes you a man, it’s being humble that makes you a man, it’s being right to your wife that makes you a man, it’s the fear of God, not man… 
As a memorial to remember the sadness, excitement and adventure, each year we would climb to the top with hopes of a new adventure; and for some reason, be it revenge or coincident, those Coyotes seemed to come to us each year as well trying to kill our eyeballs out, and luckily, we learned to carry a gun…unlike last time.“
“Grand daddy that was a lame story…”
THE END


Submitted: January 28, 2010

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