Day Eight, or Whatever

I needed to get words out and Frosting needed to get calories in. He had come down with a bad GI condition and hadn’t been able to take anything more than water for nearly a day. So we decided to stick around Four Pines Hostel until 11 a.m., nearly four hours after the other hikers had cleared out.

It was a beautiful day but a hot one, and Frosting made it just over a mile before deciding his stomach was only getting grumpier in the heat. I tried to walk with him back southward, and when he declined, I insisted that he text me as soon as he made it to the hostel.

Thirty minutes later I was in a panic, as scenarios of the worst-case genre raced through my head: Frosting collapsed on an empty trail, or in a briar-packed ditch, or sizzling somewhere along the sun-baked tarmac. I spotted a chopper buzzing overhead, heard an ambulance whining through the valley, and all signs pointed to Frosting’s doom at my negligence.

But Frosting made it. I’ve never been so excited to receive a text on the trail.

Relieved, enlivened, I pushed on over McAfee Knob, where a crew of 15 or so day hikers snapped topless and/or pantsless photos atop the rocky precipice.

The evening’s shelter was nearly full when I arrived, but my friends made room for one more on the hard dusty floor.

As we settled into sleeping bag, Tie recounted his elaborate plan to propose to his wife atop McAfee Knob. “I had it all planned out, a sunny day and everything. Then she wakes up the morning of and tells me ‘You can NOT propose to me on a hike.’ Apparently, she’d had a dream of a bear attacking us right before she said ‘I do.’ So that didn’t pan out.”

Then Samaritain, the gentleman he is, told of his own proposal. He woke his wife early one morning on a camping trip in Wisconsin, and paddled her “still half-asleep wrapped up in her sleeping bag,” to the center of the lake to watch the sunrise. And as the sky alit with its brilliant daybreaking radiance, Samaritain popped the question. I swear I saw a movie once where the same proposal happened, only the canoe tips at the end.

“Well, Indigo, how did you propose to your wife?” Flamingo jousted. The shelter chuckled.

I put on a deliberative frown.

“Which one?”

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