Echoes of Georgia

Georgia opened with moody, glowering skies. Fog encapsulated us, enforcing a stinginess of views. Our noses riveted to the slick and slimy trail. Soaked leaf litter hid roots and rocks, which grasped at unwary ankles. Thick mud sucked our poles down to chthonic depths.

Never a View

A soup of cloud-borne mist wormed its way past the most resistant seals. A pervasive damp covered everything. Optimistic spirits struggled against the noose of depressive gloom.

Gray settled into the world, flavoring our eyes with visions of vintage horror films. Dim shapes of wind twisted trees, and fathomless depths from every precipice greeted us. Desperately we clung to the thin ribbon of trail, yearning for each blaze as though suffocating.

Mountains rose into the heights as though rocky waves within which pain played. Their names haunted our every step; each requiring some sacrifice to pass. Packs were burdensome lifelines, without which we would be lost. They clawed ever at shoulders and hips, threatening to drag us down at every turn.

Miles crept by. The grind never ceasing with its tease. One more ledge, one more switchback, just beyond this tree. Waking time was as a lurching nightmare. Whips of cold, lashes of rain drove us on. It was the kiss of bane and the caress of woe.

Our only solace was the knowledge of companions bearing the same toils. Shouldering the same burdens, scourged by the same lash. Relief came at day’s end with the failure of the sun. Darkness hid the horrors of our toil yet brought another agony. Swollen blisters, inflamed ligaments, muscle cramps and more swarmed the camp. We were bludgeoned into the sleep of the exhausted.

To  Wondering Eyes

An oasis appeared before our questioning eyes. A friendly face. Offerings of refreshing elixir and gladly quaffed. New strength and resolve drove us. The gloom lifting with a discontented groan. Whisperings of a safe harbor reached our ears. If only we had the resolve within us. Once more we took upon our backs the self-chosen burdens.

It was enough. Refreshed, we marched resolute.  It wasn’t long before the comforting scent of a hot meal wafting through the hills reached our questing noses. The weary companions filtered into the sheltered mountain gap. Within they found kindred spirits extolling them to partake of victuals and to go not unfulfilled.

The day progressed into evening and camp was made. Conversation flowed freely. More alike than different, each discovered in turn. A few stood forth to teach what they had learned. The companions knew rest, for the toils of the mountains had been held at bay.

At first light, once more the camp was aroused by olfactory stimulation. The night’s fast broken, camp was struck. One by one, with many a backward glance, each hiker took once more his pack. Now less burdensome, and the travail of mountain and fen did not seem to oppress any longer. Such was the magic of those angels.

Soon mountains loomed once more, their treachery apparent. Undaunted, the companions fought back. Every peak became as a victory. Triumphant, each stood upon the mount to taste the rewards.

Some valleys held little havens the companions visited for respite. These only smiled and held open warm arms for the want of coin. Purses lightened, the companions moved on, considering the trade fair.

Finally, the miser of the mountains relented. The territory nearly crossed, the blinding clouds parted. At least the companions could see the horizon. Eyes gazed both from whence they came as well as toward where their feet would soon walk. The conquered mountains were now known by sight.

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