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the old trail


We took a long hike up to the summit where patches of old snow still lay in shaded places long into summer.  Our fingers tingled with ‘the altitude’ and we found ourselves short of breath in the thin mountain air.  Though it was a spring morning, we were already dry and hot.  So we left the old dirt wagon trail tumbled with boulders blasted from the highway above and ascended, jumping rock to rock, up Summit Creek as far as it ran alongside the trail. The creek was tumultuous, roaring white with melted snow pouring down from the heights all at once.  Sometimes, where the water was not too deep, we would step into the fierce, cold current.  It wanted to carry us on down.  My mother slipped and barked her shin on a rock.  The blood ran bright down her leg and she laughed as she always did injuring herself.  My brother grew solemn and I sullen. We made our way more carefully now. At the veering we rejoined the trail, drying ourselves in the sunlight.  My brother and I bickered and our mother sang as the trail steepened beneath the mountain’s silence.  Near the summit we stepped into the snow shed at the tunnel entrance to breathe the fragrant traces of the trains.  Shadows gathered among the granite boulders and soft contours of dust.  A doe stared out from the darkening trees.