Sunday, March 12, 2006

In a dry and thirsty land

I tripped over a rock, and a thorn scratched my bare leg. But I didn’t care. I just wanted water. At midday, the dried up shrubs offered small protection from the hot sun. I heard shouting ahead of me, so I hurried forward, certain that the shouts were from my sisters and friends who were leading the way to the boulder field. I was wrong.

As usual, my family had been reluctant to leave the camping trip and return to civilization. Kelsey didn’t have to be at orchestra practice until 5, so we planned a short stop on a nearby mountain. We’d hike out to a boulder field, climb around for a while, and be back in the suburban by 12:45.

My sisters and I scrambled out of the car. We opted against water bottles. With only an few hours to hike the mile to the rocks, climb to our hearts’ content, and hike back to the car, who had time to lug water around?

A group of boys from the church ran past us girls. My sisters joined them. But I was smart. I didn’t want to be miserably thirsty while I was climbing on the boulders; I would walk quickly and would still be hydrated when I arrived at the cool rocks.

OK, so my brilliant plan wasn’t quite so brilliant. The path held several forks, and my navigational skills have never been anything to brag about. As much as I hurried, I never caught up with my friends. I did near the top of the mountain though. That wasn’t supposed to happen. And I did grow almost unbearably thirsty. That wasn’t supposed to happen either.

The sun grew hotter, and I grew thirstier, but I still hurried on, certain that I would soon find my friends and the water that some of the boys were carrying. When I saw the top of the mountain, I admitted defeat. I had no idea where the others were, had nothing with me but the clothes I was wearing, and wanted nothing more than a sip of water.

I looked at the sun, and I guessed 12:30. Fifteen minutes to find my way back down the mountain, and heat and dehydration were rapidly zapping my energy. I started down the path, hoping that I was choosing the right forks when I came to them. The thought of the bottle of car-warmed water waiting for me prodded me forward. I took another look at the sun and began doubting my sun-reading skills. Surely it wasn’t already 1:00.

A few minutes later, I saw my dad and another friend running up the path. Their faces cleared when they saw me. I asked the time, and my dad said 1:08. Soon, we were back at the car. My sisters all rushed at me, apologizing profusely for leaving me behind. I just asked for water.

Kelsey was late for orchestra, but we figured she could just tell them that her sister was lost on an Oklahoma mountain without any water. Who wouldn’t be sympathetic?


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