The Hike Jun26


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The Hike

Once upon a time… when the sky was blue and the clouds were white. John and Kira went for a short but challenging hike up into the craggy granite mountains of Arizona.

They each carried supplies for two days and an over-night in that especially beautiful green forested section of the lower mountains. They parked their car close to the rest rooms in the public lot provided by the Forestry Department and stopped in at the rustic, wooden, cabin where the Rangers advised visitors and gave them maps of the various hiking trails along with some pamphlets to instruct the beginners and regulars alike of the ‘Considerate Hiker’s Rules’ to help benefit the people, wild animals, and the mountains alike.

The couple stood before the giant colored wall map and discussed the planned route. They were not green-horns but healthy regulars to these mountains with an idea of which new unexplored, by them, path to take this time. John ran his finger tips lightly along the trail dots as they appeared in red and Kira agreed. So with that in mind, off they went into the fresh cool, pine, breeze.

Down by a cold water brook a large granite boulder marked the start and eventually the end of the trail they intended to travel today. They had left home in the dark to arrive here early and as they scanned the mountain ridges for the one that was to be today’s destination, they noticed that the morning sun was still hiding behind the mountains, and although the sky was light blue, in this section anyway, it was still before sunrise. A good start.

They began slowly, walking the well pounded path beside the brook and up the gradual grade slowly so as to be able to take in the beauty of all that they passed. Kira especially liked to make mental notes of the types and colors of the flowers that grew at this altitude this time of year.

John often paused to pick up an unusual stone that stood out from the others and try to identify it in this confused jungle of rocks, either carried here long ago by water or ice, or even the busy Rangers filling in uneven spots with purchased gravel that could have originated almost anywhere. He carried a very small rock book for that purpose.

They went higher and so did the sun until just as it peeked over the eastern ridge, they were standing next to a cliff almost high enough to block it again. Around the next bend Kira had stopped and so John stopped behind her. She was silently observing a very strange sight.

An Eagle, a very large grand American Bald Eagle was standing it’s ground right in the center of the path.

The American protected bird showed no sign of injury. And why it stood so still watching them was a mystery. They tried to discover the reason for this unusual behavior that puzzled them.

Kira spoke in a whisper,

“Look behind her,” There in a crack between loose fallen rocks huddled a very young bird. It was large but did not have enough feathers to be very mature. The mother was doing her best to protect it, but helping it seemed quite beyond her ability.

John and Kira backed off a few feet, to keep from worrying the huge mother Eagle. Still they sat within her view as Kira carefully searched her back pack for something to offer the mother. They had some jerky meat.

“Do you think she would eat this?” she asked her husband, holding out a longish strip of the rather tough beef. John took it and inched his way closer, without standing, and when the bird began to backup he stopped and tossed the beef at her feet.

“Good aim!” Kira whispered. The Eagle eyed the object, then leaned her large head out enough to snap up the beef in her very sharp beak. She spent some time chomping the string, sometimes holding it still with a claw. As soon as she had worked the whole thing down her throat she turned to the awesome chick and regurgitated it into the baby’s open mouth, then turned to face the sitting couple again. Kira was ready with another strip. John tossed it.

She must have been hungry, so they tossed another strip. This time John made it land a little further up the path. The Eagle hopped closer to get it. Kira moved up that direction with a ready jerky dangling in plain sight.

John had removed his jacket and moved in the opposite direction to come from behind the baby bird. Once in position, he quickly spread the light windbreaker over the baby and gathered it close before it could call out. While Kira kept the mother busy eating their travel lunch, John looked up the cliff to where the baby must have tumbled from its nest.

He saw an over-hanging ledge and with the bundle strapped to his back, where he had been carrying their small tent, he made his way up until the nest was within reach. He gave the bundle a one armed, overhead toss into the large nest of sticks and just hoped it would hold together, as he only had one chance. Keeping his jacket sleeve in his hand, he wiggled the jacket until, with the little Eagles help, it was free to sit and scream in indignation.

John more or less dropped down a rock at a time and just in time, as the mother Eagle, hearing the commotion, flew up to check out her complaining chick, while Kira rose to stand beneath her descending man, just in case.

They only watched a few moments longer, to drink from their water bottles and observe the Eagles as they settled down. Then having fallen behind time-wise, they moved on up the path.

For the next couple of miles the path took a steep, twisted climb. At each outward bend they paused to enjoy the growing view. The brook climbed with them then seemed to almost drop lower, as the path climbed more. From the next view- water stop, they saw a wide place in the usually narrow river that was as blue as a tiny lake. It was tempting to take the down trail to spend the night beside it, but so much effort had gone into climbing up to this point that they continued to go up.

A lovely flat was found at the top of a misty water fall that let the dwindling river drop to that very same little lake. A perfect place to put up the pup tent and build a small fire, It would not be dark for awhile yet, but they liked to have daylight to make an overnight camp and get comfortable with needed fire wood and shelter before dark.

They had a couple of packets of camping foods that they would heat for a supper. One was beans and the other mixed vegetables. Kira was preparing them while John searched for useable wood. He came back to camp holding something but it was not wood. He gently placed the injured squirrel, who seemed to have a broken hind leg, on a pile of dry grass.

“Oh poor thing.” She looked up at John with concern. “What is this? wounded animal week?”

“I found him hiding among the washed up sticks I was gathering for fire starting. He didn’t fight me as I picked him up. I don’t know if it’s his weakened condition or a sense that I meant no harm. They say animals have instincts like that.”

“Let me have a look.” She knelt down to examine the obviously wounded leg. The squirrel made one feeble attempt to move and stopped as Kira’s hand softly stroked his fur, as she gently lifted the sore leg just a little and peered at the slightly bloody scabs.

“Well anyway it’s not broken. Something larger gave this leg a bad bite. See the tiny tooth marks?”

“Might even have been another squirrel.’ John remarked. “What can we do?”

“I have a tube of pain killer with disinfectant. I’ll get that and pat some on the bite to prevent infection and give this little fellow some comfort as he heals.” John offered the weak squirrel a drink of water on a plastic lid. He sipped a bit then dropped back.

Kira arrived with the salve and put a thick smear over the bites then she wrapped it in soft green leaves held on by a single small rubber band of the type she carried to pony tail her hair.

John placed the animal next to the tent for protection from some other critter who might mistake it for supper. Nothing was likely to venture that close to them.

He returned for the stack of wood he had abandoned to carry this new little patient to safety. With the fire underway by the time Kira returned with a pot full of cold water from the stream that flowed toward the waterfall, she hung it over the small flames on the posts John had created for it.

Darkness fell rapidly after the sun went behind the first ridge, so they entertained themselves by playing some music on John’s small, camping sized uke. They both sang the sleepy songs of the lonely cowboys. They just seemed to fit the quiet evening.

“That was very brave of you to get that baby Eagle up to that high nest.” Kira told John, then she let out a little laugh, as she admitted,

“ You know something? When you threw that strip of jerky so far from the adult Eagle, I thought you had just made a lousy toss. Then I saw you look up at the ledge and spotted the nest that you had seen, so I knew what you had in mind.”

“You did a good job of distracting the mother so I could sneak up on the little one.” John told his wife. She leaned over to give him a hug as she told him,

“I guess we just work well together.” The hug became a kiss.

In the morning the squirrel was gone. The rubber banded leaves lay near his resting place where they could see he had pulled it off himself by the chewed ends of the leaves. He must be doing okay somewhere. They concluded.

After a morning hot chocolate and raspberry food bar, they cleaned the camp of any sign that they had been there and continued on the hike. They should have been all of the way to the top before they camped, but this had been very pleasant and neither regretted the delays.

At the first water break, the destination peak was in sight, but still steeply out of reach. They stood side by side looking out over the magnificent view, when a bear roar was heard coming up at them from down by the stream below. It wasn’t a loud, “I am in charge of this mountain so get out of my territory, roar, but a low pained moan of a roar. John stepped down a couple of boulders to try to see the bear. Of course Kira followed.

“I see him.” She told John, softly as to not attract the bear’s attention.

“Right, I do too. Look he is stuck in the debris by that one huge log that came down with the small stuff. He must have been fishing when the crush of wood came rushing down in fast water and caught his front left paw under the log. Watch how he struggles and pulls hard to get loose, but can’t. His roar is tired and pained.”

“The water has been running low ever since we got here.” Kira reasoned, “so he must have been trapped for some time. No wonder he sounds so weak.

John took a step down toward the bear. Kira grabbed his arm.

“Oh no you don’t. It’s one thing to climb up and try to save an Eagle and helping the squirrel was a no brainer, but you cannot help a 500 pound bear who can eat you up, as soon as you free him. When we get back today, we can tell the Rangers of the bear’s where-a-bouts. So just get out the G.P.S. and mark it down, so we can inform help from those who have with a professional crew for this sort of stuff..” Kira turned to go back up to the path.

John paused looking the situation over. He saw some of the strong branches that would do the trick very close to the bear, and stood a little longer wondering how to pull it off.

Kira was standing hands on her hips quietly trying to firmly order her guy to… get up here, she was waiting to continue the hike. If not for the bear she would be yelling, it was instinctual to not let the huge creature become aware of them.

“Wait!” he told her, “ I think I can do it.”

“Oh no! You’re not going to leave me to have to tell your brothers that I let you stay and get killed and devoured by a wild bear. They’ll kill me for sure. Get up here John.” This she shouted loud and firm.

“John turn, his finger to his lips to shhh her. “Don’t get the bear excited. Toss me down the tent rope.”

Kira mumbled as she removed the tent rope from John’s back pack and took it to him. What was she doing? “I’m going to use this to tie you up and drag you back.” She yelled as she reluctantly tossed it down.

“I have a plan. You stay there. I will be coming up very quickly as soon as the bear is free.”

Kira watched horrified as John crept closer to the bear. She dared not make any noise now,

She saw him make a loop of rope and counting on the bear’s inability to move. tossed the loop over the bear and tied his end to the strong tree stump he had scoped out in advance.

John was startled by movement behind him, thinking another bear, maybe this one’s mate, was arriving. But it was Kira, who had made her way down, as she could not make her husband come back up, she decided she had better help.

John gave her a fast approving smile and returned to his task. The rope was in a good place having dropped to the bear’s middle pinning his two front legs to his sides. The bear was weak from being in this position for at least three days. That had been the last rain that would have filled the river and caused this mess to tumble down on him.

He roared his soft pained roar to attempt to frighten these approaching humans. He succeeded in frightening them, but did not deter them

John chose carefully two long thin branches for their straight strength and put first one than then the second into a wedge of a large rock and the log that had trapped the bear. Then he looked at Kira.

“Now, this time do as I say.” Kira Laughed, “Since when?”

“Since right now! if you want to live to brag about it. When you see me lean on my branch with all of my weight, you do the same with yours. When and if the log moves up and the bear catches on and gets free, you scramble up the hill as fast as you can. I will promise to be right behind you. Then grab your pack and I’ll take mine and we want to be around the bend and out of sight before the bear has time to realize he is free and hopefully goes in the opposite direction.”

“What about the rope?”

“The bear can deal with that, when he feels stronger.”

In hiding at the top, they observed the bear climbing up the hill on the other side of the river with relief. That was when Kira noticed that the bear was not dragging a rope. She looked at John who had the rope still in his hands.

“I thought the bear was supposed to have that problem.” She remarked.

“Well, actually, I need it more than he does so I untied it and yanked it loose. I think Mr. Bear was glad to get rid of it.”

“You did that and still almost beat me up the hill?”

“I’m much faster when I don’t really know whether the bear will run after me… or away from me. He chose very wisely, don’t you think.?

“He chose wisely. The decision is still out on whether you did or not.” Kira fought off a smile to keep a firm face for her husband. He would not last very long if he kept on doing this kind of stuff. She kept the pride she felt in his abilities to herself, so as not to encourage him to take such crazy chances.

They continued on up the steepest final leg of the trail and sat for lunch, side by side on the top peak. They were supposed to be eating beef jerky with their fruit but had the last of the crackers instead.

Kira took out her cell telephone, there was no service in these ridges, but she wanted to take a photograph. Her first was of John standing with the far and distant view behind him. Right in the middle of the smile he wore for the camera, his expression changed. Kira caught that instead as he told her “Look behind you. Look at those dark clouds!”

Kira turned toward the sky and was shocked to see off in the distant direction from which they came were deep stormy rain clouds.

The Rangers and the newspapers had predicted clear skies for the week.

“Guess we better be tootling along and try to beat those things.” She told John. He was already gathering up their things and loading on his back pack.

Down the steep part of the path was just as slow as going up, but soon they were on the easy slant and moving right along. They soon broke from the east bend around the cliff and were facing the strong wind that came up from the west.

Kira brushed a cold flake from her face and was surprised by another. “John” she called back. “ I feel snow on my face.”

“I got it too.” He told her, shouting into the wind, “The high wind is carrying it from those clouds.”

“So we get snow even before the clouds arrive here. That’s tricky.”

“At least the sun is still shining here, so it melts as soon as it hits the ground. Not really good news as the path will become muddy and slippery.” John caught up with Kira and they walked side by side for awhile until the path narrowed again.

“I think I’d rather walk in snow than mud.” Kira admitted between short hard breaths. The pace to beat the snow and the altitude was very tiring, so they stopped talking to save their breath for moving down the mountain. After the next bend the wind was less, but the path snow had accumulated and walking became more difficult.

“Looks like you got your wish. I hope you enjoy the snow.” John teased his wife. She did not reply as she thought the tone of voice was a little sarcastic and besides, walking had become slower in the slush. John made a joke.

“We won’t have to take a water break, just open our mouths as we walk.”

“Ha Ha.” Kira said, “very funny.” She stopped and set her back pack on a rock to take out a sweater to pull on under her light jacket. The warm knitted hat was pulled on over her ears and she just wished she had warmer socks and gloves. John soon did the same and then they began once again to challenge the wind and flying snow just around the next bend.

Heads down they kept up the best pace possible, but John was now worried that this would not be a one day simple jaunt to the bottom of this mountain where the car waited.

They expected a change in the path somewhere around here and John took out the G.P.S. to confirm it. Yes they were both correct about the paths that crossed here, but where were they?

The light but constant snow at this level had obliterated the paths. If they took the wrong one, they would be going back up a different mountain path. Not what they wanted. In fact it would be disastrous. They walked a small circle from one side to the other looking for a clue as to which one they must have. That is if they could find even one. Which area looked familiar from yesterday?

“Shall we take different directions for a minute or two and see where they go” John asked.

“No, no, please,” Kira pleaded, “Let’s stick together no matter what.”

As they stood puzzled about finding a path, a little squirrel hopped in front to them. It paused by John and still hopping up and down in the cold slush moved slowly away. As they watched fascinated, Kira remarked,

“I thought Squirrels hid in a tree and hibernated when it snowed.”

This squirrel hopped back to John and began to hope away again. This time when it stopped, Kira began to wonder and moved closer to the tiny animal and sure enough, this was the squirrel she had put the salve on, the little wounds were still visible.

“This is your squirrel, John the one you saved.”

John walked closer, so the squirrel moved away again, then stopped looking back over his fluffy fur tail. John walk toward him again and the squirrel kept going. It reminded john of a Lassie movie, where the dog had done that to get them to follow him. Kira joined them as they went between trees and finally broke out onto the remembered path.

“I believe that the squirrel was actually trying to help you find your path.” His wife told him.

“Nah, That’s silly.” John said, even though he was thinking the same silly thing.

They began to walk again and the squirrel jumped up and down squeaking happily, then chased up a tree and out of sight.

“How could we explain this to anyone.” John quipped.

“Only if you want to be locked up for a long rest.” Kira answered. And they continued on down the new found path.

The sun disappeared. First it simply hid behind the dense clouds then the mountain took it and darkness descended on their path, making it near to invisible.

“We’re going to have to spend a night in this on coming storm.” John finally decided. Even their flashlights failed to reveal the trail. It seemed to be too dark too even look for a better camp sight. They both knew they should have stopped sooner, but both just wanted to get at least to the car. John began to smooth off a place to set up the tent, when a rustle in the brush beside them stopped the work. Kira moved closer to John as they strained to see, what?

A large bear immerged and stopped in front of them. It was too late for them to do anything except freeze. And they did. The bear nodded his big head up and down and turned to go.

“Thank God.” They whispered. But no the bear had stopped and was looking back at them. He bowed his head up and down again and took two steps away still looking back and made a low calm growl. Three more steps away and Kira noticed.

“That is your bear, John, the one you saved. Look at his left paw the one that was caught in the log. He limps on that one. The bear limped two more paces and stopped again. They began to slowly follow him, wondering if they were now making the biggest mistake of their lives.

On the far side of this cliff a large cave came in sight. The bear stopped at the side of the opening, and shook his head up and down again. Then turned and disappeared into the deep brush with barely a rustle.

The cave was a perfect shelter from the storm which would surely hit before sun up, so they moved into it. Others had used it as there was a store of dry wood just inside, and a circle of stones to form place to build a fire.

They had nothing left of their food but they were warmed by the fire and out of the wind.

“I guess that is all we can expect of a bear.” Kira laughed.

“Yes.,” said John “But a catered meal would have been nice.” They set out their sleeping bags near to the roaring fire, not bothering with the tent.

“Look” Kira pointed to a spot just at the opening of the cave. “Is that?

“It is. It’s the Eagle. The great American Bald Eagle hopped, dragging something large in his beak across the ground. Then deposited it and flew off. John stood and went to the opening to see what it was. A very large freshly killed rabbit lay at his feet. He picked it up and came to the fire and showed it to Kira.

“ What do we do with this?” He asked smiling at the thought.
“I guess it would have been too much to expect your Eagle to cook it for us.”
“How do you know it was my Eagle?” He asked,
“And who else would it be ?”
John stretched the soft rabbit skin to dry and placed the cleaned rabbit on a spit to cook.

Kira would have preferred a nice veggie basket, she had never eaten rabbit but with the rich smell of roasted rabbit that filled the cave and made her mouth water, she knew she soon would.

They had not eaten anything since the apple and crackers on the peek at noon. Rabbit tasted just like chicken except with more white meat.

As soon as they had eaten their fill, John cut the rest of the cooked white meat into thin strips, dusted them with salt and pepper and placed them on the spit, hanging over the hot coals to turn them into rabbit jerky… in case this trip took longer than he expected, which it already had.

It took them much longer to realize that the sun had come up than they knew as the cave was quite naturally dark, and the sleep on a full stomach was so welcome. When they did venture out they were dazzled by the full sun. The storm had passed by in the night and left their entire world awash in white.

They automatically tried to leave the cave as they found it. They had burned a lot of the wood but replacing it was out of the question this white morning. John figured that the trip down to the car should not take longer than half a day… and getting home the other half… He was wrong.

No, he was only half wrong. By afternoon they were approaching the parking lot.

They trudged in dead tired and soggy through and through. As tired as they were of trying to follow the, all white, half-hidden, trail, that they thought at first they had reached the wrong parking lot. Their car was not in sight. The restrooms they had parked across from were in the right place and their car was… stolen?

A close examination soon proved that the slight bump in the snow was actually their car completely buried in the snow, just where they parked it. The wind had heaped it so completely that it was nearly invisible.

While Kira was in the public rest room trying to refresh and revive herself, John dug out the side of the car, which faced the missing street. Kira came out to see that a path had been cut through the snow leading from the passenger door of the car and the door to the Women’s room.

“Your new abode, Madam.” He bowed politely, “You’ll notice that you have two rooms… front and back, plus a private bathroom, he turned to wave toward Women’s room she had just exited. She had to laugh. All of this tiring descent from the mountain she had envisioned the comfortable drive home in the warm car. That was obviously impossible. Not just because the car was buried, but because the streets were also buried.

They would not get home tonight, but the most unanswered question that neither of them asked was, “When would they get home?”

They huddled for warmth in the back seat. Every now and then John tried once again to start the car. Everything seemed to be too cold or frozen. On the seventh try, just before the battery died, the motor turned over. John let it run until the battery was somewhat recharged. Even though it made the car warmer, It also created deadly fumes to form inside the sealed car.

The little Ranger building a block away was closed and buried. They knew that any Ranger’s around would be several miles down the hill. But unless someone inquired about them, no one would be looking for them.

They took turns going out and listening for the sound of something with a motor… usually tied to the infrequent trips to the cold rest room.

A careful search of the door pockets, glove compartment and trunk, after a little more digging, gave them a total of six packages of gum, four Hershey bars, a half box of stale Cheese crackers and one box of dry raisins. All of course frozen solid.

They took turns with John’s ukulele and sang every song they knew. On the second day they were resorting to making up new songs. Kira used her little can of Sterno-fuel to warm a pot of snow water and make one Hershey bar into two cups of hot chocolate. The Rabbit jerky was not as appealing as the roasting one had been, but it gave them something nourishing to chew on.

They wondered just when those Rangers would come back. Those people were their only hope. They had no way of knowing that John’s brother, Andrew was on his way.

Andrew had called to ask John a question about something, what it was, soon slipped his mind. The fellow who finally answered the phone told him that the couple had gone for a hike several days ago and had not returned. All he knew was that they were going to follow an interesting old trail. The Arizona Rangers got Andrew’s next call. Yes they had signed in for an over night three nights ago before the storm hit. They probably came back early before the storm.

“No they didn’t Andrew told him, where did they leave from, I’m coming up to look for them.”

He then called his grandparents with the calm message that he was on his way to Arizona if anyone asked. The boy’s mother did inquire and the message had a very different meaning to her. She could think of nothing for Andrew to leave California for Arizona for except a problem.

So after a few phone calls, she too was in her car with extra warm clothes, food and blankets if needed, on her way to Arizona.

John had dozed and in his dream he heard a motor coming closer. He jumped awake and threw himself out of the car just as the snow-cat with a single rider drove right past them. He jumped yelled and waved, but the thing’s own noise drowned out all others. In fact most riders wore earplugs or music headsets when driving it.

John knew that there was no place else to go beyond the snowed in parking lot and he would surely turn back this way… wouldn’t he? It hadn’t stopped snowing all morning and his path to the rest room was gone and even on the car, they were just barely able to get the door open. He should dig again. He stayed watching for the Ranger to return. His visibility was three feet.

The noise was returning, so he stood in the middle of the track it had made going past.

The Ranger was startled to see a man in front of him. He had been down at the lower office and was probably the only one in the service who was not watching out for the lost couple.

In the small town a group had been formed, led by Andrew, to go into the trails to search as soon as this snow stopped falling. With that kind of a distress call, the news was soon on the way with a T.V. truck. Found dead or alive they would still be news.

The small Snow-Cat didn’t have room for three but by leaving everything behind they would be able to get down the hill together. Getting down was of the up most importance.

John locked the car and gave it a pat. He liked that old Volvo and didn’t know when he would see it again. The Ranger promised to call him as soon as it was clear and the lot and streets were clear.

As a matter of fact the call came the following April and a tow truck was needed to get the long frozen Volvo to a repair shop.

At the station word went out that the couple had turned up and were both well. Andrew went to the little town hospital where they were being checked and offered to take them to their home. Once in his car, Andrew tossed his cell phone to John and told him to call Mom as she was on her way here, too.

She was very happy to get that call. as she was going to the wrong place, up in the mountains, expecting to hunt with the other searchers.

Andrew drew his car right up to the front of the house and found that there was no place to park. The news people, their assorted cars, and the large T.V. truck with antenna up were everywhere.

John and Kira got out past the house and went toward their front door. They were surrounded at once. Questions flew and John faced the lady with the mike and began to try to answer her question,

“How did you find your way back down the mountain in the snow storm?”

The picture of the Eagle and the Squirrel and the Bear flashed before him and he stammered. But Kira stepped forward and took the mike, she smiled and explained,

“It was his Boy Scout training. John is an Eagle Scout you know and he was very good with everything we needed to do to survive.”

John felt a great relief, that Kira had found a way to answer without the other silly sounding nonsense even entering into it. The lady gave the mike back to John.

“So you still had to spend three days living in your car. How did you manage that?”

“Well, “ John replied, “I went a little crazy now and then and she would calm me down. Then he smiled a tiny bit and added, “Then she went a little crazy and I… just let her go.”

They all laughed and everyone in their town and some all over the country saw it on the television and also laughed.

“I can see that what saved you both was your sense of humor.” She told them on camera. Then she smiled her thanks to them and signed off.
Soon all of the news crowd also left to print their own version of the story.
John turned to Kira and said

“Thanks for the quick lie”

“But it wasn’t lie. If you had not had all of that good Boy Scout training you wouldn’t have noticed the Eagle’s nest, found and picked up the squirrel, or ever even thought of trying to save the bear. So you see… not a lie. As for those other things, they happened as we saw them, but you had to be there to understand it. Don’t you agree?”

“What if I told my brothers?” John asked tentatively. “Just my three brothers, no one else.”

“It’s up to you,” Kira smiled. She knew those brothers and was amazed by their close relationship. At first she felt left out when they were together. But she had since come to believe that the world would be a better place if all brothers were like those four.

Andrew came in by the back door to avoid the news people.

John pulled a couple of beers from the fridge and said,

“Sit down, Andrew, We are going to tell you a story. Kira sat beside her husband and took his hand. Even she wondered how John would explain this hike to his brother.

By Beverly Mosier, with thanks to John and Kira for unwittingly letting me in on the real story.