Stood with my arms out like I was being patted down by a bouncer. My wife sprayed repellant all over me, one limb at a time. Mosquitoes landed down, sucking my blood while they still had time, like swimmers diving down to the bottom of the pool, trying to grab the rock first and swim back up, holding their breaths. I smelled like green absinthe, but at least the bites would stop. The trail path was black with mud, a telltale sign it was slick. We checked our map and took the trail under the power lines that sizzled, flowing with juice for the rich living in the hills nearby. My tennis smacked the mud like bubblegum.
We were on the other side of the greenbelt and man, could I tell. We had to crouch down for 50 yards like miners entering a shaft of bushes with stems and branches bending back, whipping us in the face. We stopped at a couple of spots overlooking the rapids. Spied out some well-known swimming holes, too, and no one really noticed us as we looked on from the other side. I felt like a native from an unknown tribe under cover, curiously watching civilization throwing back beers as they stood in the water, belching and laughing.
We hiked further up and found some high-schoolers swinging from a rope into the creek, wrecking-ball style. They wouldn’t even look at us. Pretty obvious we weren’t supposed to be there. They froze. Even their cooler tried not to move as we passed by. Hi!
I was looking for a cliff-overlook by Lost Creek, but I knew it was close to private land, and a barrier of barbed wire. We hiked and noticed every branch, plant, and leaf was wet, dripping with dew. Mold floated in the air like an asteroid belt and hammocks of spider webs sparkled all around us. Our clothes and skin were now damp with instant sweat, the moisture heavy in the air. I slipped trying to climb down some limestone, and fell right on my ass. My CAMELBAK bladder full of water saved my spine from getting split right down the middle by a protruding rock.
We met two boys with their mother right by the Hill of Life waterfalls headed back to their car at Lost Creek. They were all in flip-flops carrying brightly colored floaties and walked straight down the mud puddles without concern. Didn’t even slip. Too tired to care. We let them go ahead of us.
We made it to the top of the hill and the tangled wire of private land that blocked us from our scenic overlook. I looked on and sighed. We returned to the trail and found another overlook of the valley, nonetheless. The purple clouds swirled above us, and I held her close. Pink bunches of wildflowers dotted the hillsides.