LOCATION: Blue Mountain Ridge, PA
Thelma hadn't been walking all that fast when she had waved goodby.
I stashed the box in my pack and raced off in a direction
to intercept. I had to return the borrowed map, after all,
didn't I? My orienteering training was paying off, as I soaked
up the exhilaration of off-trail running that is unlike anything
else. I was in my element now.
I hit a four way trail junction, and there was not a sign of
anyone, and no clue as to which way to go. I checked the trails
for that bootprint, but they were all well-traveled, so I was
unable to make out anything distinct.
Quickly I glanced at that map, and again it had changed, showing
a standing, dead tree to the right of the west-leading trail.
I ran towards it, counting blazes while ignoring the ones
of the wrong color. The eighth blaze was on a rather large tree
to the left, either a hickory or an oak, but I couldn't be sure
and I couldn't care less, as I saw the dead tree about
60 feet or so up the trail.
Still no sign of anyone as I raced up to the tree and checked the
map to see where I was going next. Up the hill at 339 degrees
to a fallen tree with two prongs sticking out the top of its
The woods here were beautiful and open, but the southern exposure
and the openness had caused the snow to melt, so I didn't see
any footprints. I didn't need to, as after a minute or so of
running up the hill on the bearing, I saw her. Sitting casually
on the log about a foot from the prongs, the wind blowing her
auburn hair across her face.
"Did you find what you were looking for?", I asked, as I handed
her her map.
"I think so", she replied. Then she pointed down into the valley
to the south. "I know this great steak house down there; lets
check out what's on tap and compare secrets".
Perhaps there was treasure to be found on that Mountain after