February 12, 2016
Kyle coasted to a stop at the far corner of the empty parking lot. The sun had just started to peek through the trees in long ribbons of light. I climbed from the passenger seat and walked to the back of the car to wait for him to hit the trunk release. Bouncing on the balls of my feet to get my blood circulating after our hour-long drive out of the city. The latch clicked and the deck lid popped open. My back pack was heavy, but I dismissed the fleeting thought that it might be too much weight to carry on the twenty mile hike into the woods. We strapped on our respective bundles and I checked the laces on my hiking boots one last time before striking off toward the old abandoned mine.
"So this is supposed to be one of the best hiking trails within a fifty mile radius of St. Louis, huh?" I asked.
"That's what the book said," Kyle said.
Hiking was a fairly new past time for me, by Kyle was an old pro. We had been dating for about three months, and I was still at that awkward, eager-to-please stage in our relationship, so I didn't complain when, after about two miles, one of my boots started to rub against my heel. I stopped walking for a second and shifted my feet inside the shoes to alleviate some of the pressure. My socks probably slid down, I'd be fine, I reasoned. Satisfied, we continued down the trail.
"The trail isn't marked as well as I'd hoped," Kyle said. He stopped and slipped off his backpack to pull out the trail guide map. He stared at the map for a few minutes. He glanced up and his eyes darted around, his forehead creased.
"What is it?" I chuckled and took the opportunity to sit down and fix my socks. "Don't tell me we're lost already."
"I don't see how we could be lost. We've followed the path the entire time," he said.
I shrugged. "Don't ask me. My sense of direction sucks."
He chuckled. "Nice. Leave it to me to pick a hiking partner who's directionally challenged."
"You're the expert. I'm just here to make the scenery more beautiful," I teased.
A smile curved at the corners of his mouth. "There should be a natural spring along here somewhere. We take a right once we reach that, and the trail is supposed to dead end at the old abandoned mine."
"Dead end. Great. Something to look forward to," I said rolling my eyes. I stood and checked the straps on my back pack. "We all set then?"
He nodded and started leading the way.