Once again following the small stream, Bob made his way up into the foothills. Passing by the knoll he had climbed earlier, he continued up the canyon from which the brook issued, listening to the the water babble cheerfully as it flowed down the rocky hillside. As Bob ascended, the canyon narrowed, and he found himself occasionally jumping from one side of the creek to the other in a bid to keep his feet dry. He carried on for some time until he reached a spot where the water cascaded down a sheer drop of about fifteen feet. Finding some handholds, he carefully clambered up the rock face, pausing at the top to catch his breath.
Surveying the valley floor, Bob looked for signs of habitation. From the mountains on the far side of the basin to those closest at hand, the cabin below was the only man-made object in sight. Turning his attention to the water on the plain, he noted multiple streams flowing into the lake and one significant river flowing out on the opposite shore.
Taking a long drink from the brook at his side, Bob renewed his trek up the canyon, winding his way through trees and occasionally crossing small clearings. As he worked his way farther up the mountain, the stream diminished in size to a small rivulet. Presently, he came to a bowl-shaped glade in the trees where the brooklet emerged from the ground. Resting in the shade of a tree not far from the spring, the earthman dug into his pack, pulling out the makings of a late lunch. After eating, he lay back on the grass and stared up at the puffy white clouds in the blue sky. Enjoying the pleasant surroundings, he began preparations to camp for the night.
The next day, Bob awoke, ate a quick breakfast, and began his journey anew. Ascending the far edge of the bowl, he followed the hillside as it dipped slightly and then continued upward to an apparent summit. Bob spent the morning working his way up the steep incline. The hike was not nearly as enjoyable without the merry sounding stream at his side, and the morning sun made the climb uncomfortably warm.
As he neared the top, Bob turned and looked back. Around the edge of the valley, hazy purple mountains rose in ranks one after another. The lake and plain below were surrounded by tall peaks. Resuming his ascent, Bob reached the summit and peered at the landscape beyond. More mountains rose before him.
He had half-expected to find himself in a large dome with walls rising up from the ground. If this were a dome, it would have to be very large indeed. As far as he could see in any direction, mountains rose into the clear sky, growing fainter and fainter in the distance. It would take weeks to find a way through them on foot. Sitting on the hill, resting in the breeze, Bob suddenly felt very alone. This place was beautiful and completely isolated.
On a whim, he tried to imagine a cup of cider into existence as he had done before in the cabin. Nothing appeared. He sat for a long time, staring down into the valley below. Finally arising, he started slowly back down the mountain.
Copyright (C) 2018 Winslow Williams. All rights reserved.