Jim put his gun back in its holster and the three friends started back down the mountain,
“That was a scary situation,” Jim said, as they walked down the trail. “I have never seen a Timber Rattler before.”
“They are one of God’s beautiful creatures, once you get past the myths and fears about snakes” George replied.
Old Blue barked happily as he zigzagged into the laurel around them. By now the heat of the day had set in and Jim could feel the sweat on his forehead and trickling down his back.
When they got back to the pines, the fawn and its mother were gone. They sat down on a big fallen log that looked like it had been lying there for at least the last ten years or more. Old Blue stopped at the creek for a quick drink before taking off into the underbrush again.
Jim took a long drink from his canteen. The water was no longer cold but felt really good going down his throat. George poured some water from his bottle on to his handkerchief and wiped his head and neck with it.
“You know.” said George, “I think this is the place where I saw he big buck and had my heart attack.”
“That must have been a scary time for you,” Jim replied.
“Yes,” George continued. “When my chest started getting tight, the pain was radiating down my left arm. I would never have made it back down to my truck if the search party from the Sheriff’s Office had not found me.”
They sat resting quietly, enjoying all the beauty that surrounded them. Blue was barking higher up along the ridge. In a few moments a doe came running through the laurel followed by a button buck. George signaled to Jim to sit very still. As they came closer, she stopped abruptly, sniffed the air, then turned and bolted off up the mountain.
George and Jim sat very still as they heard another deer coming through the brush. This one sounded much bigger than the first two. Jim’s eyes grew big when through the thicket came a large buck. It appeared to be an eight or ten pointer from the look of the antlers.
As the buck came closer, it also stopped, getting a whiff of the human scent in the air. He turned his head and looked straight at George, snorted and pawed the ground, before flicking its tail as he followed the doe up the mountain.
A few moments later, Old Blue came bounding through the underbrush barking up a storm.
“Wow!” said Jim excitedly, “did you see that? It was the biggest buck I have ever seen!”
George smiled, “That is the one I shot at right before I had my heart attack.”
“He looked right at you like he recognized you,” Jim exclaimed! “And did you see that beautiful rack? It must have been at least ten points.”
“He was a beauty,” mused George. “Old Blue must have flushed them out from their mid-day nap. You know, deer are color blind and if you remain still, they cannot tell you from a tree. They can, however, pick up your scent in the air, so they know you are nearby.”
George called old blue back from following the deer up the mountain, and they started walking back down the trail.
The rest of the hike down to the parking area was uneventful. Neither of them said much. Both Jim and George were replaying the drama of the day in their minds. What a great day it had been to get out in nature and revisit some ghosts from the past.
When they reached the truck, they all piled in and started down the road back home. Jim and Old Blue were quite tired, and it wasn’t long until they were both snoozing quietly. George smiled as they road along, with a feeling of satisfaction and appreciation for this wonderful moment in time. He knew Jim would soon be grown and off to college and days like this would only be a memory. But what a great memory it was; one to be remembered!
This completes my story of part II of The Climb. If you would like a free pdf. file copy of the whole story, email me a request at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you one.