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Wiping the sweat from my brow I called a halt to the crew. Phil and I dumped our packs and found a comfy boulder to rest on. I looked back to where the last guys were coming from back down the trail. They had stopped talking a while back and marched slowly along the dirt trail. Phil produced an energy-bar he'd saved from breakfast and began to munch on it as I drained another water bottle. After the refreshing drink I laid back against the rock and stared up at the pine trees. But a moment later, hearing grumble about sore legs, I sat up, grinning, "By the map we only have another couple hours." After one look Phil recognized the sarcasm and followed suit, "Is that all? Whoohoo, Yippee hooray. Lets jump for joy." "Well this is one of the hardest legs of the trip you know," I said more seriously. "The altitude change is about 3,000 ft. and it is at least 10 miles." "I'll just be happy when it's over and I'm can sleep." "Yup." We sat there for a few more minutes then I got up and yelled for everyone to get ready to start moving again. I donned my pack and tightened the straps, and after making sure everyone else was ready, started off down the winding trail to the night's campsite. It was our fifth day in the Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico, the halfway point of the trek. I as the Crew Leader was responsible for the other 11 members of the crew, including 4 adults. I was in charge, and amazingly the adults rarely tried to take over, although they would strongly advise me what to do in some situations. Phil, with the exception of me, the oldest scout and the Chaplain for the trip, was my second. Together we dealt with problems of making sure everyone carried the right amount of stuff in their pack to who had to cook and cleanup each day. The trip had gone well so far, no injuries, and the worst problem had been a faulty backpack. As I walked I thought about the upcoming campsite. Supposedly this one had running water from a solar powered pump"”so had the last night's site but the tank was too low to use for anything but cooking because the of how cloudy it had been of late. But today was bright and shinny, and hot, so I didn't think there would be a problem. It was simply amazing hiking out there, the mountains covered in tall trees that dug into the rocky soil, the beautiful sky, when visible. Even in the midst of strenuous exercise I still enjoyed it. Especially reaching the peaks of the mountains, today was especially interesting because we spotted Baldy Mountain in the distance, the tallest peak in Philmont 12,500ft., and would be the hardest climb of the trip. It had looked so far away it was hard to believe I would be on top of it in a few days. Besides in the campsites, we only saw one other group of people during the entire 12 day trek and the only human sounds were our own. Each camp was an island of civilization in a great sea of wilderness, and a wonderful solace to end the day's hike. We had been walking a long time today. Waking up at 6:00, we had eaten and broken camp down quickly so we would make it to the next campsite before nightfall. We had begun hiking at 7:00 a.m. and besides hourly five minute breaks, and only stopped twice"”for lunch and to put mole skin on Mr. Smith's feet. Usually I walked up front with Phil but a few times someone would ask to be the lead man and I would let them. We would chat for a good portion of it: complain about soreness or complain about other's complaining we only complained to each other because leaders can't show weakness, hehe, talk about home, good food which was non-existent out there, and the day's activities. And, sometimes we'd walk for an hour in silence. As we rounded a bend and approached the slope up the last small mountain of the days hike, I noticed a flash of light in the distance. "Uh ohhh." Phil looked at me questioningly. "Lightening." I explained. "Oh Great!" He said moodily, "You think we'll make it before it hits?" I looked at it a while appraisingly and replied, "Hope so. Pull out the map real quick." He reached into my pack and pulled the large map out, folding it so only today's hike was shown. By then the adults had come up to see why we stopped. "What's going on?" My dad asked. I pointed at the approaching storm as I measured the distanced left to travel on the map, "That's a problem, we need to make it over the last ridge before that hits or we'll have to wait it out, which would mean getting into camp real late, real cold, and real tired." It may have been hot during the days but the temperature dropped drastically once the sun set, especially after a rain. Mr. Nick looked at the map, "You're right, we'll have to pick up the pace." Thunder boomed ominously in the distance as I turned to rest of the crew, most of whom had already taken advantage of the break to sit down, "Guys, I know you're tired, we all are, but we have to start moving faster if we want to beat that storm over the ridge." A few groans of protest came but they all got back up. "Lets get moving we can't waste time." We set out at brisk pace, the sky began to darken and I could see the rain falling at a distance, Phil and I were back at the front. We both knew this was pretty serious, if we didn't get over in time, we could all be in trouble. The storm could force us to wait on this side of the slope, an hour away from camp. If it lasted too long we would be left with a choice of trying to hike at night on wet ground, or trying to set up tents on the side of a mountain. Another problem was food and water. All the food we carried was dehydrated, needing lots of water in order to cook and eat, and we only brought water for the hike, not for cooking. Even if the campsite didn't have running water, it would have a stream--which was fine since we had filters--but if we didn't get there we would have no food and little water. I looked back and could see strain in faces, they also new, but that did not change exhaustion. Mr. Watkins was lagging behind so I slowed down a little, there was no point in getting over if we all didn't make it. Halfway up it was beginning to look doubtful, the wind was picking up and everyone was getting out rain gear to prepare for the storm. I voiced my doubts to Phil and he said we might as well keep going until the lighting got too close. So we did. The thunder grew in volume and the echoes magnified the noise to a dull roar sometimes. Then suddenly it began to ebb. The wind died down and lightening came less frequently. I exchanged relieved looks with Phil after a bit, but kept the pace up--I didn't want to take chances. Eventually it hit us, but by then it was nothing more then a heavy rain. We kept moving, if slower, and made it over the ridge with no other problems. That night I enjoyed the meal a little more and slept a little deeper realizing how much is important that easily goes unnoticed until something threatens to take it away.
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Wiping the sweat from my brow I called a halt to the crew. Phil and I dumped our packs and found a comfy boulder to rest on. I looked back to where the last guys were coming from back down the trail. They had stopped talking a while back and marched slowly along the dirt trail. Phil produced an energy-bar he'd saved from breakfast and began to munch on it as I drained another water bottle. After the refreshing drink I laid back against the rock and stared up at the pine trees. But a moment later, hearing grumble about...
to a dull roar sometimes. Then suddenly it began to ebb. The wind died down and lightening came less frequently. I exchanged relieved looks with Phil after a bit, but kept the pace up--I didn't want to take chances. Eventually it hit us, but by then it was nothing more then a heavy rain. We kept moving, if slower, and made it over the ridge with no other problems. That night I enjoyed the meal a little more and slept a little deeper realizing how much is important that easily goes unnoticed until something threatens to take it away.
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His face was tranquil and still,...His face was tranquil and still, the force of fortitude in the midst of the chaotic flickering of light that danced across his lips. Illuminated as violence played across the screen of the television, he lay at rest across the room: a distance not unconquerable in terms of metrics, but invincible in measures that mattered. His face fell dark as the parallel universe closed a dramatic sequence. The mundane impact of the "Mute" button only added to the gap bridged solely by the light, as the room was saturated by his regular breathing patterns. In the still silence of the isolation inflicted by the pitch black of outside, his inhalations seemed to shake the walls- providing a rhythm for the choreographic light. The soft sounds of feathers on down comforters made her hold her breath in contrast. As he exhaled, she let her mascara weigh down her eyelids; her own lips parted, allowing the air to roll out in smooth sheets of warmth and innocence. Listening to his simple breaths, she felt her body tingle as though it were composed of an infinite fluttering body of butterflies, making her skin seem an intricately passionate living organism. She felt the corners of her lips turn gently upwards in an involuntarily smile. She opened her eyes and rested her gaze upon his face, blue from the television light. His lips twitched and at once she was forced to suppress her urge to kiss them, for fear he might wake and disrupt the moment "“ which lasted for whole hours, brimming with the paradox of calm calamity. She immediately withdrew her gaze from his mouth, blinking back and redirecting her look up his top lip and over his nose, settling on his eyes. His eyelids were smooth and delicately thin and she remembered them in their moments of conversation, when they would flicker with excitement and speak the words before his mouth did. Wistfully, she recalled staring deeply into them on occasion, intrigued by the patterns embedded in the irises. But now they lay peacefully, only serving as projection screens to recount the tales of the haphazard light. His head rolled toward his arm, causing a strand of hair to fall gently over his right eye, where it met his eyelashes and embedded them in an inferno. His hair, she thought. Rock star hair. An accurate representation of his overflowing façade of confidence. She had always detested rock star hair, long and slightly unkempt. But somehow it seemed perfect on him. She sighed deeply, knowing that it had been her job to make sure he didn't doze off. The time had come for her to kill the moment, just like all of her fascinations. Apprehensively, she extended her hand and brushed the hair off of his face, momentarily resting her hand where it stopped at his temple. He rolled slightly and his eyes tremored before slowly opening. He looked up at her and, upon recognition, smiled. "Hi there," he said, his voice faintly cracking while he adjusted to the subtle but active world that revolved around him. She leaned into him and gently kissed him on the forehead. "Hi." His smile grew so slightly at her response that only she would have noticed. "Whatcha up to?" he whispered. But she ignored his question and looked instead into his eyes, which now radiated life. "You're beautiful," she said matter-of-factly. And to this, he looked away and shyly rolled over, facing the television. She abstracted her attention away to the remote that rested in her left hand. She stroked the side of the black plastic, leaving temporary fingerprints from the oils in her skin. She built up her courage, then hit the "Mute" button "“ filling the room once more with the noise of the television, burying all remaining signs of the previous persona of the complex light ballet. And with this, she was no longer in an infinite space containing parallel galaxies and dances and feathers; instead the room had become just that: a room. She ran her fingers through the rock star hair as she pretended to pay attention to the movie. And almost as if he had not been oblivious to the life that had surrounded him as he slept, he leaned back to pull her free arm around his shoulders. As he did so, he removed the remote from her hand and let it fall to the floor, kissing her fingertips and settling into the futon.   

His face was tranquil and still, the force of fortitude in the midst of the chaotic flickering of light that danced across his lips. Illuminated as violence played across the screen of the television, he lay at rest across the room: a distance not unconquerable in terms of metrics, but...

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