|Image credit Tony Guyton|
Welcome back! This is the third installment of “Atop Mt. Lonely” – we’ve just left our heroines (Carlee and Marlee) at the base of the mysterious Mt. Lonely. To catch up on the story so far, check out part one and part two posted over the last two weeks.
Atop Mt. Lonely (part three)
After the two girls finishing fastening their harnesses, they began the climb up Mt. Lonely. They started by attempting to scale the steep rock mountain. When this proved to be extremely strenuous, the twins switched to using their pitons.
With a grunt, Marlee heaved herself on top of a rock overhang. She took deep breaths, watching her sister struggle to join her on the overhang. Once she was over the edge, Carlee let out a sigh and leaned against the rock mountain. The earth swirled below them and the parking lot already looked extremely far away.
The winds grew stronger and faster as they climbed Mt. Lonely, but the girls continued on. They were thrilled to learn that they were already half way up the mountain just a few hours into their climb.
Carlee clicked open a jug of water from her back pack. Marlee munched on a tuna sandwich thoughtfully, studying the other half of the mountain the girls still had in front of them.
“It looks like if we moved over there…the wind would be to our backs. Otherwise we keep fighting this wind,” Marlee announced, motioning across the mountain cliff.
Carlee shook her head. “Let’s just keep the way we’ve been going. We’ll waste time getting all the way over to there, just to have the winds to our backs. Plus, it’ll be more of a challenge this way,” she insisted with a grin.
Marlee frowned. “It’s safer my way.”
“But its more practical my way,” Carlee argued.
The girls sat in silence as they finished their lunch. Suddenly a thought struck Marlee.
“It’s my turn to decide because you got your way down at the foot at the mountain,” she declared.
Carlee paused thoughtfully. “That doesn’t count. Let’s just flip the coin again, and let fate decide,” she suggested.
Marlee nodded in agreement. She yanked out her coin and flung it into the air. The strong winds grasped the puny coin and swirled it in its course around the mountain. The penny finally went toppling down the side of the mountain. Marlee groaned.
“Well, now we know what to do!” Carlee announced, standing up.
“What do you mean? I lost my coin, we never saw whether it was heads or tails,” Marlee snapped.
“Yes, but did you see what side of the mountain it fell down?”
“Yes. Your point?”
“Obviously we’re meant to continue our climb on my side of the mountain.”
“Unbelievable,” Marlee muttered, standing up and brushing herself off. “But we’ve already wasted enough time on this. We’ll go your way.”
“Excellent choice!” Carlee laughed as she thrust her piton into the rock and the twins once again began their climb.
The girls continued their climb up Mt. Lonely. The winds became more and more aggressive as they ascended higher and higher. The temperatures began to drop and the girls had to stop frequently to add more layers. As they climbed higher, the rocks also became more brittle.
Carlee gripped the stone mountain. Rocks slid from beneath her feet, brushing against Marlee, who was only feet below her.
“How’s it going?” Carlee called to Marlee, struggling to make herself heard above the whipping wind.
Marlee rolled her eyes and yelled back, “Fine, but we should have gone my way!”
Carlee laughed. She paused and leaned forward against the mountain, looking down at the world swirling below Mt. Lonely. She could see the small town of Carson City in the far, far distance. White clouds hung in the air against the blue sky.
She looked down at her sister, who seemed to be struggling. She was just about to yell down to Marlee to go more slowly, when the ground beneath her sister’s feet disappeared. With a small scream, Marlee scratched for a grip but went flying into the air.
The rope secured around each other’s waist tightened around Carlee. She used all the strength she had left to slam herself against the mountain. She scraped at Mt. Lonely with her hands, desperately trying to find something to grab. She looked over at her pitons and prayed they would hold.
Finally, she found a hold and gathered the courage to look down at her sister. Thoughts of her sister tumbling down the mountain, or slamming unconscious against the hard rock, or even the rope somehow wrapping around her neck, flooded her mind. Instead, Marlee was still there, the rope still secured around her waist. She swung herself over to the rock wall, and the pressure was taken off Carlee’s waist.
Marlee gave a thumbs up with a shake of her head. Carlee sighed in relief. This mountain was proving to be more than she bargained for, after all.