Suzy walked out the front door, carrying her pack, and made a beeline for the picnic table where Steve was. It was a late summer afternoon, and she was ready for a short adventure.
Steve was ready to head out, standing there with his hikers on. This afternoon they were going to explore their own backyard so to speak. Suzy reached for his hand as she walked by. “Come on, let’s go.”
He resisted a moment, pulling her just hard enough that she stepped back closer to him, and planted a kiss on her lips. “Okay, now we can go.”
Suzy chuckled a little as she turned to lead Steve to the edge of the stream. The former owners left a plank across to the conservation area which bordered their property.
Suzy pretended to be walking a tightrope, extending her hands out to each side as she crossed then hopped off the end and turned to take a bow.
Steve rolled his eyes, but also laughed. Sometime Suzy could be a nut. He finished crossing as well, then took the lead.
They had found a trail marker not long after moving in, but today was the first time they journeyed out on it. Steve knew about the area, he had already looked up details about it including elevation changes and other conditions, but the trail was still new to both of them.
Suzy stayed back, tracing Steve’s step as best as her shorter legs could. The trail was easy at first, with trees shading their walk and keeping them protected from the summer sun. They happened upon a couple of craggy points, but nothing too major.
The trail for the most part paralleled the stream and the water was typically in their sights. Eventually they came to a fork in the trail, one continued up stream, the other turned up a steep hill.
“So, which way, Suzy?”
She smiled. “Up!”
Steve was a little shocked; the trail along the stream was smooth sailing, but there was no telling where the other fork led.
Suzy just kept on smiling as they both found their own ways to scramble up the small incline. Little did Steve know, there was a surprise ahead. Suzy read about it in one of the letters left behind from a previous resident.
They continued to make their way on the trail when they came to a clearing. It was only a short walk from the house, but Steve stopped in amazement. He walked out to the middle of the clearing and turned around.
From here, they had a clear view of the sky above as well as the Rockies. In the field stood a small bald atop a rocky crag climbing out from the grassy field.
Suzy took Steve by the hand, “Come, let’s check it out!”
Together, they climbed up the rock jutting out from the ground. It reminded her of Garden of the Gods a bit. When they reached the top, she removed her pack and set up their dinner while Steve looked around.
“Come, sit. I have a light so we can get home later.” She patted a spot next to her as he walked back her way. The sun was still above the mountains giving them plenty of time to eat and relax before heading back.
Suzy and Steve found themselves surrounded by nature. They looked over the field below and a small fawn found its way into the clearing. The sky slowly started to change colors as the sun headed towards the mountain tops.
Suzy mused aloud, “I never thought we’d get here.”
Steve looked at her, perplexed. It wasn’t that far from the house. She recognized his befuddlement.
“No, not here. But here, together.” She rocked her feet back and forth, a habit since she was a small child. It calmed her. “It’s like some dream at times.”
Steve just smiled at her with a Cheshire grin. “I never doubted it.”
He leaned in for a kiss, but she resisted for a moment. She wouldn’t let him stay puckered up for too long though.
They continued to share and talk. In the quiet moments they pointed out the birds and watched the skies as the sun settled. Soon, the stars came out then they heard a not too pleasant sound rummaging through the field below.
Steve took the light and quickly scanned the field. He turned to Suzy and with a finger across his lips whispered “Bear.”
Suzy’s eyes grew and she became a little uneasy. Steve patted her shoulder reassuringly. “Black bear, not grizzly.” He turned off the light and allowed their eyes to adjust to the twilight sky. He pointed in the bear’s direction.
They watched the bear wander through the field. Suzy quickly closed up their food containers, worried he was drawn here by their smell. Then she moved it away from the two of them, as if the bear was headed their way.
Steve shook his head, but kept an eye on the bear until he wandered out of view and back off in another direction.
Once the concern had passed, Steve laid out on the blanket and put his arm behind his head as a rest, watching the stars. “We may never need to go camping elsewhere. This is perfect. Did you know it was here?”
“I read about it in one of Lottie Baird’s letters. Apparently she wrote her husband about finding it when he was away during the Korean War. His letters were in the box.”
“Do you know if he made it home?” Steve asked, reflecting on his own time in service.
Suzy curled up next to him and hugged him. “Yes, he did. They had two girls when he returned.”
Steve interlaced his fingers from his free hand with hers. “Thank you for finding this place, for dreaming it for us.”
She leaned up and kissed him sweetly.