2017 Erotica story: The Secrets of Liberty Mountain – Chapter 13
“This is Liberty base. The National Weather Service has issued a revised winter storm warning for our area. Forecasters are calling for up to 36 inches of snow starting tonight at 5 PM with blizzard conditions beginning at 6:30 PM. Snow will continue throughout the evening and into late tomorrow afternoon. Winds south by southwest 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 120 mph along exposed ridges. Return home immediately. Please acknowledge.”
“It’s too bad we can’t acknowledge a message we never received,” Alice said as she turned off the radio’s power.
I scanned the sky overhead. The wispy streaks of morning clouds of had given way to a high hazy overcast. Tops of advancing clouds were beginning to appear on the western horizon. The minuscule amount of weather lore I still remembered from my days as a Tenderfoot Scout told me high thin clouds and Mare’s tails were telltale signs of approaching storm systems and usually signaled that a weather front was moving in.
We left base around 9:00 AM and had been on the trail for almost four hours. If we return now, we would make it home with barely 30 minutes to spare before the storm hit.
“We need to turn back if we are going to beat the snow,” I urged Alice.
“No fucking way! I’m not getting this close without bringing back Bambi Burgers,” she replied with a look of determination that could blister paint.
“Besides, we can get down to the valley floor and back in less than 30 minutes. We should have time to spare. Not much, but enough. I didn’t come this far to go back empty handed.” I wasn’t going to win this argument.
The 30-degree angle of the slope and the sheer granite face of the nearly treeless ridge made for a treacherous descent. We had almost made it to the base of the ridge when our rocky trail abruptly narrowed before ending in a dead end at the edge of a vertical cliff. It was fucking frustrating. We were within a hundred feet of the valley floor. As far as we were concerned, our goal could just as well been on the dark side of the moon.
“Shit! I missed the turn, we’re on the wrong trail,” Alice swore as she reached for the radio and turned on the power.
Haste makes waste, but I kept my thoughts to myself as I scanned the sky.
“Liberty Base this is Hunter One, come in, please. Over,” Alice paused and repeated her call, “Liberty Base this is Hunter One, come in, please. Over.” It was useless. A granite slab a mile thick stood between our location and the base’s radio receiver, effectively blocking out our signal. The steady hiss of static ruled the airwaves. Alice handed me the radio’s microphone and instructed me to repeat the call to base every five minutes.
Backing up the steep slope was a royal pain in the ass. Reverse gear is slow, and the best speed our mule could manage up the incline was not much faster than a slow walk. Our retreat finally paid off when we came to a wide spot on the trail after 20 minutes of travel. Alice executed a tight 3-point-turn, and at last, the front of the ATV pointed in the right direction.
The trail up the side of the ridge was difficult to follow. The overcast changed the light. None of the landmarks we passed on the way down looked like the ones we were passing on the way back up the trail.
We blazed our own path and followed the contours of the ridge in an ever upward journey. We hit a series of dead ends where we were forced to turn around, back track and start over. Slow and steady wins the race in fairy tales. In our case, we won the ridge in an hour and thirty-six minutes and lost our race against the clock.
We used too much time backtracking, and there was no way in hell we would be able to make it home before the weather turned to shit. Unless we could find a sheltered place to hunker down and ride out the blizzard, we would both be dead before dawn.
“Do we have the time and tools we need to build a lean-to?” I asked.
“Good idea. We have the tools, but we don’t have the time. We’ve gotta find something almost ready made – like a cave, rock overhang, or a cluster of fallen trees,” Alice said as she handed me a pair of binoculars.
We drove to an outcropping with a good overview of the eastern face of our ridgeline.
“Scan to the north, and I’ll scope out the south,” Alice said as she lifted her binoculars and searched our southern flank.
The heavy overcast of clouds reduced the daylight in the valley to near twilight conditions even though sunset was still 45 minutes in the future. In a classic case of the lull before the storm, the wind died down to almost nothing. I felt a drop of wetness on my cheek and a few moments later another on my nose. Like the advance scouts of an approaching army, the first flakes of snow explored the ground around us.
“Damn it! There’s nothing to the south of us!” Alice growled in frustration.
To the north, the slope of the ridge gave way to a nearly vertical drop. Conditions were favorable to the formation of rock shelters. Over the eons, slabs of granite had broken away and tumbled to the ground. I was looking for anything resembling a natural rock lean-to or cave opening.
“Alice! I think I got something,” I shouted with more hope than conviction as I pointed to a dark shadow in a land of shadows at the base of the granite cliff.
My partner studied the rock feature with her binoculars for a moment before slamming the ATV into drive and racing forward to possible sanctuary.
Hope turned to disappointment. After twenty minutes of driving, as we got close enough to see the details of our target. We were well and truly fucked, the rock outcropping was too large and exposed to serve as a shelter. Daylight was nearly gone, and snow was falling as fast as the thermometer.
“Now what the hell do we do?” Alice pounded the steering wheel in anger flavored with fear.
“Let’s check that out,” I said pointing to a stand of saplings about 100 yards to the left of the useless overhang. Maybe we could construct an emergency lean-to from the young Aspens.
We drove across the ground covered by a dusting of snow, and dismounted our vehicle. Flashlights in hand we inspected the thin grove of trees.
“Holy shit, there’s a cave opening back here,” Alice shouted and pointed to a five or six foot wide, six foot tall opening at the base of the cliff behind the trees.
The remains of the aborted attempt at gold mining was hidden behind the stand of saplings. We explored the inside of the cave with our flashlights. Thankfully, it was uninhabited. The dry and dusty floor of the tunnel sloped upward to a level area, which formed a low, cramped chamber about fifteen feet across and twenty feet deep. At the most, we had about four feet of headroom. Whoever had been looking for gold hit a dead end, gave up, and went home. Bad for them, lucky for us.
“Unload the Mule and get our stuff inside, while I cut down as many saplings as I can with our survival saw,” I said as I grabbed the folding cutting tool from the ATV’s cargo bay.
My plan was as desperate as it was simple. Cut as many of the young aspens as possible, slide the trees into the cave opening, and use the thin branches and remaining leaves to block the wind. As the storm raged, the crowns of the trees would collect snow and form an impenetrable shield against the wind. At least that was the theory. The narrow trunks of the young trees were only four or five inches in diameter, and the saw made for fast work. Within fifteen minutes, I had almost a dozen saplings down on the ground.
I had finished cutting the trees and by the time I was done, snow and night were all around us. Winter had arrived with a vengeance.
Alice finished bringing the last of our gear into the cave, and together we hauled away at the fallen aspens to plug the entrance as best as we could. Alice and I had no choice; the rock cavern would be either our salvation or our grave.
As I adjusted the position of the last tree, Alice screamed, “Snakes! Oh my God, look at ’em all, the fucking cave is filled with rattlesnakes.”
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 2
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 3
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 4
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 5
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 6
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 7
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 8
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 9
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 10
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 11
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 12
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 13
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 14
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 15
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 16 T
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 17
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 18
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 19
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 20
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 21
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 22
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 23
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 24
- The Secrets of Liberty Mountain - Chapter 25