The best thing about this little sprout of a canyon was that it was on my scale, and Mom and I climbed in and out over the rocks, taking in the canyon from all angles. Then we walked out over the sandstone plane that surrounded the canyon-let, losing the trail almost as often as Mom took pictures. Come to think of it, I’m not so sure we were following a trail at all, so much as wandering from one interesting thing to another.
she kept staring up toward where the sunrise should have been. Instead of a sunrise, there was a giant mountain covered in an armor of thorny rock spikes. Puffy clouds were stuck in the spikes like trash stuck a fence along the freeway, and those clouds were lit up from underneath by the missing sunrise. The whole thing worked like a trap to pull on Mom's eyes like a giant billboard that said CLIMB ME.
Below, the crinkly and broken land looked like someone had crumpled and wadded up the blacktop of the world’s largest car kennel, and then changed their mind and tried to flatten it out again. On top of the cliff, the brick-grey rocks and scrubby bushes stretched out in a long plane to eternity in every direction but one.
Even though it was very easy to follow, Mom tripped and swore almost as often as she took pictures because the big rocks above our heads kept stealing her eyeballs making the rocks under us steal her feet.
Suddenly, I heard a loud rumbling coming from high on the mountain. It sounded like a crack of thunder, and rumbled in my ears like a gunshot. But it went on for too long to be either a gun or thunder, and had too many sharp new sounds buried inside to be just a disturbance in the air like an echo.
Just at that moment, a man-Oscar in running clothes with hiking chopsticks came bounding up the trail behind us, running with the same rockethorse enthusiasm as me. He had the kind of shapely butt that tights were invented for, and made a mountain man beard look tidy just by opening his toothpaste-ad smile in the middle of it.
“Fine,” she said, and chased after me with her shovel-arms. I would have gotten away if we weren’t tied together, but soon she caught me and lifted me onto the log herself. I stood there with my butt in her face and refused to move.
The next house we found really needed some maintenance. It was barely more than a pile of stones with a hole in it for a window, and half of the wall missing for another window. “They weren’t much into home improvement, were they?” I asked, shaking my head. “People never think of the labor when they build their houses in such inaccessible places.”
The walls swooped and lunged at us like ghosts as we wound through for almost half a mile. Then we turned a corner and found ourselves looking up at a rock taller than Mom’s head. “I’ve got just the thing,” Mom said, pulling off her packpack. Then she looked at it like someone had pulled a dirty trick on her. “Oh crap, the emergency sling is in the other pack.”