ELBERT PASS

The dark clouds swept low, touching the white horizon. The sun was but a dull bead sunk deep into their fluffy exterior.

His feet felt numb and weighted. Chunks of ice had frozen to the soles. The icy air slithered under his coat, inhabiting his skin.

His hands had turned to a deep blue. At least the burning pain had stopped. Trudging on in the snow, every turn had begun to feel familiar. Every heavy snow coated tree now looked the same.  He had been wondering for days in this godforsaken forest, searching for his last hope.

He paused for a moment, scanning the sky. It had been a bad idea; he knew it now.

They had started as a party of three. They had planned out their supplies, marked the stopping points, checked the weather countless times, and even acted out emergency situations. You would have thought the last one may have helped.

But this mountain was unforgiving. It unleashed an arsenal of Mother Nature’s hatred. Her relentless pounding of ice and snow. Everyone told them that it gets bad on the outer rim at Elbert Pass. But they didn’t listen. They could do it.

Just above the pines, a wisp of smoke curled into the clouds. His heart beat accelerated and a hot rush of adrenaline flooded his veins.  He desperately wanted to cry out, but the strength was not in him.

“Go,” he said to himself. “Push harder.” He recoiled the new fire inside his self and headed towards the smoke. If he could make it, at least the stories of the souls lost could, too.

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