Wolf Girl…Friday: Vacation, Part 2

“It is way too hot out here,” Niamh complained, fanning her beet-red face with her hand.  Her normally tidy hair was plastered to her neck in messy, sweaty tendrils.  Cassie shot me an annoyed look, which I answered with a “you’re the one who invited here out here” look, complete with innocent head tilt.

Niamh was right, though, it was way too hot out here; Cassie and I just didn’t react to the heat quite like a “normal” human would.  What would make someone like Niamh sweat buckets invigorated us.  Though we’d started our fifteen-mile hike early in the morning, when the sun was barely up and the air around us was cool and quiet, it had not stayed that way.  With no internet connection or cell phone service, we couldn’t check the daily forecast and had only planned for a normal hike, not for one in almost 100-degree weather.

We were barely halfway through the hike, and while Niamh had kept up easily during the first hour (honestly, shoving your way through thick rush-hour traffic on Fifth Avenue really wasn’t all that different from hiking on a remote trail in the woods), she wasn’t dealing well with the heat and had exhausted our meager water supply early on.   Since then she’d been complaining about her feet, the heat, and how dumb we’d been to only bring one bottle of water for each of us, and why wouldn’t I share Lacey’s water with her?  Cassie looked ready to snap, and I placed a restraining hand on her arm.

I cocked my head, hoping to hear the trickle of a stream nearby, but only heard the usual forest noises–a breeze ruffling the leaves in the tops of trees, birdcalls, and the occasional squirrel dropping nuts to the ground.  While it wouldn’t be smart to drink the water, we could at least stop and splash the cool water on our faces.

“Can’t we at least stop and rest for a bit?” Niamh begged, bending over and leaning her hands on her knees.  Cassie was for pushing on and getting back to camp quickly, but one look at Niamh told me there was no way this city girl was going to make it another mile, let alone seven, if we didn’t give her a reprieve.  We found a mossy log, and Niamh collapsed on it, relieved to be off of her feet.  I, not too long ago, had been just as city as Niamh.  Moving to the middle of nowhere, Wyoming, and then going furry once a month changed that quickly.  I wasn’t really sure how Niamh was going to survive the next four days of sleeping in a tent and showering in a communal shower.

Somehow, we managed to baby Niamh through the last miles of the hike.  When we stumbled back into camp, she grabbed a bottle of water from the cooler and stalked off to the showers.  Cassie swiped my car keys and volunteered to go get us more ice, since what was in the cooler was now mostly tepid water.

Looking around, I realized for the first time in days, I was alone, except for Lacey.  Lacey, however, was always good company.  She never complained, was always happy to see me, and the only bad quality she had was the fact that she loved to lick my face.  And honestly?  That wasn’t much of a bad quality.  I grabbed my own bottle of water and sat on the picnic table between our campsite and the one next door, enjoying the silence.  Lacey, also tired from our hike, flopped over on her side underneath the table.

The silence was delicious.  I zoned out, staring out into the dense woods that surrounded the campsite.  This is what I had been looking for when I decided to go camping.  Peace, quiet, and solitude.  I’d wanted an opportunity to be alone and think about the changes my life had gone through in the past year.  Babysitting Niamh and keeping Cassie from killing her wasn’t leaving me much time for reflection, however.

Cassie pulled up to the campsite and found me still staring off into the woods.  “Is Niamh still in the showers?” Cassie asked, a frown on her face.  A glance at my watch told me that Cassie had been gone for almost an hour, and the look on her face told me that she wondered if Niamh always took that long in the bathroom.
“I guess,” I said vaguely, still lost in my thoughts.  “Maybe we should go make sure she didn’t like…slip and hit her head or something.  Those tiles can be slick when they’re wet.”  The two of us (Lacey decided to keep sleeping under the picnic table) headed over to the showers.  Our campsite was located close to the back of the campground, while the showers were close to the entrance, where the owners lived year round.  It took us almost ten minutes to walk there, but it was an easy walk on an asphalt road.

“Niamh?” I called into the row of showers.  I could hear one of them running, and I was loath to intrude upon her nakedness in the shower.  There was no answer, though, so Cassie and I began carefully checking each of the showers and the cubbies near them.  I pulled back the curtain on the running shower, half expecting Niamh to shriek at me, but the stall was empty.  Niamh’s shampoo and soap sat on the shelf, though, and the water bottle she’d grabbed at the campsite lay uncapped on its side underneath it.

“Did you find her?” I called out to Cassie, who replied negatively.  All she’d found was Niamh’s sweat dirty hiking clothes and a hairbrush.  I shut off the water and joined Cassie in the middle of the room.

“Where did she go?” Cassie wondered, and I shrugged my shoulders.  “I don’t know, but I’m starting to get worried.  It’s not like Niamh to wander off, especially in the middle of the woods.  Cassie and I stared at each other, mystified.  It appeared that Niamh had gone missing on us.

Here’s Wednesday’s missing post.  Oh my!  Niamh, were did you go?  Find out in Part 3 on Wednesday!!

Published in: on August 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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