"...I trusted in the Almighty… I knew I could only be killed once,
and I had to die sometime."
-Anne Bailey, 1823

Friday, June 8

Fear no Evil

“Yeh, though I walk through the valley of death I shall fear no evil.” The voices in my head cried over and over without end. “I shall fear no evil.” Again, “Yeh, though I walk through the valley of death.” And again…Yet, I did fear evil, for how could I not, when its black fingers were curled around my heart? “I shall fear no evil.” Lo, Powell’s glorious valley had once held beauty, sweetness and light for me, yet I was terrified it would no longer. Indeed, my deepest fear was Powell’s Valley and Mr. Martin’s station was now bereft of all sweetness and light for me.

Days ago, the fear which pursued me during the first hours of travel toward Powell’s Valley were slightly assuaged upon being joined by Mr. Goodwin, just south of the Falls of the Ohio. Pitt made a fine traveling companion, turning my attention toward lighter concerns.  My other most dear, dear companion, Katie Rose was sweetness her very self, asking a blue million questions about the land to which we traveled and those whom we would meet. Her hopes were high we would encounter a few friendly faces, whilst mine were merely that we not encounter those with ill intent. As the hours passed, I admit my spirits rose and I began to question if I’d overly concerned myself with ridiculous concerns.

Image by Harold Jerrell

Indeed, upon our arrival at the station, it had seemed my fears were entirely ridiculous. Captain Willyard’s Company had possession of the station whilst Captain Martin and his closest family attended to mourning the recent loss of his beloved grandmother. Captain Willyard showed Katie Rose and me to a small but comfortable cabin safe within the ramparts. 

Mr. Goodwin was kind enough to sleep just outside our door to further ensure our safety. The hour being very late, Kate and I set our belongings aside, unrolled our blankets, and crawled gratefully into the straw tick mattress as quickly as possible, paying no attention to the mites, bits, ticks or lice within. “Yeh, though I walk…”

All too soon the cock began to crow and the sun began to lighten the eastern sky. 

 The morning began with a hearty laugh from me as Pitt poked me repetitively in the head with a long stick through a small window in our cabin. He was intent upon waking me to obtain his pack which he had safely stowed in a corner of the cabin. Luckily I was already awake and highly amused by his prodding.  I swung my legs off the bed, scooped my skirts from the peg upon the wall, quickly laced my stays and opened the door to a cold and hungry Pitt.  It seems he had left his stockings in his pack and desperately wanted them! Laughing I swung the pack at him and pulled the door of the tiny cabin shut to allow Katie to rest a few more hours.

Fortune or a helpful soldier had smiled upon us and there were a few embers still aglow in the fort yard fire. Soon the women of the company began to gather their resources and cook for all assembled. As coffee is more important to my disposition than food, I made my own kettle of coffee and soon began to feel a bit more civilized. 

My dearest girl slept on, oblivious to the cock’s crow, the smell of rashers, or even my meddling within the small confines of the cabin. Eventually however, her pretty green eyes greeted me and a slight smile curled her lips, while curls of blond hair spilled unruly across the blankets. My mind raised the mantra once again, “Through the valley of death…” Upon rising, Kate had the chore of bringing in water. 

Once finished with her few chores she immediately set about searching for young ladies such as herself and was soon out of my sight. “I shall fear no evil…” my stomach knotted at the loss of her, even knowing she was safe and sound nearby.

I too found others such as myself, temporarily seeking the station’s shelter. Mistress Phyllis Preston, who had very recently suffered the loss of her dear husband Bradley, was found at the fire side. My most sincere condolences were heartfelt for her and her son Christopher. Her demeanor in receiving these paltry words can only be described as regal. Ah, one such as she is to be greatly admired. The strength of her grief belied by her fine comportment. A truer lady I've not seen in some time. 

Other women gathered in the fort yard, Mistress Willyard, Mistress Seacrest, were known to me, but there were others as well. We shared a greeting and soon I wandered out to the dogtrot to see my friends Randy Wolfe, Tony Baker and Tom Conde. All seemed to have weathered the winter well.

As is his usual manner Mr. Conde was intent upon his weaving, yet he took time away to greet me warmly and convey kind words. So, too Misters Fourman and Wolfe; Randy inquiring after Katie Rose’s curdog who had been a pup in the Wolfe pack. 

Mistress and Mr. Selter arrived at the station and I was heartily glad to have their company which is of such comfort to me.  Mr. Boone himself was traveling through the area and made a fine companion as well.

We friends passed the time telling stories in the fortyard until a bevy of girls burst like quail upon us with skirts flying and incessant chatter. Kate had found a covey of Doctor Robert’s girls; Lucy, Molly, Rosie and Sophie, as well as a few others, some of which were previously unknown to Katie Rose but with whom she had already become fast friends and had been adventuring with. A quick peck upon my cheek and once more they flew down the hill.
Image by Mark Selter
Image  from Chetworth del  Gatto (Floyd Foster)
Time seemed almost idyllic in its sweetness. Memories of other sojourns in this place flooded my mind and constant reminders of times gone by were brought upon the lips of others. Still, my heart remained true in my resolve and I politely nodded, said little, and remembered fondly. Day safely slipped easily into night, friends were reunited, songs sung, stories told. The night became full with the song of laughter, soft firelight flickered within the walls of the station, and all seemed right in the world. My sleep with my dear girl snuggled up beside me, was unblemished by nightmares, memories, tears, or fears.  Heavily, I rested until the early, early morning cock’s crow.

Morning came slowly upon the camp and I sought the refuge of coffee amongst friends. Captain Martin had returned to the station and I conveyed my most sincere condolences upon him and his dear wife learning of the loss of the captain’s beloved grandmother. Later, I strolled with my basket to see if perhaps there was a bauble or some such thing to be purchased from one of the many suttlers, but returned to the station with no such prizes. Though much the better for having spent time among friends. Once more, my sweet girl was slow to rise and quick to leave my sight, off on her own adventures.
Image from Tim Massey

Reports of savages arrived on the lips of our scouts and spies and once more the refrain began within my head “I shall fear no evil.” One may choose not to believe in evil, but the denial there of is no better protection than burying one’s head in the sand. For indeed, there was evil in Powell’s Valley and its face was painted black of night and red of blood.
Image from previous year

Image by Mark Selter
The first whoop of a war cry sent women and children running for all they were worth to the protection of the stockaded station. My recent losses were so keenly felt I did not join the women’s flight but rather, snatched up my firelock “Lucky” and set off toward my revenge. The emptiness of my heart made my choice an easy one for there was nothing, save my sweet girl whom I’d already seen safely within the walls, the savages could take from me. Howling my anger, my shots rang true and brought down a dog or two who’d intended to nip the heels of our men. Safely tucked beside a cabin, my back to the wall, I loaded round after hot round, pouring lead upon the heathens.
Image  from Chetworth del  Gatto (Floyd Foster)

Whilst I had thought all the children had made it safely within the confines of the station walls, I was sick at heart to see one of the good Doctor’s own children snatched and carried in the arms of a giant savage. 

Image  from Chetworth del  Gatto (Floyd Foster)

 So quickly did this bit of trickery take place I was caught in a rare moment unloaded and helpless to save the poor child. My screams of utter frustration mimicked those of the savages and for one split second a thought burst through my skull; perhaps it was this kind of loss which caused those red dogs to howl so heinously. Quickly this treasonous thought was squelched as images of the savages burning, killing, maiming, and squealing like wild pigs burned through my mind.

iImage  from Chetworth del  Gatto (Floyd Foster)

Image  from Chetworth del  Gatto (Floyd Foster)

Just as my anger spilled over into madness, one of the damned dogs leaped toward me, dropping everything I came at him tooth and claw. Unexpectedly, I caught the tail of this tiger! As quickly as my hands got purchase upon him,he turned, immediately intent on getting as far from this madness as possible!
image by John Buxton

Like thick fog rushing over the night sky obliterating the silvery light of the moon, the savages one by one began to disappear from this place, leaving naught but destruction behind.

I returned once more to the confine of the walls and as there were many gathered to hear the sadness of my story, I was compelled to tell it once more. I believe my tears moved more than one man to register with Lieutenant Minnis and the other men of Captain Willyard’s Company to fight the savages who had taken so much from me and others of this frontier.  
Image from the book of faces

Upon the conclusion of my story the greatest possible shock and surprise was visited upon me when my dear dear friend and artist Doc Muzzy stood before the assembled men and women and presented me with a portrait of my happiest days shared with my beloved Katie Rose. To see her sweet smile and her baby cheeks smiling up at me in the portrait brought tears once more to my already reddened eyes, though these were the most cleansing of tears, clearing my vision to see the absolute beauty before me. Words defy me to describe how utterly and deeply pleased this painting made me. Kate snuggled close in my arm and shyly admired the painting as well.  

from the book of faces

Following this bit of beauty we all rejoiced as Captain Martin announced the winner of a fine riflegun which had been built here within the fort walls and even in far off Williamsburg. All were well pleased to know the prize would be well loved by the lucky winner. Our revelry was shattered when once more the shriek of children reached our ears. Those rabid wretched dogs had once more attacked. All to arms was the cry and once more I grasped Lucky in my hand, glad to have my powder and shot pouch already at my side. 
Image by Harold Jerrell
Image by Harold Jerrell
 In the gloaming of the night those heathens had snuck close and set fire to the outlying cabins, sparks and flames crackled in the night like hell's gates themselves opening. Our men fought their best and steadily the sound of firelocks filled the night.
image by Mark Selter

Closer and closer they came, the black of their skin reflecting the flames. Their hideously painted eyes filled with rage, hatred and revenge. So close was one these wretched animals I was able to discern his twisted fingers curled round a war club. I fired, bringing down the man to his right but quickly realized there would be no time to reload before this savage beast was upon me. 

 “Yeh, though I walk through the valley of death I SHALL FEAR NO EVIL!” 

Image by Harold Jerrell
 My scream of defiance took the man by surprise, yet it did not slow him as the full weight of his body slammed into mine.  Fire burned through my veins and strength I did not know I had flushed within me and I brought the butt of my flintlock toward his head. Lightly he flung it aside, another at his hand immediately took my firelock from my grasping hands and all at once I was lifted from the ground flung screaming, kicking and hitting with all my might over the black shoulder of the running man. The bible verse I’d learned as child screamed from me unbidden over and over as I fought for my life wielding the knife I always wear at my side.

Behind one of the small cabins I was unceremoniously dumped to the ground and surrounded by savages. My heels dug into the hard dry earth as they tried to find purchase to hoist my weight.  One of the men spoke harshly and shoved me back to the ground with one hand while he pointed with the other. With no thought whatsoever, I rolled off my backside, onto my knees, dug my toes in and launched myself toward the fort.  My swirling skirts hampered my first steps landing me hard back down on one bloody knee.  Barely feeling the pain and knowing it was nothing compared to what I may feel if the savages caught me once more, I ran as fast as my weary legs would carry me. Nearly blind in the oncoming darkness, I tripped over the body of one of the men who had fought so bravely against the savages.
image by Mark Selter

Sprawling I barely registered the blood and gore, but did immediately lay my hands upon the man’s cocked flintlock.  Praying the words of that verse again, I came to a knee, balanced my elbow upon the other, and took aim at my enemy. Quickly, I realized they had not pursued me. Their attention had been taken in an entirely different direction as the good men from the fort gained ground with each volley. Seeing my opportunity, I sited down the unfamiliar barrel, took a breath and slowly squeezed the trigger. I glimpsed a tiny spark but the damned thing only produced a flash in the pan!

 I immediately ducked behind the widow’s cabin and dared glance around the corner. I could not believe my eyes, lying on the dusty ground beside my shot bag and horn was my flintlock! Is it any wonder I’ve named her Lucky! Once more my legs pumped with all their might and though my heart was in my throat and absolute terror nearly blinded me, I ran back toward the savages, intent upon regaining my belongings.
Indeed Luck was surely with me as I regained possession of my dear sweet Lucky. I threw the bag and horn straps over my shoulder and immediately loaded, sited and felt the satisfying recoil of a perfect shot. The dogs had already begun to slink back into the woods; the majority of our shots merely nipped their heels. The men of the Captain Willyard’s Company pressed on until the savages were out of sight entirely, their wild whooping and war cries filled the night as they disappeared into the darkness.
image by Mark Selter

Once more we gathered the wounded and dead and drug them into the safety of the walls. Tears, shouts and the occasional shot rang into the night. My dearest Katie Rose was safe and sound, asleep nestled into our blankets within the walls of our tiny cabin. I gave a prayer of thanks and dropped a kiss upon her sweet cheek. Friends old and new gathered into the fortyard around the fire. Revelry and singing burst forth as a sort of catharsis I believe. Rum punch flowed  as we told tales, laughed and let loose of our fears for the night. As a lark Mistress Frost and I put up a show of pugilism, which was greatly amusing, at least to us!
Jug by Jay Henderson, Punch Bowl and Mug by Lisa Jo Crews
Late, late in the night, a few trusted companions and I left the safe confines of the station and made our way in the complete darkness until we arrived just outside the firelight of the savage’s encampment. Entranced in their whoops and strange language, they danced like devils round the fire. Our mission to count them and determine if any captives remained alive was completed and we ran like the wind back to the fort to make our sad report. Sad, for though the savage fires burned bright there were no captives still living. Naught but a few buttons glowing hot upon the earth the only proof our men had been tortured to death but hours before. The screams I’d thought to be savage hours ago had more likely than not been the last mortal sounds of my own friends and countrymen. Finally, exhausted both physically and mentally, I crawled into the blankets with my sweet girl.  Once more together, our breathing mingled, and soon I too was sleeping.

Upon rising Sunday morning I was greatly heartened to find Parson John would be holding divine services for all assembled. My mood matched the grey sky and it was hard to keep tears from falling like the rain which had begun late in the night. Further, when the Parson invited all to partake at the Lord's table I was nearly overcome with emotion as is oft the case for me at such times. 
image by Retha n Ken Reece, Book of Faces
T'is my own personal burden which prevents me from quenching my thirst or satiating my taste for the Lord's offerings, and t'was surely only the presence dear dear Maggie Delaney that kept me from breaking down entirely. Sturdily she stood beside me, an arm round my shoulders briefly. The words which passed between us at the close of the service warm my heart even now. I wonder if she knows what a rock of faith she is to so many others with her quiet strength and warm smile? She is so very very dear for such a humble washer woman. 
Image by Frank Jarboe

Time at Mr. Martins’ Station was short, and all too soon Katie Rose, Mr. Goodwin, and I were saying our goodbyes to friends. Mother Nature unleashed a storm upon us just as we left the confines of the station making our travels even more difficult. Yet onward we traveled and hours later Kate and I bid a fond farewell to Pitt.

Though there were moments in Powell's Valley I’d sooner leave behind and forget forever, all in all it had not been nearly as bad as I had feared. The savages were pushed back, friendships were renewed, and though many a dream had died in Powell’s Valley many of us would live to see another day and dream other dreams.  Indeed, I felt I had walked in the Valley of Death and lived to tell the tale.

Special thanks to Chetworth del  Gatto (Floyd Foster), Mark Selter, Harold Jerrell, John Buxton, John Frank Jarboe, Tim Massey and Reetha N Ken Reece  for the use of their images. 

Wednesday, May 2

Spring Scout on Salt Creek

23 April
Morning mist swirled through the trees as I silently placed one foot in front of the other along the trail. My destination, the Story Inn and Ordinary was not far ahead and I was looking greatly forward to a cup of hot coffee. Though the days past had been unnaturally warm, the predawn chill and rain  reached its bony fingers deep inside my coat and left me shivering. Suddenly, through the trees shrouded in the fog my destination loomed darkly before me. No warm glow to meet me, no delicious smell of hot coffee, only a thick door solidly bolted against visitors in the night, or apparently the darkest hour of the day.

I shuffled my feet and hrumphed a few times hoping some generous soul inside would perhaps hear me and come to throw back the bolt and welcome me out of the rain. Once I realized my shuffling and hrumphing was to no avail I addressed myself to a chair upon the porch, huddled into the blanket I'd pulled from my bedroll and commenced to wait. Wait for the proprietor, wait for my friend Captain Jim Jacobs, wait for the other fellows who had determined to join this adventure, wait for any sign of life on this cold morning. I'd not long to wait since I'd set my standards so low; a large  and seemingly well fed black and white cat slunk upon the porch and promptly launched it's substantial girth into my lap. Normally, I'm not overly inclined toward felines, however this one was warm and willing to rest upon my lap allowing me to warm my hands by petting her silky fur. Clearly, this was no scavenger reliant upon her own devices. Her purring covered the growl in my stomach.

An hour passed slowly as the cat and I kept company and the sky began to transition from blackness to a lumpy gray. The rain slackened off to a fine mist once more and just as my eyes began to feel impossibly heavy I heard the crunch of stone beneath Captain Jacob's foot. The cat leaped from my lap as my head jerked up and I wobbled to a stand, horrified I'd been caught napping. Fortune and fog was on my side and I met Captain Jacobs and Mr. Terry Perkins alongside the road, them none the wiser to my catnap.

The Captain greeted me stoically as is his habit and informed me the rest of the men were assembled but a few miles ahead. Together, we three bemoaned the fact the innkeeper had not seen fit to rise with the sun to provide us with warmth and coffee. Nothing could be done, so we set off for the banks of the Salt Creek.

Shortly we arrived in the company of the others who had chosen to accompany the Captain in his spring expedition. My dear friend Mr. Jay Henderson reclined aside a small fire cooking a side of bacon in a small pot, Mr. Jay Babcock and Mr. Bob Burke were similarly relaxing and enjoying coffee. Mr. Perkins quickly landed a pot of chocolate laced with only a taste of coffee.  I was certainly glad of the fire, the coffee and a bite or two of the fine offerings. Soon, the captain brought forth maps and we began a study of our surroundings and our destination.

It was determined Misters Henderson, Babcock, Burke and Perkins would travel the waterway, whilst Captain Jacobs and I were to journey afoot. Meeting points along the way were chosen and rapidly the remains of our early morning repast were stowed in bedroll, pack, and seabag, and we set forth.

Our pace was rapid and the captain and I made excellent time as we made our way through the marsh bottom lands. Conversation was relatively scarce as we each took in the scene around us. Spring had been well sprung in this lush area, flowers, green buds and even leaves were in full bloom. Being a farmer when not on expedition, the captain was a fine companion and had a ready answer to each and all of my queries. On we walked until we came upon the first of our meeting places alongside the creek.

Afore long our water faring companions arrived. Mr. Babcock and the others climbed to our level and we briefly discussed our next turnings and trails. It was agreed Captain Jacobs and I would remain on land but were we not to arrive at the next meeting place we would return to this location an await the return of one of the boats to ferry us to the next passage.

Again, Jim and I set a steady pace, until we were forced into what I can only describe as "the hells along the creek."

To be continued... in an upcoming edition of On The Trail Magazine.
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Wednesday, April 4

The Pursuit of Happiness

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

Indeed, we hold these truths to be self evident, yet for one exception; the exclusion and omission of women in this congressional declaration. For certainly, women are equally endowed by our Creator with these self same Rights. It was the sole intention of a small group of like-minded and unconventional women to take delight in Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness in the manner of a short scout in the wilds of Kentucky. 

Months were spent quietly planning and preparing. Letters were exchanged, concerns raised, fears addressed, and a few of the women who initially planned to join the adventure found themselves unfortunately unable to make the journey.  The remaining six of us gathered blankets,dried foods, smoked meat, made moccasins, and counted the days.

March 23
Finally, unburdened by men or children, we six hearty souls came together on the edge of the civilized world and swiftly departed for savage lands. Our small party was comprised of two Metis women; Ete deLavonde (Summer Chriswell) and Christina Langstein, three Daughters of Liberty; Beth Ehlert, Jill Frost and Lisa Jo Crews, and myself.

The Metis women had traveled far from the furthest western reaches of any civilization from places with the strange and foreign sounding names of "Colorado" and "Utah." I cannot begin to imagine such places, but if these women are examples of what one might expect, I feel certain they are fine places indeed. For these women, excusing the curse of their Indian influences, seemed quite civilized and capable in the woods.

Ah dear me! How could I possibly leave out our best and finest companion, dear little Rowdy who was brought by Lisa Jo. A mere pup of eight weeks, she was a sweet and entertaining darling dear we all  took great pleasure in! Her constant antics were a source of great amusement for us, particularly in the morning hours when she tempted fate and jumped unbidden upon covered heads!

Together, our party of adventurers set off along a trail I had traveled a time or two before and knew to be strenuous but well within our means. Carrying our  possessions upon our backs we carefully made our way through the wooded land, with ever a watchful eye upon the clifftops, the game trails, and of course our back trail to be certain no man nor beast should take us unawares. 

A cursed rain dampened belongings, wool cloaks, Metis matchcoats and even my beloved Lucky, our primary source of protection against molestation from any four or two legged kind. Though we found ourselves quite soaked, our spirits never dampened for a moment and the sound of laughter surely protected our small company from any four legged creatures. Indeed, there were no creatures but ourselves to be seen in this downpour, the rest of the forest's many inhabitants surely stayed hidden well nested in their homes. 
Yet, still we slogged on through the rain, knowing a fire, some warm food and a bit of Mistress Crew's famous blackberry bounce and my rum punch were in our future. 

Though the trail had begun quite easily, soon we found ourselves making a steep ascent causing each of us to take a necessary rest. As we ascended the highest clifftops, I made the decision to cache a few of our belongings in a well covered outcropping, allowing us the use of both hands as we climbed the treacherous rocks. Knowing there were two paths ahead, I asked if the ladies if they wished to take the shorter but much more strenuous climb or the longer but easier path. To no one's surprise, the group unanimously agreed upon the shorter climb. Ahhh, now that was a choice only made once! 

The climb along the clifftops was steep, slick with rain, and far more difficult than perhaps the ladies had anticipated, yet without fail, each of us managed unassisted, well satisfied with ourselves.

Our skills had been much tested! The rhythmic pounding within our hearts matched the quaking of our winter softened muscles and each of us were grateful beyond compare when the last rock ledge was summited and we arrived safely but out of breath at our destination. I believe it is fair to say each of these fine women had their breath quite taken away as they surveyed our temporary housing, fine as it was. The collective "Ooooh's" and "Ahhhs" were greatly satisfying to me as the leader of this little expedition. All were well satisfied and perhaps even impressed with the living conditions I'd prepared for our small group.

To call this a rock house is a severe disservice, perhaps rock castle or rock palace would better describe the  magnificence of our shelter. Further, knowing full well our paleolithic sisters had once inhabited this very space was nearly overpowering. The sleeping areas were well defined, shelves and niches perfect for our small accouterments were abundant, as were seats carved out of the soft sand stone. 
But perhaps the most stunning remnant left for our discovery by our ancient sisters was the existence of a "hominy hole" burrowed into the large table rock. I imagined a woman from ancient times, grinding corn day in and day out, deepening the hole with each time she crushed the corn to feed her family. T'was almost a mystical connection to our past and I daresay t'was felt by all of us. 

Once we'd established our "rooms," divested and stowed the majority of our belongings it was time to begin exploring the glory of our surroundings. We left Mistress Crews and Rowdy well ensconced within the palace to keep watch over our small accouterments while we made the journey down to retrieve our cache of items left behind on our initial ascent. Of course it nearly goes without saying the rain had not let up, yet we were neither perturbed nor deterred.
Our explorations led us to many natural beauties. The most magnificent of which was the unexpected appearance of a stunning double rainbow. The rain and clouds cleared off and the remainder of the afternoon was lovely. We encountered any number of odd and unusual flora we could not identify but found most intriguing.  Not knowing the possible dangers of such bounty we did not collect any to eat, but it surely was time to eat! We returned to Lisa Jo, Rowdy and our lovely rock palace just before the sun set. 

Christina easily laid a hasty fire in the fire ring and t'was not long before we had plenty of coals to heat our fine meal. We had provisioned well and had plenty to share amongst ourselves. Later, beside the crackling fire we looked out over the tree tops and admired a million twinkling stars. The entire night sky looked for all the world as if God had flung a million diamonds into the sky simply for our pleasure. Many stories were told and laughter rang out late into the night whilst the bottles of wine, rum punch and bounce were freely passed from one to the other.
Comfortable in our home we relaxed, but remained ever watchful aware danger could come upon us at any time. 
Night wore on and the peals of laughter seemed to subtly fade away as the stories turned from school girl humor to tales of ghosts past and present. Each of us pulled her wool blankets to her chin and flatly refused to admit the tiny hints of fear which crept upon us. 
But all were deeply frightened as the first and completely unexpected flash of lightning filled the entire rock palace with its blinding light. The clap of thunder which followed was mind numbingly loud as it filled the furthest recesses of our shelter and bounced back out over the canyon, echoing the sound over and over and reverberating with such intensity we felt it within our very bones!! 

Grateful were we of the tiny light of our candles and the fire to bring us some small comfort as the storm raged just outside our magnificent palace. Nary a drop landed upon us as we snuggled closer to one another or under our blankets. Flashes of lightning seemed to strike mere feet from our perch over the trees and there is no doubt our heads were filled with dire possibilities: hurricane force winds pulling all of us out into the night; complete cave collapse flattening us all, or any number of other nightmares.  I worried the next strike of lightening would be the last we'd ever see! But I can honestly assure you one and all; not once did I or my fearless sisters give voice to our thoughts. Not one peep escaped tight lips, and not one scream escaped through the long storm. Sleep came and went like a forbidden lover throughout the long night leaving each of us wishing for more. 

TO BE CONTINUED in an upcoming edition of On the Trail Magazine...
The author would like to thank each of these fine women for being fearless in their pursuit of happiness!