Keep Calm

In our July issue we called for young makers to submit their creative work, along with their source of inspiration. Thirteen-year-old Elliote Muir submitted a short story partially based on a real-life experience. When Elliote’s not writing, she likes to be outside, mountain bike, ski, hike and paddle board. Here’s a short story we’re sure other Boulderites can relate to …  

“Are we lost?”

“No, of course not. Carrying our bikes around the woods without a trail in sight is exactly what we planned on.”

“Thanks a bunch, but I don’t exactly need your sarcasm right now.” Sarah reached down to find a rock and pitched it off the side of the mountain. I was just glad she didn’t aim it at me.

“Let’s stop and have a snack,” Avery suggested, plopping onto a rock.

I sat down next to her, hoping to be struck with some genius navigating skills, but that had never been my strength.

“I don’t know where we screwed up,” Sarah sighed. “It’s only been a few months since the last time I rode this trail and it was nothing like this.” She looked over at her bike, which was covered in mud. “My bike is trashed. It’s gotten even muddier since we started walking.”

“We turned too early,” I said after a minute of silence.

“That doesn’t matter anymore,” Avery declared. “We just have to figure out how to get back to town.”

I reached back and played with the knob on the back of my helmet, twisting it until my head hurt and then loosening it, nerves bubbling up inside me.

“I can hear cars way down there.” Sarah peered through a clearing in the trees.

“I think we’re parallel to the Canyon,” I replied.

“Okay, so let’s just walk down towards the cars and hitchhike back.”

I rolled my eyes. “Maybe but it would be ridiculously steep and we’d have to cross the creek. I vote no.”

Avery nodded. “Sorry, but me too. I think we keep going up.”

It was cool for June and the trees shaded us as we trekked upwards. If I hadn’t been so preoccupied, I would’ve noticed how beautiful it was.

“Let’s just admit that we’re lost,” I said an hour later.

“Imagine the headlines!” Avery exclaimed. “‘Thirteen-Year-Old Girls Stranded on Mountain Near Boulder, Live Off the Land as they Make Their Way Back to Civilization.’”

“We’d inspire bestselling novels,” I grinned.

“I’d rather be home for dinner,” Sarah said, sounding scared.

It was steep and as we pushed our bikes up the temperature dropped. It was like those road trips, where the only thing you want is to ask “are we there yet?” None of us wanted to be the first to complain, because we knew that once one person lost it, everyone would.

“Did anyone check again to see if they have service?” I asked after awhile, tugging my phone out of my backpack.

“I don’t,” Avery frowned.

“Yeah, me neither.”

“Wait, I do!” Sarah brought up a map. “So, we’re in the middle of nowhere, but we are headed towards a backroad that could take us back to town. I’m not sure how far it is though.”

“Then let’s keep going,” I grunted, hefting my bike over a fallen tree.

First it was the desk, sitting in the middle of the forest with several names etched into it.

“How weird,” Sarah said. “Why is there a desk in the middle of the woods?”

“Hopefully we’re close enough to the road to be where someone would dump it,” Avery replied, scratching a smiley face into the wood. A few feet away from the desk, flanked by aspen trees, was the tiniest rut in the ground. It was the happiest I’d ever been to see a trail.

“This isn’t the road,” Avery said, looking worried.

“But it’s a real trail,” Sarah replied. “Let’s go.”

“With our luck, it’s the trail we thought we were on hours ago,” I said, clipping into my pedals.

I rolled through the trees on the single track grateful that our adventure would not be one to look back on and laugh at, but one to enjoy now.