27 October, 2011

27 October 2011

To Einar’s relief--he needed to get moving, and soon, after a long cold night whose effects had been exacerbated by his recent consumption of good quantities of icy spring water--Kilgore and his two charges woke anxious to make a start down the mountain, too anxious to take the time for a hot breakfast, even, and he breathed a sign of gladness as he sat listening to them converse, breaking down camp and wanting to be on their way downslope “before the altitude sickness can start setting in again.” Which he did not find at all likely to happen, but was glad they thought otherwise… Waiting until the men had been out of sight for several minutes Einar got creakily to his feet and followed them--dizzy, ribs hurting but doing his best to ignore all of it, focus on the retreating search team--keeping his distance but close enough to see as they made it down to the valley floor and followed the creek, descending. Good. Looks like I can go home. Which was to prove easier said than done…

By the time the second afternoon came and went with no sign of Einar’s return, Liz knew something must have gone wrong. She knew he would not, without some very powerful reason, delay his return to her just then, not with the trouble she’d been having on the recent climb back up to the cabin and the concern he’d displayed at the possibility that she might be in some danger of going into early labor…he’d been intent on placing that second cache, but had insisted he would hurry back after, and she’d believed him. She wanted very much to go looking for him, cover the most likely route between the cabin and the cache site he had described to her in case he’d fallen and hurt himself or run into some other sort of trouble that might be preventing his return, but considering the way she’d been feeling that past day the thought of the climb concerned her a bit, as the last thing she wanted was for the baby to come with her far from home up a mountainside, and Einar with no idea of how to find her. She could leave a note, she supposed, letting him know where she had gone and when, should he return to the cabin ahead of her, but that still left open the possibility that the climb could put her into early labor, and if Einar should have strayed from the route he mentioned to her so that she didn’t find him at all and he was prevented from returning to the cabin for another few days, still…well, the risk of it seemed too great, with the baby’s safety potentially at stake.

Einar would have to make his own way home this time, and though confident in her decision, she spent a largely sleepless night sitting up and worrying about him, going over in her mind all the things that could have possibly happened to extend his absence and praying that he might be brought safely home. Needing to keep her hands occupied she worked on Einar’s parka, using the one he had made her as a model but not adding the baby-carrying features he’d created for her--they required use of more hides than the “plain” version, and she figured she’d be carrying the little one most of the time, anyhow--and modifying certain portions of the garment for his greater height and longer arms. By the time her eyes got too tired to go on focusing on the stitches, she had attached both sleeves to the torso portion of the parka, and was ready to start on the hood. She wished, folding her work and setting it aside for the night, that Einar had it with him on his current journey. She’d tried to send her parka with him, but he had of course refused, insisting that it was for her and for the little one. The night was cold, her breath showing in the cabin, even, once she got away from the stove a bit, and she hated the thought of him spending a second night out there with nothing more than the deer hide to shelter himself.

Well. At least it’s not raining…or snowing…and he should be able to make himself pretty comfortable under a spruce tree, if he will. We’ve spent plenty of nights like that, and he knows how to scrape together enough insulation to keep himself going through nights like this. I’ll just keep working on the parka, and next time he’ll have no excuse. He’ll have to wear it. Need to be making some progress on our boots, too, because neither of us have anything suitable for keeping our feet warm and dry when the snow sets in for good, and Einar’s close to losing the soles off of his boots, if he hasn’t already, wandering around up there in the rocks… Yep, lots to do. Weary though, too weary to do any more without a rest, and she retreated to the bed for a short nap, first setting a pot of water, frozen bits of goat meat and bear fat on the edge of the stovetop to begin heating so she’d have a batch of good hot broth to start on when she woke. All through the night she had kept broth on the stove in anticipation of Einar’s return, but as each batch had begun condensing and boiling down she had used it to fuel her work, warmed by the rich mixture and enjoying the renewed energy it had provided her. Seemed she was constantly hungry as winter deepened and the cold became permanent--couldn’t imagine how Einar kept himself going on as little as he took in, as much energy as she seemed to be expending simply in keeping warm--and the soup worked well for her. Perhaps--it was more prayer than speculation--he would be back by the time that next batch of soup was ready.

With dawn less than an hour away when finally she lay down, Liz slept until after the sun was up, waking with a start and rolling out of bed quickly as she could, glancing around for any sign of Einar but seeing nothing to indicate that he’d been back The fire had gone out, soup boiled low and thick on its top but not, with the rocks cooling, gone entirely dry and burned, and she scooped up the pot, pressed it between her hands in an attempt to warm them, breath rising in white clouds around her in the cold cabin. Hurriedly she got the fire going again, gulped a bit of the soup and set the rest to re-heat, breaking the skim of ice on the water barrel so she could add a bit more to the pot. Draping herself with a sheep hide and the rabbitskin blanket for her morning trip outside she moved quickly to retrieve a previously-skinned rabbit and a bit of venison from their treetop meat stash, searching the crunchy bits of snow that remained around the clearing for footprints or scuff marks that might say Einar had been there in the night--goodness knew why he would have been that close and not come inside, but he had surprised her before by doing things she never would have expected, or done herself, and she wouldn’t have been terribly surprised to find him curled up under a tree behind the cabin--but seeing nothing fresher than when he’d left. Where are you? It doesn’t take this long to climb up to the caching spot and back, not even if you were moving very, very slowly, and if you decided there was something else you needed to take care of out there that’s fine, but I can’t help but wonder if you’re lying out there somewhere in the rocks just

She shook her head, tightened the blanket around her shoulders and breathed on numbed hands, her earlier decision to remain at the cabin and await Einar’s return cast into doubt by his continued absence and the frigid temperatures that had descended over the basin in the night. Returning to the cabin and working to chop up the rabbit for her morning batch of stew, Liz began planning the hike that would take her up the mountain and along Einar’s described route to the cache, searching until she found him.


  1. NNNOOOOOOO Liz!!! stay put! please!!!

    although I would have been out there that first day, lol!

    I wish I could see a picture of the parkas

  2. My thought exactly Kellie. LOL

    I think FOTH posted a photo of one of the parkas a couple of years ago at the tree-rat tree.

    Thanks FOTH

  3. Meplat said:

    Stay put Liz! You don’t need to have a preemie at 10,000+ feet! Think about it. If he got himself into a jam it was probably because he would not take care of himself. In his condition a broken leg or any mishap that left him immobile for an extended length of time in those conditions would be fatal anyway. The best thing you can do for him right now is to make sure his child and his name lives on. It is what he would want you to do.

    You have enough food fat and furs to get you through the winter. Hole up and have Einar’s baby. If it’s a normal delivery you can handle it yourself, women have been doing it for 400,000 years. If there are problems the likelihood that Einar could make a big difference are low.

    Have the baby and ride out the winter. After the wet muddy spring is over take the little one down to Susan’s place and let Kilgor do what he is good at. Raise your child a thousand miles away and tell him/her what a great man there father was. And best of all, let the feds knock themselves out for the next ten years chasing a ghost!

  4. Meplat said:

    No. Not at all. One who has read this whole saga would be nuts to give up on EA! The subtitle could be 10,000 ways to try to kill yourself and fail! Einar is one tough old boot. He will pull through.

    I was just trying to present the logical case that Liz should think through before heading out in her condition on an ill conceived rescue mission. It could end with all three of them dead. But I know it is very hard to go by cold hard logic sometimes. Been there, done that. Sometimes it comes down to this being the hill you are willing to die on. But expectant mothers have a heavier responsibility than the rest of us in this regard.

    I know that we often regard females as overly emotional and rattled brained in certain circumstances. Hence the term ‘histrionics’. But a factual examination of the real world will reveal that women are very pragmatic when it comes to the survival and well being of their offspring.