Anarchistic Knights-a serialadventure Chapter 7B-The First Day by Joe Bandel

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Tobal could see there was a creek running near the spot he had marked. He was getting enthused about this map reading thing. It was opening a new way of looking at the world. The map really was a useful tool.

"Ok", Rafe asked, "How do we know when we have gone four miles?"

Tobal answered, "Every 880 paces equals mile and I tie one knot in the cord. When I have tied eight knots in the cord we should be there."

"Excellent", Rafe laughed, "You've got it! The first part of map reading is finding out where you are so you can go home. Now let's go. We're wasting time."

They headed toward Old Baldy. It was tougher than Tobal had thought. The terrain was broken and uneven making it impossible to walk in a straight line. The snow shoes were awkward and Tobal's legs ached from the unaccustomed effort. He didn't need the compass but headed as straight as he could toward Old Baldy and tried to keep track of his paces.

Most of the time he could keep the mountain in sight but sometimes there was deep brush and trees so thick he couldn't see. That was when he pulled out the compass and used it as a guide to keep going in the right direction.

Rafe made them both snow goggles to protect their eyes from the fierce blinding glare of the snow. These were simple strips of gray fabric with narrow slits cut in them and tied over their eyes. Without them they could have suffered snow blindness.

It wasn't long before Tobal completely lost track of how many paces they had gone. Rafe told him when they reached the first half mile. tobal kept better count after that and by the second mile his count was close to Rafe's. He was in the lead so he could use the compass and find his direction. It allowed him to set the pace.

The terrain changed the further they traveled. It had been meadow around the city-state but as they got closer to the mountain it became more forested and rocky. Rafe cut a walking stick for Tobal and showed him how to use it to save his balance and help get over some of the rougher spots.

"Uneven ground like this is really dangerous", Rafe said seriously. "You could break a leg or worse. A walking stick can help keep your balance and test for weak spots in the snow and ice before you step into them. With a heavy pack you are top heavy and the walking stick gives you something to lean against."

They stopped a few times to rest and drink water from the canteens. The water tasted terrible, but Rafe made him drink it anyway.

"It's easy to get dehydrated out here. You should drink about two gallons of water a day when you are living outdoors like we are."

Later Tobal realized he was so thirsty he didn't mind the weird taste. It just felt good having something wet to drink. The afternoon wore on and getting toward sunset. He had just finished tying his eighth knot and looked around uneasily. Theoretically he should be close to where they were going to camp for the night. He said as much to Rafe.

"Hey, shouldn't we be close to the creek? I have my eight knots. I think we've come four miles. Where is the creek?"

"You do, do you." Rafe said, grinning widely, "Do you see any place that looks like it would make a good campsite?"

Tobal looked around more closely. There was a clearing ahead, a small open area off to the left that sloped down toward a line of thick brush. Then he saw it.

"There's a creek!" He pointed excitedly toward the line of brush. He could hear the water in the distance.

Rafe chuckled, "Right where the map said it was, isn't it? You did a good job for a newbie, only a quarter mile off. That's not bad at all."