This was the place he had been dreaming about. People had once held gatherings here just as they did at circle. What had happened? How and why had they died? Had they known his mother and father? Was this the place Sarah's mother and two brothers were buried. A certainty deep in his gut told him that it was. All these questions were turning in his mind, but even more forcefully was the instinctive knowledge that they needed to get out of here fast. They couldn't be found in this place.
He knew with sick certainty this was why no one was allowed to build camps near the lake. There was some secret hidden here that was meant to remain hidden. It was dangerous to stay because they could be tracked by their med-alert bracelets. Medics would be coming soon by air sled to check on them unless they got out of the area quickly.
It was an hour later when the first air sled appeared and circled over them. By then they were three miles away from the abandoned camp and heading upstream. They waved but the medic didn't wave back. After circling a few times he simply left.
Tobal was feeling uneasy about the situation and knew continuing upstream was a mistake. It would give the impression they might follow the stream back down again to return into the forbidden area. With this in mind he checked his location on the map and set out directly crosscountry toward the gathering spot. Twice that day air sleds checked on them but simply flew over without circling.
They made a few dry camps before reaching water again and the going was extremely rough. The terrain was much more rocky with less vegetation and animal life. More than once Tobal was grateful for Melanie's prowess with snare and sling. Things would have been much more difficult if he had been on his own out here.
There were no more air sleds and Tobal felt relief but remained careful. Camps he chose now were secret, hidden and very hard to find. People could pass a few yards from his shelter without knowing he or Melanie were there. They found caves to sleep in and built fires with dry wood that would not smoke and give away their location.
Melanie took to this new training like a duck takes to water. She was naturally secretive and suspicious of strangers. She moved so quietly with the ability to appear and disappear that she seemed like a ghost. She laughed when he told her that though.
Basically Tobal was an even tempered teacher and she was quick and eager to learn. After two weeks of training she had learned navigating by map and compass. While she was an expert with the sling, it took her a while to get her first deer with the bow, mainly because of the terrain they were traveling in.
She was now providing the food for both of them and learning to construct various shelters. It was mid July and there were plenty of berries to eat as well. They saw larger animals like deer, bear, cougar and mountain goats. It was certainly an area not occupied by anyone else.
After two weeks of wandering they found a small hidden canyon with it's own small waterfall and plenty of game.