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9

The Lynching

The rain drizzled down steadily from heavy grey clouds that showed no signs of breaking up. My hat dripped in front of my nose and raindrops ran down my plastic poncho with each step I took. Mom had stopped singing her rainy day songs and we were simply trudging along the trail, cold and wet and wishing we were at camp. That was when Dad decided to stop by the trail to cook lunch, rather than pressing on for the next campground.

We hiked for a bit further before the glad cry came that we’d found a stream by the trail. It was a short scramble down a slight incline, but there were also heavy spruce trees there to provide cover from the rain. In a minute my brothers and I had dropped our packs beside the trail. Dad sent Bob for water while he got out his cookset and we began manufacturing pizzas. My job was to open the cans while Dad mixed up the pizza dough.

As the first pizza went into the frying pan, decorated with mushrooms, pineapple, and meat to Will’s taste, a couple of teenagers hiked past. They just nodded to us, but the next group of three stopped to chat for a minute, explaining they were part of a youth group and were hiking into Berg Lake for the night. The group continued to trickle past in twos and threes; some stopped to talk and catch glimpses of the fresh pizzas coming out of the frying pan and being devoured by my brothers and I; others just kept walking, their heads down against the rain. They’d be cooking their ichiban noodles for supper once they got to Berg Lake.

Then one of the group leaders came along and recognized Dad. Dad introduced his family to his old acquaintance and they caught up on the news. They were hiking further than we were, so chances were that we wouldn’t meet them again. Then Dad’s friend headed on, the last of the youth group straggled past, and we finished our pizzas, packed up our “kitchen,” and hit the trail once again. With hot food in our stomachs, the rain no longer seemed such a problem—Dad had showed his usual skill in motivating his young hikers.

A couple days later we were back at Kinney Lake campground, packing up after breakfast for our short, seven-kilometre hike to the trailhead. The same youth group began hiking through camp, in the same bunches of two and three, and Dad’s friend stopped in our cook shelter to say hi again.

“You know,” he mentioned to Dad just before he went after his group, “by making fresh pizzas on the trail like that, when those kids only had ichiban noodles to eat, you almost got lynched.”

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