Fire and Ice

by Andy

Canoe trip through Saranac Lake NY

Journal Entry

Duncan: 17 year old - Light brown hair kind of longish, floppy; green eyes; 6'1, 180 lbs Ohioan,

Colin Beckett: 20 year old - Blond shoulder length hair shaved underneath; violet eyes; 5'10; 165 lbs; Australian.

Duncan and Colin meet up on a bus both of them headed to Saranac Lake NY for canoeing and hiking respectively. When they get there they head there separate ways to begin their trip. They meet up two days later as Duncan is paddling close to shore trying to see what was causing the plumes of smoke coming out of the forest. What he finds instead is Colin calling for help desperate to escape the out of control forest fire. Taking Colin into his canoe Duncan paddles them both over to Deer Island in the middle of upper Saranac Lake where they remain together for the next 4 days of their adventure.

All text in Italics are passages from Duncan's journal, the rest of the story will be narrated by Duncan.

22 August 2003

A brand new journal for a brand new trip. The last purchase I made before leaving Fredericktown, Ohio. Now I am sitting on a bus headed towards New York City where I will need to transfer at the Port Authority for one destined for Saranac Lake, NY. As a graduation gift my parents bought me my own two-person canoe from Campmor. As a graduation gift to myself I was taking all the money I had earned working at Stop and Shop and taking a week long canoe trip alone before beginning college in the fall. My name is Duncan Jenkins and as of September will be a freshman at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. I am 17 years old until the 29th of August when I will officially be an adult. I am so psyched about this trip it is going to be an awesome, awesome experience.

The fields and grassy hills of Pennsylvania flew past my eyes as I stared out the buses window finally consenting to my body that I was in need of some sleep. I shut my eyes and started to drift off to sleep against the cool glass window of the bus only waking eight hours later with the need to pee and to check our progress. Three hours later we arrived at the Port authority and I was thankful for the chance to walk around and finally be off the bus. I collected my canoe from the cargo hold on my greyhound and headed off to find out when the next bus was leaving for Saranac and how much they were going to over charge me for transporting my canoe.

~ Duncan~

22 August 2003

Airport security is the pits. I almost wish my friend hadn't invited me to visit him in New York this week. I had some time off from school anyway but jeez, why do the airport people insist on harassing you quite this much. Is it like there God-given right to see how pissed off they can make me. I thought that nothing could get any worse then the traffic and hassle of trying to leave Melbourne, Australia but that was nothing compared to the grief I was given once I hit JFK's airport.

Over 24 hours later...

Well I finally finished going through security and having my person searched relentlessly for the bomb I was obviously carrying!! God what a hassle.

Well of course I arrive at my friend Keith's flat to find him sick as a dog. "Hey mate, you look awful..." I told him as he greeted me at the door.

"Thanks Colin," *cough cough * "I am glad to see you too man..." Colin's friend slowly trudged back to the sofa he had been laying on and wrapped himself up in his blanket again. " I am so sorry Colin I caught the flu. I really wanna go hiking but I feel so crappy. Forgive me?"

"Yeah buddy I forgive you, what am I going to do all week I don't think it is right of me to go without you..." I told him quietly while rubbing his head and sitting next to him.

"Naw man, go on I want you too. I wrote out directions for you so that you could find your way to the Port Authority without me. I put them on the table with the two tickets. Maybe you can sell the other one or something.."

I took the directions and thanked him, happy to still be able to go hiking so at least my vacation wasn't a total waste and headed off following his 'directions' which I must say sucked royally. Eventually I stumbled upon the port authority where I tossed my backpack on the floor and sat down against a pillar

Leaning against the wall across to me looking so forlorn, staring at the ground next to his canoe was the cutest boy I had ever seen. He couldn't have been more then 15 I bet. I decided to go over and say hi, maybe I could cheer him up a little bit.

"Hey why you lookin' so sad buddy?" I questioned him gently, placing my hands in my pockets in an attempt to look relaxed and laid back.

"I was tryin to get up to Saranac to go canoeing but they don't have any more tickets for the bus and now I dunno what to do I don't have the money to stay in NYC until the next bus leaves in a few days," he replied glumly to me.

"hey man I'm Colin.... and you are?"

"Sorry, I'm Duncan."

"Ok Duncan, I was supposed to be goin to Saranac also with a friend but he had to bail on me so it just happens that I have a second bus ticket. However you will have to sit next to me..."

Duncan was so happy he did something I never expected! The boy actually jumped up and hugged me! I could not believe it, maybe things were different in the states then they were in Australia. As soon as he realized what he had down he stared at the floor blushing. He was so cute I just laughed and told him not to worry about it.

--COLIN--

23 August 2003

My trip almost became a complete disaster when I arrived at Port Authority and was informed that they didn't have any more tickets for the bus I needed and the next one wasn't until Tuesday. Glumly I leaned against a wall sitting my canoe on the ground under me trying to decide what I would do. I didn't have the money to stay the next two nights in NYC and I really didn't want to go home already. There was a beautiful boy with long, blonde hair sitting a little bit away from me. He walked over and introduced himself as Colin. I could not believe it this man had the strangest violet eyes I could not help but stare at them then he whips out two tickets for the same exact bus I needed and offered to give me one. He made me so happy I hugged him then realized that I didn't even know him and I was standing in the middle of Port Authority. All of a sudden I became very embarrassed and pulled away from him quickly staring at the ground. He chuckled and just rubbed my shoulder saying it was ok and passed me a ticket.

~Duncan~

The bus ride lasted approximately four and a half hours. It was quite enjoyable. I began to really like Colin. The more we talked the cooler he began to seem to me.

"Hey Colin, why are you travelin all alone?"

"Well, I have a friend who spent a term in Melbourne and he invited me to come hiking with him. Well, we made our arrangements and were already to go but when I arrived it turned out he had come down with a nasty case of the flu and merely wished me luck and gave me the bus tickets."

"Wow man that sucks I am sorry," I said rubbing Colin's leg lightly.

"Why are you out here all by yourself you don't even look old enough to be out of high school... Where are your parents?"

"My parents bought me this canoe as a graduation present. I am still seventeen but my birthday is on the 29th while I am still away. How old are you?" I questioned.

"I am twenty and am on holiday from school at the moment.. I am so damn glad to be away from that place. Australia might be nice to look at but it gets kind of boring. I must say though it is much cleaner then your cities are..."

"Hey, hey man. You only saw New York and that's down right filthy, I am sure we have some far worse looking cities just check out the west coast. There are some very nice ones too though I must say. You are seeing only the bad."

At about this point I realized just how sleepy I was, "Yawnnnn, I'm sorry dude. I had a really long bus ride out here I am tired as hell."

Colin flashed his beautiful smile at me again, "No problem mate you can sleep on me if you wish I am well rested I had a long flight to catch up my sleep on." I sleepily smiled back at him and curled up in my seat laying my head on his lap. Colin instinctively put his hand on my back and began to rub it. I smiled happily and drifted off to sleep.

When we arrived in Saranac I was actually rather sad that we would need to be saying our goodbyes soon. He flashed me that perfect smile again and helped me hoist my canoe up on top of my shoulders then we headed off to the trail head that ran to the lake.

Their we split up and I was left alone hauling my canoe through a rocky passage way. The site I saw when I arrived at the waters edge however was so spectacular that it made all of the portaging worth while.

At the launch site was a single water spigot where I filled up my three Nalgene bottles and organized all my gear within the dry bags that I placed inside my canoe. With a final look at the mountains behind me I pushed off into the water and began paddling.

I soon began to realize that the map just wasn't quite accurate with the land and waterways that surrounded me. Three cheers for the NY/NJ map conference. I think someone needs to get out here and revise this thing.

The water was so still and I didn't have any plans for the rest of the week. I had five more days filled with water, cute boys, and sightseeing. I needed to get a feeling of the lake and the currents that travel through the water so I began canoeing slowly towards a camp I could see at the far end of the lake. The closer I got to that section of water the more I realized what a heavily used lake Saranac really was. You saw girls, boys, old folks, children in canoes sail boats motorboats and all other forms of traveling.

I saw an intriguing cross on the middle of a small island and headed off to see what it was there for. Fearing that it would reveal a grave, or something worse I didn't want to get too close. However what I found was that it was a place called Chapel Island. There I met a priest the first person I would get a chance to take to since leaving Colin.

"Hey man, what's up with the chapel out here?" I questioned him.

"It was built in the early 1900's by some of the surrounding citizens so that they could have a nondenominational place to worship," The priest kindly replied setting down the rag he had been using to clean pews.

"Hmm, that's cool. I just started a week long canoe trip and was trying to get the feel of the lake when I saw this huge wood cross in the distance and decided to check it out. When do you guys have services here?" I sat down on one of the pews after he had waved his hand at me indicating I should.

"Well we hold services here Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. You are welcome to stay here for the night if you wish, I will be heading back to mainland before dark. Let me show you around, you can leave your canoe tied up out front."

Standing up I followed this young priest as he led me back out the front door. Pointing to his left he said, "Over there you will find a fire pit you can use and the original cross. Before the chapel was built the townsfolk use to gather on wooden benches before it and they would have different people speak every week. Well the sun is beginning to set I will walk with you to grab your backpack and show you where in the chapel you can spread out but then I need to be heading home, family you know?"

I smiled at him, "Thank you so much for the tour I am so grateful you are letting me stay here for the night. It's nice to be able to get a decent nights sleep before I head off in the morning. I am planning a long day for tomorrow."

"Just be careful the weather is very unstable around here, we get some fierce storms that brew up over the lake. I don't believe the weather is supposed to be to harsh tomorrow but just in case watch yourself," as he said that I shook his hand and waved goodbye to him as he pulled away in a rowboat towards shore. Then settled down by the cross to begin my dinner. After I got a small fire going I cooked some noodles on it and threw in some beans, spices, and chicken and had that for dinner. It was better then I expected.

The weather when I awoke on the 24th looked rather foreboding and I was not looking forward to paddling because of the winds that were stirring across the lake. Bundling up inside a fleece I left a thank you note inside the chapel and untied my canoe paddling off.

As I was paddling through the water a fierce storm began to brew up over head. The early morning light I had once been graced with soon disappeared entirely and I was left cold and in the dark. I paddled quickly towards the only island I could see but it was too far away for me to reach before the rain and lightening started.

After an hour of fustily paddling I finally reached Deer island and sought refuge in one of the campsites under my canoe with a tarp anchored around it. Since it was only 3 o clock I decided it would be a good idea to update my journal.

24 August 2003

My trip started off so well, first with meeting Colin and then being allowed to sleep n the chapel the first night and having the priest to talk to for some of the evening while I got tips about where to canoe and where not to. Now obviously I am being punished because of this horrid weather. I have an aluminum canoe there is no way I can even consider moving forward until this storm clears up. *Sigh * I hope Colin is safe inside his tent I would hate for him to get hurt in this weather. Today I traveled slowly about two miles along the lake. I am hoping that the slow traveling is the fault of the storm and not just how the lakes currents are.

The rain finally stopped so I withdrew from my shelter to sit on some rocks over looking the waters edge. I have heard of lightening storms over the lakes before but this is unbelievable. There are bolts of lightening jumping from cloud to cloud followed by loud claps of thunder, slowly becoming menacingly louder. I hugged my knees to my chest and started to cry quietly while looking over the site I saw before me. It was like witnessing the wrath of God and not being bale to do anything at all. Quickly the lightening became worse and worse and the rain returned. Since I still wasn't dry from my last drenching I remained where I was to watch how the weather unfolds.

The storm just kept building and getting more and more fierce. The lake actually began to form waves with whitecaps on them as the water was stirred up. For the first time this whole trip I was thrilled to be on an island instead of mainland, even though I was cold and damp. The lightening was drawn closer to the ground until it actually started striking the ground. I watched in horror hoping that my friend was ok out there alone. Eventually the rain slowed and I retreated back to my canoe to go to bed and wait out the rest of the storm.

~Duncan~

24 August 2003

This weather is unbelievable. First of all it is pouring here and I have no shelter to speak of and am just glad that this is a waterproof notebook and pen. Now yesterday when I left Duncan at the trail head I headed off in the direction of some peaks that a few other hikers recommended to me. They were right. After hiking up hill for 4 or 5 hours I reached the plateau and the view was simply stunning. In the glorious sunlight spread out beneath me was the Olympic ski Jump miles and miles of fields in one direction and in the other a string of lakes.

As I walked around admiring the view I found myself gazing down upon what I was told was Upper Saranac Lake. I was curious as to where Duncan was on that vast body of water. I sat down to relax and watched people parasailing below me and water skiing. There must have been three or four summer camps along that section of the lake even one that appeared to be on an island. Around 3 o clock I was beginning to run out of things to look at and knew that I had to begin heading back and finding a place to camp since it was prohibited to pitch a tent up on this plateau.

As I started to walk down I decided that I just wouldn't use my tent... I didn't really need it and I was really looking forward to looking at the stars in the northern hemisphere for a change. As most people were headed down the mountain I was one of the only people left up there and found a small grassy section away from the cliff where I put my backpack.

Taking my stove a pot and a water bottle I went over onto the rock and began boiling water to use in one of those freeze-dried meals. It was Cajun chicken and not to bad at all actually! After I ate all of the chicken and rice and brushed my teeth I laid down inside my sleeping bag. The view was even more stunning as the sun set over the horizon right over the lake. I was awestruck to be able to view this. The wild life here is outrageous. They have these small rodents, I was told they are Squirrels and Chipmunks (not sure which was which) but they are so cute. I was watching the scurry across the ground and climb the trees.

The evening got quite chilly up on top of the mountain and i was very thankful that I brought a hat and a warm sleeping bag. The next morning I woke up around what I figure was six AM as the sun was rising behind me. It was a beautiful morning and the top of the mountain was covered in a light frost.

I packed up my gear and carried my backpack the seven miles down away from my resting spot. The further from the peak I got the more the sky darkened and the wind picked up. I pulled out the only jacket I brought, an unlined rain coat, and continued the trudge down. Before long the heavens parted and the rain began falling in torrents from the clouds. I wasn't real worried until I saw the lightning dancing between the clouds in the sky. Then I began to become a little worried. It was flashing so brightly and coming so close to the water. Since the downpour showed no means of letting up I left the main trail to seek shelter in a small inlet of rocks at the base of the mountain.

As I crouched down there waiting for the rain to stop which it eventually did I had a little bit to consider my options. Hopefully the rain would stop and the lightening and thunder would disappear with it. If not I needed to find a place to set up an emergency shelter. While I was waiting with my head down by the rocks I failed to notice that the lightening was getting closer and closer to the ground a little bit away from me.

Suddenly I felt the ground shake beneath me and in the distance I saw a tree lit up in flames and smoke. Not to bad it was a good ways from me I was safe here for the time. Then the lightning struck a tree closer then me and all the roots under ground suddenly became visible as if an x ray machine had been used on them.

At that point I grabbed my pack and began running back the way I had headed out yesterday. The fire didn't seem to be spreading much and all I was seeing was black smoke. I got back to the launch where I left off Duncan the first day. It was made of concrete and I figured that I could at least sleep there for the night. Shutting my eyes I drifted off to sleep only to be attacked by the mosquitoes.

Finally morning came when I looked back to where the lightening had caused the fire I could see that I was in deep shit... All there was, was bilious black smoke pouring out from the trees. I shut my eyes and just listened and realized that I could hear the crackling of a fire and smell the burning of wood. Oh shit. This is it I have come all this way to burned alive...

I saw a canoe coming my way in the distance and began screaming for help as loudly as I could. I was shocked to see who came to rescue me... It was Duncan! I was so happy to see him the tossed my bag into his canoe then helped me in. I tried to help him with some of the paddling but since he only had one paddle i just sort of flopped my hands in the water and tried to look useful. All in all I was never happier to see anyone then I was to see Duncan right then.

--COLIN -

Part 2

I looked out across the water and the first thing I saw was Colin standing on the shore screaming for help. I figured he must have been caught in the fire that was spreading all along the shore Pulling my canoe up on the side of him I grinned and said, "Hey man can I give you a lift."

"Omygod I am so happy to see you!!" Colin exclaimed passing his bag to me and climbing into the canoe. He leaned over and gave me a quick hug. "Come on man let's get moving that fire is vicious!"

"Alright, alright so tell me what happened. What started the fire back there?"

"Well, at first this huge storm started to roll in as I came down the mountain but then as it got worse I sought refuge near some rocks. The next thing I know the ground is being illuminated and a tree has just fuckin blown up! IT was insane."

"So the lightening hit a tree and that's what caused all of the fire?"

"No way dude, what caused all the fire was because the lightening struck a few trees and the ground several times. I was running away from the fire and remembered that this was where you left me off so if need be I could have jumped into the lake. Thanks so much for rescuing me Duncan," I said leaning over and giving him a small kiss on the cheek.

"Hey man it's cool. Ok so I was camping out on this island last night but I would feel better if we got a little bit further from the fires," I said as we passed Deer Island, " There is a slightly larger island right past the narrows so we can go chill there for a bit till they take care of the fire."

Colin sat down on the floor of my canoe and shut his eyes, I began to think he didn't like canoes to much. He never said anything though just drifted to sleep as I paddled us to shore.

About two hours later we had arrived at where I was planning to spend the night, looking back into the distance I could still see the black smoke pouring out of the trees.

Shaking Colin's arm I spoke saying, " Wakey, wakey dude! We arrived and need to set up camp and get some dinner cooking I'm starving. Colin opened his eyes and smiled at me then rubbed his eyes and helped me pull the canoe up onto the shore.

Together we carried the now laden canoe to a small clearing in the woods. Colin pulled our gear out of the canoe and I flipped it over to allow any water that had collected in there to drain out. The next thing that Colin did thrilled me.

I had just begun spreading my tarp over my canoe to create my shelter for the night when he stopped me. "Hey man why ya doing that when I have a nice little two person tent we can share?"

I stared at him in amazement. " Dude, you never told me that you had a tent in that little bag of yours!!!"

"Did you ever ask me if I did?" Colin quickly questioned.

"Well, um no but that doesn't matter. Let me give you a hand with that tent ok. So Colin you have a girlfriend or a Kangaroo or Koala or something back in Australia that you are seeing?"

Staring at his feet and absently putting poles together he replied, " No, I'm very single right now. I wouldn't have a girlfriend anyway... Girls aren't the coolest thing around... I think I might take a Wallaby over the girl."

"Woah... Are you gay or something?? Feel free to smack me if I am being to rude..."

"No. It's ok I was waiting for you to bring this up I knew it would happen eventually. Yes I am gay and if that's a problem with you I don't need ta stay here with ya."

"Man, who are you kidding I'm thrilled with it. I'm gay too and I think your hot as hell Colin. Lets get some dinner started ok... I have some rice in my bag if ya want to share with me."

"That sounds great I have some of that freeze-dried beef or beef substitute," Colin said grinning in a sort of mischievous manner at me, "You know how it is".

I set about hooking up my stove and Colin's then began preparing us dinner. About a half hour later we were happily munching while sitting on a rock that overlooked the lake.

"Er Colin.. The sky is getting fairly dark out there and the fire looks like it is spreading further and further in every direction. Is it ok with you if we go to bed right now. I have some writing to catch up on and I would prefer my journal didn't get soaked."

"Yup, that's cool mate come on lets hit the sack I'm pretty beat anyway I wouldn't mind an early bedtime tonight. I stayed up sorta late last night." Colin told me as we walked over to the tent and crawled inside it.

25 August 2003

Well today I came across my old buddy Colin again. I was so happy to be able to help him. Turns out that lightening I saw all last night wasn't quite as harmless as I had originally believed it to be. Actually after listening to Colin's recap of his adventure that fire could have killed him if I hadn't been around to give him a lift out to the middle of the lake. I was a little worried about food because I had been planning on re-supplying part way through the trip but Colin has a bunch of that light weight freeze-dried stuff and I know how to fish so I think everything will be alright after all. Colin is just so cute I am so happy we will be able to camp together for the next couple of days. If I get lucky maybe him and I will truly like each other.

After we set up camp I went about preparing dinner for the both of us it was tasting very good. Between the two sets of seasonings that we each were carrying the beef and rice stir fry I made actually came out half way decent. Colin must have really enjoyed it he ate a ton of it!!! I don't know where that boy put all his food, he is smaller and lighter then I am and easily ate twice as much as me. After that we took a quick dip in the lake but the skies were darkening so rapidly I suggested we just clean up from dinner, purify some water and head off to bed. I had some journaling to catch up on anyway.

I still cannot believe that Colin is gay. I mean I know he let me sleep on him on the bus ride up here but Gawd I had no idea at all. I figured that he knew I was gay which he later told me was true, he was nearly positive I was gay. I guess I can't help that though. But damn this exquisite little surfer boy laying right next to me writing is gay!! I can't wait to see how this plays out. It definitely could make for a much more interesting trip then I originally expected. Did I mention he has a tent?? No more soggy nights for me! Ah well that's about all for tonight.

~Duncan~

25 August 2003

Duncan is gayyyy. Duncan is gaaaaayyy. *does a little dance* This is so damn cool.. I am thrilled he rescued me I am ecstatic that he can actually cook and has food other then this freeze-dried crap. I am so excited I can't even think of where to begin with my story telling. I have been checkin him out all night. I am simply exhausted now and think I will just cuddle with him for a while and go to bed.

Man I cannot believe it is raining again. I think I remembered to seal the tent seams. I certainly hope I did or we will be in for a rough night. Hmm Duncan just appeared to jump ten feet into the air. I wonder if he is scared of the thunder and lightening. I guess I will just have to find out. He appears to be shivering maybe I can help him out a little bit *grins into his notebook happily* Aww he just rubbed his eyes the boy must be gettin sleepy... Hey I wonder if our sleeping bags could zip together....

- - COLIN- -

I had just shut off the flashlight I was using to write and closed my journal slipping it back into the plastic bag I kept it in for safe keeping then sliding my pen carefully into the pocket of my bag when Colin spoke to me.

"Hey buddy, how ya feeling tonight I know you paddled a lot more weight around then you are use to... How would you like a massage before we go to bed?" Colin asked me quickly.

"Umm sure.. yeah my shoulders are a little sore. I guess a massage would be nice if you don't mind..." I told him quietly.

"Don't be shy little dude pull your sleeping bag over closer to me and open it up." I followed his instructions then sat there looking confused. "Well what are you waiting for take off your shirt and lay down!"

Shyly I pulled my t-shirt off of my body and quickly laid down on the sleeping bag. The next thing I felt was Colin sitting himself on top of my butt.

26 August 2003

It is after midnight so I can officially write that it is the 26th of August. Colin talked me into letting him give me a massage. It was amazing! His hand are like lethal weapons. One touch and all my muscles turned to jell-o beneath him. It felt so nice to have him perched upon my butt rubbing my upper arms shoulders and back. Wow I was just so relaxed I think that I actually dozed off once or twice while he was massaging me.

At one point Colin asked me if I wanted him to continue I guess he had finished working over my upper body and was asking permission to move lower. I quickly said sure and his hands slid down my back. It felt so nice, his hands were just so warm. I realized very quickly that he had slid his body off of mine and had laid down next to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and just stared at my eyes for a little bit. It was so weird.

Suddenly he grinned that wicked smile at me and rubbed my bicep lightly until I started squirming beneath him and smiled back up at him. At that point his eyes opened wide and he actually pulled me into a hug. It was so cool. He didn't try anything with me, just pulled my body against his and hugged me. I was so happy at this turn of events I was left speechless before him grinning at his beautiful face. That's enough for now.

~Duncan~

"Colin," I said softly while laying on my back, " Would it be alright with you if I slept with you tonight?"

"Sure mate. Climb off of you bag for a moment ok I want to see something." With that said Colin took his bag and mine and proceeded to intertwine the zippers. I stared in amazement as my smaller bag suddenly became large enough for both of us to fit within.

Colin slipped inside the bag first then helped me get myself situated within it. The next thing I knew Colin had slipped his shirt, shorts, and briefs off and put his hands on the waist band of my boxers. Sliding my hands under his I pulled them off and placed them outside of the oversized sleeping bag.

I sighed and lay my head down on the inside of our sleeping bag my skin barely touching Colin's. The next thing he did surprised me, he slid his hands completely around my waist and pulled me back against me holding onto my slim body. It felt so nice against him I just relaxed and drifted off to sleep.

26 August 2003

I gave Duncan a massage tonight. Is skin is so silky smooth. It feels just like a young child. The view of his back that I had while sitting on his butt was spectacular I have never seen a more perfectly formed back in all of my days. His muscles were so tight and tense from paddling the last few days I assume. Dunc would have been mighty sore in the morning if he had went to bed in that condition.

He seemed to enjoy the massage well enough moaning and moving his head slightly while I worked his entire backside including legs and arms. Finally as I ran out of body parts to rub in an excuse to really just grope him I noticed that Dunc looked simply exhausted. It was a pretty chilly night and I could feel the thunder and rain moving closer to us as Dunc laid passed out on hi sleeping bag. Gently waking him up and getting him to move over I quickly zipped our two bags together and helped him inside.

It was so nice and warm with both of us laying in there. Dunc instinctively turned over onto his back and squirmed closer to me. That was all the hint I needed and pulled his body back against mine and wrapped an arm around him protectively. He sighed and was just falling asleep when the first clap of thunder erupted outside. Duncan jumped startled into the air and screamed. I wrapped my arms tighter around him and he began to cry quietly the whole time it rained. I don't know what he did when he was alone with all the thunder last time...

A few hours later the thunder began to die down it was around three AM and Duncan was finally fast asleep in my arms. I shut my eyes and drifted off to sleep for a few minutes. When I awoke again Duncan wasn't in my tent anymore and I began to worry till I saw his backpack and gear were all still there. Rolling over and stretching I watched the light as it came streaming into the tent in filtered rays. I don't know how long I laid there. Duncan startled me by hitting the tent and saying breakfast was ready. Crawling out of the tent I pulled on my pants as I walked over to him he looked so cute sitting on the rock by the water. He actually was making me coffee and instant eggs for breakfast I was impressed. Just going to need to keep this boy I guess. Mmm the eggs were really good. Duncan really knows his shit I am impressed...

- - COLIN- -

I was thinking about what I should do to occupy Colin's time today. I know that he isn't big into water and things so I was considering paddling us out to a different island and maybe checking out the stuff they have. I was told that Gopher Island about 4 miles away was huge and had some amazing hiking trails. Colin might enjoy that. He really seemed to like the breakfast that I made him this morning. I am truly not sure that it was worthy of all his praise. All I did was make freeze-dried eggs.... That's simple just add water and cook. The fire is starting to look worse on the other side of the lake. I wont mention that to him though. I really don't want to scare Colin he is such a nice guy. He didn't even complain when I freaked out during the thunder last night.

I felt sorta bad last night we had an awful thunder storm probably worse then the one a few nights ago and I was just so scared. Colin wrapped his arms around me and held me till I fell back to sleep early in the morning. I really hate thunder and lightening especially after seeing what it did to the mainland. I am just afraid it is going to strike the island and burn it all down while we sleep... So after keeping Colin awake all night I felt that the least I could do was get up and cook him some breakfast... If he thought those eggs were good just wait till he see's how I really cook.

I'm afraid to really start to like Colin. I mean he seems too good to be real and I don't want to get hurt. I am only just about 18 now I will be leaving for college soon and he will be going back to Australia. Hopefully, if I got a million wishes granted he would stay with me and we could move in together but I guess until later I will just have to be friends with him and be happy with that. Well Colin has just about finished his breakfast and washing the pots and pans (he volunteered) so we should get moving. Catch ya later.

~Duncan~

"Hey man ya about ready to get a move on??" I asked while hopping around between my left and right foot impatiently.

"Yeah, sure Dunc. Let me just pull on my boots and I will be right with you ok." Colin said as he rubbed my shoulder and walked past into the tent. "So where are we heading off to oh captain sir?? We going to explore somewhere good today the weather actually looks like it might stay kinda nice for awhile."

While pulling my own Teva's on I explained my plan for today, "Well I had heard that there were some awesome caves and waterfalls on Gopher Island so I thought we might check that out... If that is ok with you of course." I looked hesitantly in his direction and Colin grinned then climbed into the tent returning with his worn black hiking boots and a funny shaped piece of wood that made me laugh.

"What the hell is that thing?" I asked him while holding my stomach and laughing.

Looking kind of hurt Colin lowered it to the ground and said, " I wanted to help you paddle today so I made myself a paddle... It's ok though I guess we could just take turns or something..."

Feeling bad for laughing at Colins handy work I walked over and picked the paddle up off the ground and smiled at him while looking it over very critically. "Well I think it will work just fine." I handed the paddle back to him, "Well let's get moving then we have about 4 miles of paddling before we reach the island we want to be on."

Colin grabbed his homemade paddle and practically ran over to where I had left the canoe the night before and grabbed one end waiting patiently for me to help him carry it. Together we tossed the thing into the water and climbed in with Colin pushing us away from the shore.

Quickly we were moving at a nice clip and I was pleasantly surprised by just how well Colin's paddle really worked. It was about half the length of mine and didn't have a handle just a wide end and a more narrow end. The top of it looked like a beaver had chewed on it at one point. The wide flat end had the distinct look of something that had been vigorously smashed by a large rock. That I assumed was Colin's work at hand.

Colin looked ahead into the distance lifting his paddle out of the water before speaking, "Is that where we are going?" He questioned me while staring at a beautiful island that was covered in lush fertile green plants. It looked out of place surrounded by the dark smoke filled skies and the burning forests along the lake looking like a scene out of hell.

I shrugged my shoulders and paddled us closer to the shore. As we neared a small cluster of rocks I saw a wooden sign that had obviously been hand made stating Gopher Island Welcomes you! I considered that a good sign and climbed out of the canoe hauling it up onto the shore and holding it steady so that Colin could crawl out of it.

"Wow. That's all I can says, just wow. This place is amazing. Come on Dunc what are you waiting for." Colin said excitedly pulling on my arm to get me to move faster. I pulled the canoe up about 100 feet inwards and tied it to the first tree I saw.

Never having been very adept at following trail signs I handed my map over to Colin and let him lead me into the darkness that was the island. I followed behind him like a lost puppy tiring much quicker then Colin. After thinking baout it for a few minutes I had to stop him, "Colin, can we please take a break for awhile. I am not very good at all the climbing and walking that you do." I fell backwards and laid on the ground staring at the smoke filled sky.

Colin sat down next to me and passed his water bottle over. Thankfully I took it from him taking a sip then leaning back on the cool earth again. Why did I ever allow him to let me do this. I hate hiking that's why I travel mostly in boats, like my canoe. Sighing, I lifted an arm up to Colin so that he could help me to my feet then brushed the dirt off of my clothes.

Colin put his hand in mine and smiles at me, "No worries man, only like 3 miles and we should be at a real kick ass waterfall. It doesn't even look like it is going to be up hill." Holding his hand I begged my legs to start walking again and we continued on. After another mile we descended deep into the heart of this forest. I couldn't understand where the hell we were going but Colin had his little compass and map out and seemed to be positive about where we were. Just in case I wasn't going to ask him.

"hey man are we almost there??? I am getting really tired.." I started to complain. I couldn't help it I was tired and my feet were sore. I was here to canoe so I didn't bring any decent shoes. Only my one pair of Teva's which I believe were causing blisters.

"Awwww my poor baby tired... Ya want me to carry you Dunc." Colin asked me.

I hit his chest and grumbled a little bit then continued walking down the path. Excitedly I told him, "Colin hey stop wait!!! Listen! I think I can hear water in the distance." Sure enough up ahead I saw a might rushing river falling from the sky.

The view was amazing I could not believe my eyes. Colin just smirked like he had known all along that there would be a water fall and it would be spectacular. Seeing that look on his face I just wanted to whack him in the back of the head. Silently I was dreading the walk back out of this jungle.

I felt a rush of air past me as Colin went sprinting off into the direction o the waterfall. When I arrived I saw him sitting on the waters edge dangling his feet in. "Ya ever do any rock climbing Dunc??"

Looking up nervously at the cliff placed in front of me I replied, " Uhh not really ya see I'm really not to much into heights.."

Cutting me off while I was talking Colin said, " Perfect this will be a great time to learn how to rock climb." He went over to his day pack and pulled out what looked to be a hundred feet of rope and I watched in amazement as I wondered how I never noticed all that stuff before.

I started to get very worried as out of Colin's magical bag of trick he pulled two harnesses and started hooking me up to one of them. "Hey, hey man! Watch out for the junk that stuffs special we have grown quite attached!"

Laughing at me he gently rearranged my stuff and finished hooking on the harness then quickly stepped into his own. "So uh this is all well and good I have this little ropey harness thing hooked to me but how the hell am i going to get up there???" I questioned him anxiously.

"Don't worry babe. I will go first and lay an easy path for you then you will hook up to the rope and follow the path I set ok. It will be simple I swear. The view from up there should be amazing sooo lets get going." With that he took a coil of rope and some metal doohickeys and a hammer and started climbing up this rock face.

When he was about half way up he called down for me to start coming up explaining to me how to hook my harness clips onto the guide rope and climb. After a few tries I got the hang of it and was soon moving cautiously up the towards Colin's smiling face.

I think that this is the single scariest thing that I have ever done. I cannot believe that Colin actually got me up here!! He was right though the view when we reached the top of the waterfall was breath taking and definitely worth the fear and anxiety of climbing up. When we reached the top Colin and I sat down to take a little break, he didn't need one but i was exhausted. Lucky he's so nice to me lol. Sadly in the distance I could still see the smoke rising and hovering, painting the sky a dark gray color. If I hadn't known that it was the smoke I would have been very worried that we were going to get another rain storm.

I took off my Tevas to study my feet, boy were they a bloody site (literally). Sadly without any medical supplies or even socks I went to pull my shoes back on to my feet. I swear we walked at least 20 miles to the middle of the island today. It was mad crazy how many trees and hills I fell over just to make Colin happy today. He is lucky I like him so damn much. Grumbling a little bit I began to get up not even wanting to fathom how we get down this big rock cliff....

I took one last look over the horizon and happily smiled as I saw the sun beginning to penetrate through the clouds. Maybe this whole disaster will be over soon. Sadly that means that Colin will be going back to Australia at the end and me home to my boring little life in Ohio. Ohio is like the shit state there is nothing good there but farms. It is only ranked slightly higher then Jersey in my eyes. Who knows maybe by some stroke of luck Colin will decide he wants to come to Ohio and live with me forever.... One can never be too hopeful I guess.

~Duncan~

Colin walked over to me and began to hook up the ropes and harness to me, assuring me once again that he would be going down first. As Colin strapped on his helmet and clipped onto the ropes he tapped my helmet gently and smiled, " No worries dude, this is the fun part." Then he began just walking backwards down the cliff. In awe I sat there waiting for his instructions before following him down the waterfall.

My feet never actually hit the bottom of the rock wall. I just kept going down and down and down without looking behind me till before I knew it I was sitting on the ground relaxing. I had never been happier to have two feet on solid ground before in my life.

Then reality sunk in! Shit I had like 10 miles through the forest to walk just to get back to our canoe now. Damnit! That's no good! Slowly I began to trudge along behind Colin. He must have taken pity on me because he offered to carry me for a while. My sore feet spoke for me and leaped onto Colin's back and relaxed against him.

As Colin's rhythmic walking continued I began to realize just how strong this guy really was. Three inches shorter then I was and about 20 pounds lighter and here he is carrying me through the forest without even breaking a sweat. Lightly I turned my head and gave him a little kiss on the neck before laying back down on top of him.

We arrived back at the trail head about three hours later. I don't know how Colin could walk that quickly while still carrying me but I guess it doesn't really matter. Once back at the canoe Colin immediately picked up his paddle and laid down at the bottom of the boat for his own nap. I paddled us back to the island we were staying at.

Watching the shore and the smoke as I paddled I could see a significant difference. There was no longer smoke and flames shooting out of the earth. All that was left was a mild still smoldering look about the ground. Sadly I noted that that meant that we would both have to separate and head back to our own homes soon.

Wow what a trip that was. I am so happy that Dunc arranged the day just so that I could have some fun on the land. It was kind of funny to watch him as he tried to work the map and compass to orient himself. Chuckling I took it from him and quickly was oriented and had found what should have been a kick ass waterfall a few miles away. Looking at Dunc feet and seeing him wearing just a pair of Tevas I knew that somebody was gonna be hurting later!

I am so proud to have been the first person to ever teach Dunc how to rock climb. I think he truly enjoyed it. It was kind of sad watching how scared he was in the beginning but once he got going a little bit he wasn't half bad at all. While Dunc thought I was asleep the whole ride home, I actually wasn't I was just lying there watching the insides of my eye lids. Alright truly I was asleep for a lot of it but there was some time where I was just laying there thinking about the trip and the fire and my new friend and everything that had happened.

It's kind of weird how much you can learn to like someone. Originally I thought that this guy was nice but nothing special ya know. He was just like a lost puppy or something, but I am really beginning to like him. It's strange I am sitting on a rock overlooking the water and just watching the clouds move by. This place is so peaceful I just wish that I could live here forever. With Dunc even.

-COLIN-

Well our time here is almost up. I woke up and looked out over the earth today and saw no remnants of fire except the charred earth. Today is the day! Colin and I are going o pack up our base camp and hike back out and hope that we don't miss our bus home. I am truly going to miss him when he is gone. Colin claims that he really likes me and I like him but I don't know what we will do since he needs to go back to Australia and me to Ohio. I guess we will just exchange info and numbers and try to stayin touch. Who knows he might decide that he wants a tour of Ohio some day.

I need to go and start packing up now. I really hope everything works out for the better. I really do like Colin a lot. I think I could be very happy with him from now till ever. It is kind of weird how some people drift into each others lives and leave such an impression that it can never be erased no matter how much it hurts or that you want it to be. I just hope that Colin doesn't become just a memory. I want him to be something so much more then that to me.

~Love Duncan~

Epilogue:

Colin and Dunc hugged goodbye at the train station in New York City. At that point Dunc had already made plans to go visit Colin for 3 weeks in Australia during Christmas break. Both of them were online constantly or on the phone trying to keep up with each other. Eventually they did end up living together. Colin moved to the United States and Duncan moved out of his parents house and they moved in together somewhere in Wisconsin where they have lived happily every since.

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