The Journey

Chapter 7

By Sunshine Boy

"Hey Dan, wake up"

Dan groaned and opened his eyes to see a big blond face grinning at him.

"Oh, what time is it?" Dan groaned.

"11:00 Am. We leave at noon."

"Bloody hell." Dan groaned and rolled over.

"Look I'm sorry to wake you but I didn't think you'd wake on your own in time."

"It's okay, thanks for waking me."

"I tried to get you up for breakfast at 8:00 but you just slept so I brought back a muffin and..." Sam talked on like he was trying to explain himself to an angry teacher or parent.

"Sam." Dan said as he turned back over and pulled off the covers. "I'm going to have a shower."

"Oh. Okay but you should hurry."


Beau drove into Banff with the Beatles 'back in the USSR' booming out of the stereo. He smiled and sang along but all the while he worried about his friend. He was starting to think that perhaps he should phone Dan when he got home, it might be a good idea 'just to check on him' Beau thought. He glanced down to check his speed and noticed that his temperature light was on. Looking up he saw that he was approaching the off ramp to Banff so he decided to try to make it to Banff to check on his car.

"Come on baby, you can make it." He said as he tapped the dashboard and reached down to turn off the stereo.

As Beau reached the top of the on ramp and merged into traffic a coolant line burst and great clouds of steam erupted from under the hood. Beau swore and shut off the engine allowing the car to coast to a stop on the shoulder of the highway. "Damn you." Beau growled as he got out of the car and threw open the hood. "You're just a radio with wheels!" he shouted as the huge clouds of steam rose into the sky and a gallon of boiling green antifreeze spewed out onto the road.


Dan made a last minute check of the room then stepped out the door into the pouring rain. "What the Fuck!" he shouted while waving his fist angrily skyward. Sam grinned and laughed a little. Seeing Sam laugh Dan couldn't help but grin.


"Damn car, damn long road, fucking car, damn long road, I bought the damn thing new spark plugs too...I bought it spark plugs and look what it did to me. You son of a bitch!" Beau waved his fist at his car which was still steaming on the shoulder of the highway now almost a kilometre behind him. 'I wonder what Dan's doing now.' Beau thought.

Beau walked all the way to Banff where he got a tow truck.

"I knew being a motor association member would pay off one day." Beau said as he got into the cab of the tow truck.

"Where should I pull her to?" the driver asked.

"To my house in Calgary."

"Sure you don't wanna go to a shop in Canmore?"

"Nah I'd rather fix her myself at home. The extra 90Km isn't a problem is it?"

"Nah." The driver turned onto the highway. "So what brings you out here?"

"Well it's kind of a strange story, I drove my best friend to Vancouver."

"What's strange about that? Just visiting friends right?"

"Sort of. Not really." Beau said then gave the driver the abridged version.

"Kinda an intense way of finding a girl eh?"

"Yeah." Beau sighed. "I think he's just fussy, I mean there are many girls I wouldn't spend much time with, but all the same, I could probably list at least 5 that I'd really like to try for a relationship with. But not Dan, he's never been like that. He's never met a girl that's met all his criteria. He always says, "yeah she's nice but she's not great." And even the few girls he did go out with he said, usually right after the first date, "She's a nice girl but this won't work out."

"So he's discriminating, he wants to get the best he can and isn't willing to waste his time or hers when he knows it won't work. I can respect that."

"Well I hope he finds her after all of this, there's bound to be only one match for him in the whole world I'm sure."


"You have your map and your start times, the route chosen on your map is just a rough guideline, it'll get you to Calgary but it's indirect and not the best way to go for several reasons that will become apparent to you if you travel it. That route was chosen intentionally however to encourage you to take risks and find other paths. Remember, you must travel on human power; walking, running, cycling, etc, the whole distance and you must stick with your partner. At any time you can quit and be picked up by a helicopter or whatever means is appropriate for your location, all you have to do is pull off your monitor chip. Even though this isn't a race you must be in Calgary within 30 days or you will be picked up and disqualified."

Dan listened to all of the instructions then watched as the first group left. Every 10 minutes another group crossed the start line.

At 12:50 Dan and Sam stood on the start line, the speaker told them to go and as Dan took his first step he paused for a second and grinned briefly. 'Too bad I can't actually count the number of steps.' He thought.


"This trail is a bloody muddy mess." Sam said 15 minutes latter in an attempt to make conversation.

"Yeah." Dan mumbled as he led on. After a half hour they arrived at a dirt road that bisected fields of grapes and ginseng.

"At least it's warm rain falling on us." Sam tried again.

'Why does he keep wanting to talk?' "Yeah."

There was a short pause, then, "you know if you don't want to talk to me all you have to do is just say so." Sam said with a hurt tone. Dan stopped in his tracks about to say, 'I don't want to talk to you.' But when he turned he was face to face with Sam who looked both hurt and scared about what Dan might do after he turned and stopped so fast. "I'm sorry Sam, I just don't know what to say." Dan said apologetically then turned and continued down the road.

By 2:17 they reached a T intersection where the road they were on ended.

"According to the map we're supposed to turn right here but I think if we climb the hill in front of us and go down the other side it'll be faster, what do you think?" Dan asked.

"Whatever you want." Sam sighed.

The hill was steep and muddy and Dan was very glad when he reached the top. Before them was a pine forest.

"We have to cross this forest and in a kilometre we'll be back on our path but we have to take a compass bearing here and according to the map there's a steep hill or possibly a cliff in those trees, it's hard to tell specifically what it is on this map though." Dan explained.

"We'll know when we come to it." Sam said.

"Alright." Dan said as he led the way into the forest.

The forest was primarily lodge-pole-pine; tall and straight as arrows. There was very little scrub and ground cover so traveling was easy. Eventually the forest opened up onto a steep muddy hill about 20 meters long with more forest on the other side.

"This must be the hill, it looks like it's 45 degrees." Sam said.

"Yeah." Dan said as he tried the hill." It's very slippery, we should...."

"Whoa!" Sam shouted as he took a step forward and started to slide. Dan quickly grabbed Sam by the loop on the top of his backpack but it was too late. As Sam fell forward into the mud he pulled Dan in along with him. Then they started sliding uncontrollably down the muddy hill.

"Wah! Whoa! AHH!" Sam shouted but Dan knew better and kept his mouth closed to keep out the mud. Dan tried desperately to slow himself down while not letting go of Sam but it was useless, the hill might as well be a foot deep with grease. As they approached the edge of the forest Dan could see that the forest was only a couple of feet thick then there was the edge of a cliff.

"Dan!" Sam shouted as he too saw the edge that they were approaching.

Dan reached out to catch a tree when they reached the strip of trees before the edge. He managed to hold onto the tree and in a sudden violent yank he stopped his weight plus Sam's and in the process shot fire through his arm.

"Whoa." Sam said as he peered over the edge to the rocky river bed below.

"Damn, my arm hurts." Dan moaned as he massaged his arm and tried to determine if there was any serious injury. His arm looked okay and still worked but it would be a while before it would feel normal. Latter on Dan would start to think about how easily he could have been badly hurt and not known what to do.

After a few minutes Dan started walking down a steep path that brought him to the bottom of the cliff. Sam followed him and stood by the river with Dan looking back up to the cliff.

"Damn your muddy." Dan said looking at Sam, it was piled high in his hair, streaked across his face and smeared down his body all the way to his feet.

"You can talk, you should see yourself." Sam said. Dan had of course guessed by that time that if Sam looked bad he probably did too.

"Perhaps we should set up camp, build a fire, find something to eat and then clean up." Dan said as he wiped mud off his face.

Sam looked down at his watch and saw that it was 3:00


"There's an overhang of rock protruding from the cliff there, see it?" Dan asked.


"I think it would be a good place to build a fire and we can put our tents right there next to it, the ground is level and there aren't many rocks. So let's pitch our tents."

"Ummmm...Dan, my tent isn't water proof, the rain will go straight through."

Dan stopped himself from sighing and said, "Fine, my tent is plenty big."

Once the tent was set up, Sam collected driftwood and Dan split and broke it up with a hatchet that Sam had brought.

Dan used his big pan, the one that hang on the outside of his back pack, to heat some water on his camping stove and washed his hair and face. Then he changed the water, heated some more and allowed Sam to wash. Afterward, both boys stripped to their underwear and washed their clothes in the river then draped them over some dry rocks under the overhang.

"At least the rain has stopped for now." Dan said.

"Yeah but now I'm cold." Sam said.

"Put some fresh clothes on and sit by the fire." Dan suggested.

"I don't have any extra clothes, just some coats and rain pants." Sam confessed. "I wanted to travel as light as I could.

"No wonder your bag is so small, you're grossly under packed." Dan said. "I only have one extra shirt and pants, I'm sorry." Dan added.

"Don't worry, I'll just sit by the fire." Sam said as he moved close to the fire. Dan watched him move, despite being skinny and kind of indoorsy, Sam walked with confidence, careful were to step and almost, 'graceful' Dan thought.

Dan broke his stare quickly and put on his fresh clothes. "I'm gonna try to fish in the stream." He said as he put together his fishing rod.

"Okay, good luck."

Dan walked a short distance downstream until he found a deep pool of water into which he could see the shadows of many fish moving. Unfortunately even after an hour of fishing, those shadows proved much more difficult to catch then Dan had suspected. He sat on the edge of the pool looking at the fish, 'they're so close, there must be another way.' Dan thought then got a new idea. He used his knife to sharpen a nearby stick. Then he squatted on a rock and waited for a fish to venture too close. When one did he plunged the spear into the water as hard and fast as he could. He managed to partially impale the fish and pin him to a rock at the bottom of the pool. Then Dan reached into the cold water to his shoulder, using the spear and his other hand he carefully pulled the fish to the surface and threw it onto the land. It fell onto a nearby rock flopping and bleeding. Dan stood over him, a grey blue rock in his hand. He stared into the fish's small yellow eye. "I'm so sorry." He said as he brought the rock down on the fish's head.


When Dan got back, Sam was wrapped in his sleeping bag sitting by the fire.

"Food." Dan grinned as he held up the fish.

Sam smiled back but said nothing.

Using a small pan and his camping stove, Dan cooked the 12-inch fish. The two boys shared the fish and some energy bars Dan had brought.

At 9:00 Dan lit his lantern and sat back to work on his journal.

'Day 2...'


"Hmmm?" Dan hummed as he wrote.

"I just wanted to thank you, for umm, for catching me. And for catching dinner."

Dan put down his journal and looked over at Sam who was sitting an arm span away wrapped up in his sleeping bag.

"Sam, we're traveling partners, as long as I'm out here with you I'll always catch you I promise. We only have each other right?"

"Thanks." Sam said shyly.

"I hope your clothes are dry by tomorrow." Dan said.

"Me too, what should I do if they're not?"

"Don't worry, we'll figure that out if it happens."

Dan finished his journal entry, careful not to write anything about Sam as he was sitting right next to him and although he was holding the pad in such a way that he was sure Sam couldn't see it, he still felt cautious. When he was done he turned down his lantern to half power and put it on the rock he was sitting on.

"I'm going to bed now Sam, I'll see you in the morning, wake me again If I'm not up by let's say 7:00 okay?"

"Sure." Sam said while daydream staring at the rainy river and dark forest beyond.

"Goodnight then."

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