We were camped five miles down the trail from Corn Creek. Zephan headed back to the car the night before, the rest of the family was taking their sweet time packing up and my eight year old patience was thin.
At the time I saw no problems heading off by myself down the trail, which is exactly what I did.
About midway my mind was fully immersed into my imagination. Everything was bright and optimistic, until one sound poisoned the well.
A crunch of dead branches in the thicket of creek brush just ahead sent my mind into a red and black whirlwind.
One sound in the creek bottom was enough to conjure up the re occurring nightmare I had on the river. The dream of baboon-like animals flooding out of the mountains and descending upon the campers down below, ripping open tents and devouring the people inside.
Eight years old, all alone on the trail, I was certain of the realness of these creatures. Still petrified I stood there, my eyes fixed on the thicket.
Soon sounds of movement came from higher up the creek, and then I finally saw the culprits.
A small band of elk grazing around the creek bottom. My presence was of no importance to them and I couldn't be happier as a wave of relief washed away the memory of my nightmare.
I silently thanked them and moved forward.