Dad had spent months harping about the the fifty-two lakes that can be counted from Snowyside Mountain. He also had spent months harping about this bit of wisdom from experienced mountain climbers:
People don’t die going up mountains.
They die coming down.
This wisdom was a variation of our parents’ instructions that we kids were free to run up all the hills we want, but don’t let them catch us running down!
Whether it be a hill or a mountain, going down is when people are tired. Gravity is making it ease to get going too fast. And if you fall you do not fall a few degrees into the ground and rocks in front of you, you fall well over ninety degrees, through space, picking up speed until you hit the ground and rocks sloping away, where you keep sliding, scraping off skin and perhaps hitting your head on a rock to stop you.
Climbing Snowyside Mountain there were saddles between the smaller peaks before we reached the final summit of the mountain. One of these saddles was very narrow, with loose shale rock sloping steeply away from a path that was only a foot wide. The shale on both sides formed long slopes of scree that would not stop sliding out from under us should we slip onto it.
I remember this narrow path as some six to ten feet long but it might have been four.
Dad paused when he first saw this dangerous path, but his determination to get to the top of Snowyside let him judge Vicky and I as old enough to understand the danger. We three sat down and, legs dangling on both sides of the path for stability, inched our butts along until the danger had passed.
After reaching the summit and counting fifty-two lakes we headed down and again came to this narrow path.
Not one of us hesitated. We walked right across it!
Need I say more about how mountain climbers perish?