A Hike That was More Exciting Than Expected. . .

By Amanda, 10, New Hope Christian School, South Bend, Indiana, USA

CHAPTER 1: Exciting Preparation

Jeremy Sanders stuffed a flashlight and fresh batteries into his backpack. He could hardly contain his excitement. The next day, he and his family were going to go hiking in the mountains! It was going to be a wonderful experience!
Jeremy stood up and ran to the kitchen. "Mom, " he said breathlessly.
Mrs. Sanders smiled. "Yes, dear? "
"Are you going to pack our food, or are we responsible for bringing our own things to eat? " he asked.
"Don't worry, dear. The food is up to me. But don't forget, you promised Dad you'd help him with the tents, and other camping accesories, " Mrs. Sanders replied.
"I know, " Jeremy said. "I won't forget. Thanks. " He ran back to his room and pulled all of his socks out of their drawer.
Just then, his sister Jenny appeared in the doorway. "Jeremy. . . " she began.
He looked up.
". . . Should I bring a flashlight? " she asked.
He laughed at her innocence. Jenny was only six. "Yes, Jenny, a flashlight is necessary on a hike, " he answered.
Jenny disappeared. Jeremy grabbed a pack of matches. He knew the hike would be a big adventure, but he had no idea how big it really would be. . .

CHAPTER 2: Finishing Touches on Packing

Jeremy was up at five. He was finished with breakfast before Mr. and Mrs. Sanders even appeared outside their room. His shower was done before they finished breaksfast. Yes, Jeremy was unquestionably excited.
Jenny appeared sleepy-eyed at his door about an hour before they were to leave. "Jeremy. . . " she said in a squeaky voice.
He sighed. "Yes, Jenny? "
"Would you help me get the tangles out of my hair before I take a shower? " she questioned him.
Jeremy rolled his eyes. He took her hand and led her to Mrs. Sanders. "Mom, will you help Jenny get the knots out of her hair? " he asked.
Mrs. Sanders smiled. "Yes, of course I will, Jenny. Come to the bathroom and we'll get a hairbrush, " she replied. She exchanged a knowing smile with Jeremy.

CHAPTER 3: A Visit from Mike

A knock at the door was yet another interruption from Jeremy's last-minute packing. The open door revealed his next-door neighbor and friend, Mike.
"Hey, ol' buddy! " Mike exclaimed. "I just wanted ya ta know I am going ta miss ya! "
"But maybe you can come with us sometime, " Jeremy suggested, then realized what he'd said. Any sort of a 'suggestion' was taken as a promise to Mike.
"That'd be great! " Mike replied, his face lighting up with a wide smile. "I want to give you this before you leave. " He handed a parcel wrapped in bright purple paper to Jeremy.
Jeremy took it and carefully unwrapped it. He found one of the high-powered flashlights that he'd been wanting. "Gee, thanks! " he exclaimed. "You can come in for a minute, but we're going to be leaving soon and I've still got a few things to pack. "
Mike seemed glad to have been invited in, and followed Jeremy into the house.
Jenny came running out. "Mike! I'm so glad to see you! It's been a while! "
Jeremy laughed, and whispered to Mike, "That's what mom always says when she sees someone she knows. Jenny thinks that it's a 'grown up' thing to do. "
Mike laughed, and they started to Jeremy's room. Jeremy told Mike it was going to be the best time of his life, but later he would find out that it would be the worst time of his life.

CHAPTER 4: Off to a Rolling Start

"Goodbye! I hope ya have a wonderful trip! " Mike called.
"I'm sure I will! " Jeremy yelled back from the back of the jeep. He WAS sure he would. . . but might he get homesick. He quickly waved the thought away. He was going to enjoy this trip and not worry about his friends, house, and other things back home.
Jenny played with a rag doll that Mrs. Sanders had made for her out of an old dish rag, and a wooden doll that Mr. Sanders had carved for her out of firewood. The rag doll was a girl, the wooden doll the boy, and they were going to a ball.
Jeremy was disgusted with the whole thing. He carefully examined the new flashlight Mike had given him. He enjoyed hearing his coins rattle in his pocket when they went over a bump. Now and then, he would look over the back seat at his backpack, as if he didn't it would disappear.
Mrs. Sanders read a map and pointed out certain things to Mr. Sanders, who was driving and would look when he got a chance.
Jeremy looked out the window at the passing scenery. He was awed at its magnificent beauty. But little did he know that he was embarking on one of the most exciting, yet dangerous, journeys that a eleven-year-old boy had ever made.

CHAPTER 5: Arrival at the Tourist Attraction Center

Jenny jumped out of the car. She was eager to stretch her legs. Her dolls were left on the seat.
Jeremy was not so quick. He lagged behind, looking at the surroundings with disgust. "Why, Jeremy, " Mr. Sanders said, "I thought you were excited about this journey. But yet, you look like you just swallowed a hippopotamus. You're so sad. "
"I thought we were going to be in complete nature, " Jeremy explained. "Yet here we are in the middle of a bunch of modern buildings. "
Mrs. Sanders laughed. "Now, Jeremy, this isn't the hiking trail over the mountains. This is simpily the tourist center. Here you can pick up information, have questions answered, arrange for a tour and things like that. We'll have to leave our things here and walk a ways to get to the beginning of the trail. "
"Oh. How dumb of me, " Jeremy replied, readily hopping out of the car and joining his family.
They walked into the tourist attraction center and looked around for a while - which Jeremy found quite dull - before beginning the actual hike.
But finally, his parents were ready to go. They would have never considered this journey, had they known what lay ahead. . .

CHAPTER 6: Time to Hike!

Jeremy practically dragged Mr. and Mrs. Sanders to the beginning of the trail. He felt as if he couldn't have waited one more minute.
"All right, all right, Jeremy, " Mrs. Sanders laughed, "we're coming! "
And then, they had finally begun! Horray! ! ! They hiked for a few hours without stopping except for to point out a pretty flower or unusual tree. Jeremy wouldn't admit it for a million dollars, but he was beginning to feel it in his legs.
Finally, Mr. Sanders stopped. "This seems like a good place to set up camp to me! We'll stop here tonight. " He reached over his shoulder and swung the tent bag down onto the ground.
"Hey, dad, can we - Jenny and I - explore a little in the woods? " asked Jeremy, his curiousity growing as he studied the dark shadows.
"Be careful. " Mr. Sanders smiled.
"Yes! " Jeremy exclaimed. He had not expected his dad to relent so easily.
After a half-hour, Jenny spoke. "Jeremy, shouldn't we go back? It's getting dark, " she whined.
"All right, I suppose we better, " agreed Jeremy reluctantly.
As they carefully made their way back, Jeremy stepped on a loose stick and slipped. He rolled all the way to the bottom of the steep hill.
"Jeremy! " cried Jenny. She raced back to the camp and told Mr. and Mrs. Sanders what had happened.
They tried to find Jeremy, but were unable to locate the spot.
"Oh dear God, please help Jeremy! " Mrs. Sanders sobbed. "Please, don't let him die! "

CHAPTER 7: All Alone

Jeremy had been unconcious for a few hours, and now had revived. He had been walking for a while, and had no idea where he was going. Where was he? Would he ever see home again. He shivered in the cold night. Up and down the mountains he trudged, hoping to see something familiar. Nothing.
His body ached, and he was scratched and bruised from rolling down the hill. He wondered what had happened to Jenny - had she made it back to the camp, or was she, too, wandering aimlessly around the countryside?
If only he had been wiser and not gone so far. . . if he had only listened to Jenny when she protested to going father for the reason that they would get lost. Then, maybe he would be sitting at a campfire eating marshmallows.
But no, he was out in the middle of nowhere, with no idea where he was, cold, and lost. There were dangerous predators that roamed the hillside. There were nights that got below freezing. There were acres of land with no sign of water. . . with no sign of humans.
Would he ever, ever, ever, find his family again?

CHAPTER 8: A Desperate Search

"He couldn't have gone far, " said Mrs. Sanders. She was still clinging onto the faint hope that they would find him within 24 hours. Mr. Sanders had told her that that was practically impossible.
"I know that dear, but this is a large terrain. He could have gone a ten minutes walk in ANY direction. I think we ought to notify the forest rangers of this, " said Mr. Sanders, putting a reasurring arm around her.
"He rolled down a hill, " put in Jenny. "And he wasn't moving. "
This caused Mrs. Sanders to cry all the louder. "It's immposible, " she sobbed. "Oh, please Jeremy, hold on a little longer. We'll find you. Just hold on a little longer. "

CHAPTER 9: Misery

Jeremy tried to cover himself with leaves. It did no good. He tried branches of trees. Still, it didn't warm him.
It was night, and he was at the top of a mountain. He didn't have the energy to go back down where it was warmer. But up at the top, there was snow! And he was freezing. . . or so he felt.
What could he do? What WAS there to do? What did one do when they were lost out in the mountains and no one knew anything about it except for a little siser, who may not have made it herself?
He was at a loss of ideas. He was worried that he would freeze to death. He had to find shelter.

CHAPTER 10: A Trail. . . A Clue!

"This is it! " exclaimed Jenny, staring down the hillside. "This is the hill that Jeremy rolled down! "
"Well, look at that trail! " Mr. Sanders said, pointing at a path Jeremy had made when he fell.
"He's not down there, so at least we know he's alive, " added Mrs. Sanders.
"We can follow his trail, " suggested Mr. Sanders. "You can see were he walked. The leaves are crushed. We'll follow his trail, and it'll lead us right to him! "
"What a wonderful idea! " exclaimed Mrs. Sanders. "That's EXACTLY what we'll do! We'll find him in no time. He can't be that far ahead of us. After all, he just got lost last night. "
"Well then, that's decided, " said Mr. Sanders. "Let's go. "

CHAPTER 11: Footsteps!

Jeremy woke to find the sun shining brightly. It was morning. He had found a cave in the mountain the night before, and it had served as a shelter. It had been warmer than being exposed to the elements.
Jeremy was nervous. What would happen to him? He was lost, and had no idea where he was. And if HE himself didn't know, how could a rescue group?
He tried to console himself with good thougts like the fact that maybe he'd made a trail, and a rescue party was on it right this minute. . . or better yet, his family. But no, he decided, that's all his wishes. Really, their guess is as good as his.
Wait, footsteps! Whose were they? Those of a dangerous animal?

CHAPTER 12: Rescued!

Soon, Jeremy could tell who was responsible for the footsteps. His family! He indeed HAD made a trail, and THEY were on it!
He pinched himself to be sure he wasn't dreaming. He wasn't. There they were, in person, coming to get him! And Jenny was with them.
He stepped out and hollered and waved. They came running, and there was a gigantic family reunion. It seemed as if they hadn't seemed each other for years! Everyone was SO glad to be together again!
From then on, whenever the Sanders went on a hike, they ALWAYS stuck together. Never again did Jeremy and Jenny go exploring alone.


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