Quietly humming under his breath, ease began seeping into Martin’s muscles. Beneath him, the warm forest floor accepting his prone body like a familiar lover, laying to rest the physical and emotional weight of past days. A light breeze stirred a lingering aroma of dry pine, holding the fragrance like a revolving door, a flickering wisp between the departure of summer and arrival of autumn. Watching the setting sun causing shadows to stretch away, he knew the thin altitude would soon absorb day’s warmth into the evening air. Filling his lungs and savoring the moment, a smile crept to his lips, he thought, “what a great day.” His ebbing frustration displaced by a sense of control. Nature was smiling, encouraging his song, and beckoning tranquility from all around to join him in this moment.

At ease in the mountains, all of his immediate needs within reach. Without looking, he could access a tidy cache containing sustenance, communications, optics, and other equipment. He had more, of course, easily retrieved but stashed away in a pack concealed….


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