"Shhh don't move, honey. It's all right. Just go back to sleep. That's right, close your eyes and go to sleep." She hears his soft soothing voice, feels his feather light touch on her face. She slowly relaxes, surrendering her sore aching body to the peacefulness of sleep.
"Walker, this is going to be great. No telephone, no TV, and no neighbors. I'm glad you thought of this, darling. This vacation is just what we need." She turns around to let him help with her backpack. As she fastens the straps, Walker puts on the other, bigger pack, which includes the tent. The jeep that had brought them to this point is almost out of site as they start up the trail to the cabin. Both are looking forward to a week of rest and relaxation. She stops to stare at the beautiful panorama that is in front of her. The high, snow-covered mountain peaks, the trees whose leaves are just starting to change and the two eagles soaring way up high, close to the clouds.
"Come on, Alex. Let's try to make it to the timber line before dark." She turns then and follows him up the trail. It takes the rest of the day and half of the next before they walk into the small clearing where the cabin is located.
Walker stops and waits until Alex moves up next to him then puts his arm around her waist, "Well, hon, this is going to be our home for the next seven days."
"Oh, darling, it's beautiful." She turns to kiss him on the cheek. "We should have come up here on our honeymoon. Then again, maybe it's a good thing we didn't; I may never want to leave here."
He tightens his arm and lays his head against hers, "I know. I feel that way every time I come up here." He turns his head slightly, just enough to kiss her softly on the nose, "Come on, let's go in and make sure everything is all right."
The next seven days are spent fishing, making love, hiking, making love, exploring the area, making love, and just generally taking it easy. The nights are spent talking about their future, their dreams, making love, and really getting to know each other. Before they are ready, the time comes to close up the cabin and start back down the trail. Standing at the edge of the clearing staring at the cabin and remembering the love they had shared there makes it doubly hard for them to leave.
Walker turns to Alex and sees the tears in her eyes, "Come on, hon, we'll be back." He takes her in his arms and pulls her close, "We'll always have what we shared here because we're taking it with us."
"I know, but this has been like heaven here. I'm really gonna miss it."
"Me, too." He steps back, kisses her tenderly on the lips, then arm in arm they start down the trail back to civilization.
Early that afternoon, Walker cautions her, "Alex, the worst part of this trail is just ahead, so be careful, okay?"
"Okay. Walker is it getting colder or is it just me? Seems to me there's a little more bite in the air today, than there was yesterday."
"I think you're right Alex. It feels like a cold front maybe moving in. All the more reason to not dally, we don't want to get caught up here when the snow flies. We would probably be snowed in till spring."
As they walk on a narrow trail along the top of a deep ravine, Alex's eyes are fixed on Walker's behind as she follows him along the trail. Giggling, "Darling, you know you have the sexiest rear end and watching you walk mmmm is really turning me on. Maybe I ought to walk in front of you."
"Huh uh, then I'd be the one getting turned on watching you."
Suddenly, the scream of a mountain cat startles Alex, causing her to stumble and loses her footing. She lets out a shrill cry, as she slides down the almost vertical side of the ravine.
When Walker hears the cat, he turns just as Alex slips over the side. He watches with his heart in his mouth as she slides and tumbles down the wall of the ravine. Knowing that there is no way he can follow her down the ravine, he immediately begins looking for another way down.
By the time he makes it to the bottom of the ravine, it's nearly dark. When he finally reaches her, he kneels beside her and whispers, "Alex Alex Oh, God Please." He gently turns her over and feels for a pulse, which is rapid but steady. He checks her arms and legs, thankful to find that they aren't broken. He removes what is left of her backpack then, as he starts to remove her coat, he sees a stick embedded in her right shoulder. He manages to get the coat off without disturbing the stick but knows it has to be removed. He also sees a large lump on her head, which concerns him the most because of the possibility of a concussion. After thoroughly checking her over, he determines that the stick in her shoulder is the worst of her injuries. He sets up their tent, builds a fire and then searches the area for herbs that he can use to fight against infection. After brewing the herbs for several minutes, he takes his shirt off, tears it into strips and drops some of them into the boiling pot. He spreads out the sleeping bag on the floor of the tent then moves her inside. Using the light from the fire, he removes the stick from her shoulder as gently as possible. He takes the scraps of shirt that are soaking in the herb mixture and places them on the wound. Using the rest of his shirt, he bandages the wound and finally gets the bleeding stopped. He then gets in the sleeping bag with her, using his body heat to help keep her warm.
By the time the sun rises the next morning, he already has a travois built. He puts Alex, still wrapped inside the sleeping bag, on the travois and starts pulling it back to their cabin.
With the rocky terrain and dense undergrowth, it takes him most of the day to reach the cabin. After getting her into bed, he checks her over more thoroughly then cleans and bandages the rest of the cuts. As he finishes, she opens her eyes and looks up at him.
"Walker, my head "
"I know, hon, just rest, okay. You'll be all right."
"What happened? Oooohh . God, I ache all over. My shoulder "
"You took a little trip over the side of the ravine, Alex. You're covered with bruises and you've got a big hole in your shoulder. Just lay still, honey, rest is what you need right now." He leans over and kisses her softly on the lips, then brushes her hair from her forehead.
"We almost made it, didn't we darling." she smiles at him and tries to reach up to touch his face, "Aaah "
"Don't move, Alex." He touches her face and wipes the tear from her eye, "Almost, baby, we'll make it one of these days. Just go to sleep, now, okay?"
Sometime during the night, Alex develops a fever and Walker spends most of the next day trying to bring it down. She has short periods of lucidity but for the most part her ramblings are disjointed. When he thinks she is resting easier, he pulls himself away and heads outside to get water and also to look for more herbs to help fight her fever and prevent infection. When he opens the door, he sees that it has snowed during the night, which is going to make it even harder to get out of the valley.
Returning to the cabin, he mixes up a poultice and applies it to her shoulder in place of the old one. He takes the herb brew that he made for the fever, pours it into a cup, lets it cool then spoons it between Alex's lips.
Now three days later, her fever has finally broken and she is sleeping peacefully. Walker lies down next to her, resting his head against hers. He hadn't gotten much rest while her fever had raged and, as he relaxes, he feels exhaustion pulling him down. Maybe he could sleep just a little while just a little while.
Suddenly Walker's eyes open; he lies still trying to get his mind to focus. Then he realizes that Alex has laid her hand on his, he turns to see her watching him. "Hi, cowboy." She whispers.
He raises up on one elbow and looking down into her face, softly says, "Hi, yourself. How are you feeling?"
"Not too bad. A little weak and stiff. My head has finally stopped hurting, though." She murmurs softly. "How long have I been out of it?"
"About three days." He leans down and touches her lips gently with his. "You really had me worried there for awhile. I thought I was going to lose you."
She puts her left arm around his neck and pulls him down, bringing his head to her breast. "You can't lose me. I won't let you."
As he settles his head down on her breast, "Alex, you're hurt "
"It's all right. If it hurts too much I'll let you know, okay?"
"Well, if you're sure " He murmurs as he settles into her side with his head lying on her left shoulder. He relaxes and sleep takes over, again.
Alex wakes to the smell of a mouth-watering aroma drifting across her nostrils. She turns her head, trying to see where the wonderful smell is coming from and sees Walker standing in front of the stove stirring something in a pot. In a raspy voice, "Smells good." She smiles as he turns around to look at her.
He moves over and sits on the edge of the bed, smiling down at her, "Feel like you could eat something? Here, taste this, let me know what you think it needs. I'm not too good at making soup." He holds the spoon to her lips and she draws the liquid into her mouth, closes her eyes, smacks her lips then looking at him again, "Nothing."
"It doesn't need a thing, darling, it tastes great."
He lays the spoon down and gently raises her up, placing another pillow behind her. When she winces, he murmurs apologetically, "God, I'm sorry, Alex. Guess I'm not much of a nurse, either."
"I'm all right, just a little stiff. Maybe moving around a little is just what I need." She notices the snow in the corners of the windowpanes, and with a startled gasp, "Walker, the snow! We're snowed in aren't we?"
"Well, I don't know if we're snowed in yet, but it has been snowing on and off for the last couple of days. Nothing major yet, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time." He comes back to the bed with a bowl of soup and sits on the edge, "Come on, honey, you need to get some of this down." He lifts the spoon and moves it to her mouth.
"I think I can do that, if you'll just hold the bowl."
Later after Walker has changed her bandages and made sure she is comfortable, he starts checking the storage areas to see what kind of provisions they still have. They have ample amounts of coffee, sugar, flour and some canned goods but the meat supply is gone. They had gotten rid of the small amount that had been left when their seven days had ended. If they are going to be here any length of time he is going to have to go hunting. There is a rifle in the cabin, but he isn't sure about leaving Alex alone.
Alex watches as he rummages through the cabinet. When he takes the rifle down from over the fireplace, "Walker, how are we going to get out of here? The cabin wasn't stocked for a winter up here, was it?"
"No, it wasn't, but we're already five days past our pick up time, so I'm sure they will be looking for us as soon as the snow stops." He sits down at the table with the rifle and starts taking it apart, knowing it should be cleaned before he uses it.
"Walker, what are you doing? You're not going .?"
"Alex, I need to see about finding us some meat before the snow gets any worse. If we get snowed in, we'll need to have meat." He lays the rifle on the table and goes over and sits on the edge of the bed beside Alex. He takes her hand in his, "I just don't like the idea of leaving you here alone." He reaches out and touches her lips with his fingers, then leans in and kisses her softly.
She looks into his face and sees the worry in his eyes. In a soft voice, "Hey, cowboy. I'll be all right. When would you go?"
"Probably in the morning if it isn't snowing."
"Well, I should be up and moving around a little by then, don't you think? As long as the supply of logs is okay, I'll be fine."
"I'll make sure you have plenty of water and I'll bring in an ample supply of wood so you won't have to go outside. I won't stay out any longer than I have too, okay? There is enough food, at least for one, to last for awhile. I'll clean the other rifle, too, so you'll have some protection if you need it." He pulls her up into his arms, holding her tight against his chest, "I just wish I didn't have to leave you alone."
She pushes back slightly, "Darling, you just take care of yourself out there, okay." She smiles softly, "Only one patient allowed at a time." Then pulls him up close again.
Alex watches as Walker disappears into the trees at the edge of the clearing, then seems to be mesmerized by the softly falling snow. She finally turns, picks up a log and puts it into the fireplace, then goes to the stove and gets a cup of the soup that Walker had made before getting back into bed. After eating the soup, she gets up and glances out of the window again. Hoping to see Walker coming back but in her heart, she knows it's too soon. She returns to bed, crawls under the blankets and eventually dozes off.
She wakes up feeling chilled. Sitting up, she realizes that she has almost let the fire go out. She gets up and puts another log on the dwindling fire, then decides to try and wash up since she knows it's been several days since her last bath. After taking a pan bath and washing her hair, her spirits rise considerably. She gets her clothes on and her hiking boots. Since she had used so much of the water bathing, she decides to bring in some snow to melt for water.
Putting her coat on and stepping outside, "Brrr God, I hope Walker is all right. It must be below zero out here. She quickly fills her bucket with snow and goes back inside.
Standing at the window looking out into the dark, she notices how bright the snow looks. Glancing up, she sees the moon shining brightly, making it look almost like day outside. As she looks up at the moon, she realizes that it has stopped snowing. 'Maybe they'll come looking for us if it doesn't snow tomorrow.' She looks back out into the trees again, "Hurry home, darling, I miss you." She turns and lies down on the bed, fully dressed, thinking maybe she will wake when the fire dies down and the cabin starts to cool.
She wakes once during the night to put more logs on the fire, and after looking out the window, she goes back to bed. She dreams that she is lying on the beach in the warm sun and Walker is walking toward her with a plate that is covered with a steak. She can almost smell it. She hears him talking to her, "Alex, it's time to get up." She curls into a tighter ball. "Come on, hon, wake up." She feels a soft touch on her cheek. Startled, she sits up quickly, turns and seeing Walker, throws her good arm around his neck, hugging him tight.
"Oh, Walker, I so glad you're back." She pushes him back and looks at him, "Are you all right?" Seeing his large smile, she pulls him tightly against her.
"Come on, hon, I've got steaks cooking. Let's eat." He stands, pulls her up with him and, with an arm around her waist, moves with her over to the table.
"It looks delicious, darling. When did you get back? Did you run into any trouble?" Then remembering about the snow, she rushes to the window to see if it had started snowing again. The sun was bright on the snow, causing her to shade her eyes. She turns to face Walker, "Does this mean they might be looking for us?"
"I don't know, Alex. Depends on what the weather is like further down the mountain. But come on, let's eat."
After eating, and cleaning up the dishes, Alex notices that Walker looks exhausted. Come on, honey, you look tired and I still haven't got my full strength back. How about we take a nap?"
"Well, I am tired so you won't get any argument out of me." He slips his boots off, and Alex takes hers off then after putting another log on the fire, they pull the quilts back and slip under the blankets. In a very short time, they fall asleep in each other's arms.
"It's awful quiet around here, C.D. Maybe they aren't here. Maybe they got into trouble on the trail."
"Jimmy, will you shut up. We're here so let's check the cabin before we look anywhere else, okay?"
"Look C.D., there's smoke coming out of the chimney. They must be here." Coming up to the door, they slowly push it open. The place looks empty. But as they move into the room, they notice the large mound under the covers on the bed. Jimmy looks at C.D. with a big smile on his face. C.D. has one on his face just as big.
C.D. moves over to the bed, reaches out his hand and lays it on what he believes to be a shoulder, and gently shakes it. "Cordell? Alex? Come on, kids, you want to come out from under there."
The blankets suddenly fly off as Alex and Walker quickly sit up. Surprise is very evident on their faces.
"You two about ready to get out of here?" Walker quickly stands and helps Alex out from under the blankets.
"C.D., you sure are a sight for sore eyes. How did you get up here?" He gives C.D. and Trivette both bear hugs, then offers Alex his hand. "Move slow, Alex, you've probably stiffened up."
"Alex, honey, are you all right? You look like you been in a fight with a bear, and the bear won." He notices that she is keeping her right arm close to her stomach.
"Yeah, counselor, you do look kinda banged up. What happened to you guys, anyway?"
"It's a long story, Jimmy." She puts her left arm around Jimmy's neck and gives him a hug, then moves to C.D. and gives him one, too.
"Well, that story is gonna have to wait. We need to get your gear and get outta here. There's another snow storm on the way, so let's get with it."
Within twenty minutes their gear is packed. Looking back into the cabin, Alex gives a sigh, as Walker pulls the door shut. "Walker, what about the meat you brought back? We can't just leave it here."
"How did you get up here Trivette?"
"We have a plane down on the lake, why?"
"Get that sled and come with me. C.D., you help Alex and go on to the plane. We'll catch up with you in a few minutes."
"You two had better hurry; it's already starting to snow." He turns and with his arm around Alex they hurry down to the lake.
C.D. turns around after getting Alex settled in the plane and sees Jimmy and Cordell pulling a sled up to the plane. Luckily, the bundle of meat fits in the luggage compartment and with everyone on board, the plane takes off.
Walker turns the meat over to the Rangers, who are very grateful. Then, while C.D. and Trivette load the SUV with their gear, Walker and Alex stand with their arm's around each other, looking back up at the mountains, now completely hidden by the large dark cloud of snow.
"I think we just barely made it, darling." She leans her head against his, "I don't know what we would have done if C.D. and Jimmy hadn't insisted on looking for us."
"I don't even want to think about it." He turns and looks at the two friends, arguing with each other as they load the gear on board C.D.'s SUV. "Thank God for friends like that."
"Amen, honey, amen."