Home > Rowe (Primal #1)

Rowe (Primal #1)
Author: Dylan Page

 


Chapter One

 

 

June 29th, 1973

Dear Mom and Dad,

 

The girls and I are ready for our big kayaking trip! We leave July 5th, and we’ll be done by the 9th. So hopefully, you’ll get my letter before I make it home, all stinky and unwashed from our four-day adventure. We did a training class at the University on how to use our kayaks, which we rented from the sports facility, and I’m feeling pretty confident. I actually really like it. If I can save up enough money, I’ll definitely consider investing in one.

 

I’ve packed up enough food, my camping gear, water, and all my safety supplies for this trip, so no fretting, Mom! I’m set to face off a bear should it come to that (just kidding, don’t have a heart attack). I’m really excited for this trip, and I’m bringing my polaroid camera to take pictures that I can send with my next letter.

 

I hope you and Dad are doing okay. Please go out or something on the weekends. Go to the lake! Bring your camera! When was the last time you indulged in your old hobby, right? Just get out and enjoy the summer. Tell Dad he’s got to use his vacation, eventually. He works too hard. And please go visit Aunt Liz. I know you miss your sister. Go for a shopping trip or something. Get out of the house.

 

Anyways, I’ll stop bossing you both around now. Just know that I love you both and I’ll call when I get back from my trip.

 

Lots of Love,

Kate

 

Today was the big day! I’d gotten up early to drive out and meet my friends at a new section of the national park. Lisa was the only one with a pickup and was therefore responsible for our kayaks, while Jen stopped by to get Stephanie on the way, seeing as they lived closer. I double-checked all my gear several times, looked at the weather projection for the week in the morning’s paper, left a note for my roommates so they’d know when I’d return, and I was off.

Driving out of the city along the winding road that led into the western wilderness of the country was thrilling. The sky was a myriad of pinks, purples, and oranges as the sun started to rise slowly, most of its light blocked out by the sudden influx of rolling, tree-covered hills that only grew larger the farther north I drove. After an hour of singing along to Janis on the radio, I started coming across signs signaling that I was now entering the national park. I slowed as I quickly checked the map I’d marked one last time, following the pencil-drawn directions on the paper carefully before discarding it in the passenger seat.

The turn-off was easy to miss, and if Jen hadn’t made a note on the edge of my map to look for the boulder that had been painted yellow, I would have missed it. The dirt road was shrouded by trees and turned in a tight bend down the hillside, the looming trees overhead making me feel like I was entering another world. I could feel my nerves jumping with excitement, especially when I broke through a clearing, catching sight of the others waiting for me by their cars. I waved as I pulled up alongside and parked, the area empty save for us.

“Hey, gorgeous!” Jen beamed as I stepped out. “Ready to get your sexy tush in the water?”

“If by in the water, you mean in the kayak in the water, then yes.” I opened my trunk and started gathering my stuff together. I’d dressed in layers, as the morning was a little chilly, but I knew it would warm up fast as the day went on. I wore a pair of high-rise jeans and a black Led Zeppelin t-shirt underneath a wool sweater. My strawberry blonde hair I’d parted down the middle, my draping bangs loose to frame my face, was tied back with a blue ribbon to keep it out of the way. I changed out of my sneakers, packed them away in my backpack, and pulled out my hiking boots, quickly tying the red laces before locking up my little Volkswagen. I carefully stowed my key in a small zip pocket on my pack and hurried over to help Lisa unload the kayaks.

We were the only ones there that morning. I guess Jen’s proclamation about the park being closed off until next week was valid. I’m not surprised she managed to persuade the rangers to give us the special privilege of being the first to explore the newly established trail. Jen was relentless and usually got what she wanted. I also suspected she might have let one get a look at her hoo-ha’s or something as an extra incentive, but I knew better than to ask. The answer was, most likely, yes.

As I set up my red kayak on the shoreside, I looked around, listening to the early morning birds as they sang in the treetops, the sound of the rushing water, and drank in the sights of nature that swallowed us up. The trees stretched up to the sky, their leaves fluttering on the cool, early morning breeze. Not a hint of dogs barking, people shouting, or the rumbling of cars’ engines could be heard. Perfect. Although I could hear the other three talking about something to do with the lifejackets, I was too busy savouring this moment.

“Okay, so I’ll keep hold of the map and lead us down the river,” Jen announced, joining me on the shore next to her yellow kayak. “There’s a couple of turn-offs we need to avoid, so stay in line, and if you need to catch my attention, blow on these.” She reached into her pocket, pulled out three shiny silver whistles, and handed them out to us. I slipped mine around my neck before I remembered my camera.

“Hey, guys!” I beckoned them over. “Let’s get a picture of us before we set out.”

“There’s no one here to take our picture, dummy,” Jen said, her hands on her hips.

I stuck my tongue out at her. “Obviously. But I’ll just turn it around and try to center us as best I can.”

“That’s stupid. It’ll be too close.”

“God, Jen, just roll with it.” I sighed, pulling out the camera. Lisa joined me on my other side, using her fingers to brush out her fro, while Stephanie snuck in front of us, standing below my chin, and straightened her glasses. Jen sighed heavily, like this was a waste of time, but leaned in, flashing a peace sign. “One, two, three… cheese!” I called before doing my best to hold my hand steady and snapped a shot of us with the river at our backs. The camera whirred away, the small polaroid spitting out a cloudy film after a few seconds. I took it and waved it in the air to help it dry quicker.

“Okay, enough of that nonsense. Now,” Jen said, pulling out the map to study it one last time. “We’re gonna be going hard till this point,” she said, her finger tapping at a spot on the map titled White Rock Outcrop. “We can rest and take a snack break there.” I glanced at the map for only a brief moment before turning away, still shaking the picture around while making sure all my stuff was stowed safely away in my kayak. “After that, we need to stay right and avoid these two turnoffs,” she added, pointing them out. “We’ll push hard again for another three hours and break at this point.” She tapped another spot before moving it down the blue line that was our route, titled The Three Hangman River.

That’s a rather foreboding name, I thought. My good mood started to ebb away the longer I studied the path we were taking. It looked like it was leading us right into the hills where… I swear that area wasn’t listed as a section of the park where visitors could go? But then again, Jen said it was new. Maybe this map was out of date? And the hills are a massive expanse of wilderness that’s essentially untouched by people.

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