The disturbing menagerie of crooked branches crowded in around us, as we quickly shuffled through the leafy path. It was late autumn, and the ground was covered by dry leaves and small animal droppings. The wind howled around us, through us, enveloping us in its bone-chilling harshness.
As we approached the brook, I took hold of Maggie's arm and slowed her down to a near halt in boarding the crossing. It was only twenty feet long, but its rickety boards didn't inspire much confidence. Maggie clutched hard at our child beneath her coat and blankets, hammocked in her mother's arms. The wind seemed to grow to a fever pitch as we crossed, aggressively trying to knock us over into the turbulent waters below.
The others were so far ahead I could no longer see them. We'd fallen too far behind. It became clear to me that we were now on our own. Nobody would be waiting for us.
The clouds were moving in, blocking the remnants of daylight left. Darkness was draping over the valley below, as we hustled on down toward the foothills.
Maggie's legs were getting weaker. She was tired but she couldn't bear to stop. The baby was happily nestled in her arms, yet we both knew she would awake soon. We had to keep moving. I couldn't endure keeping my family from shelter for another night . With our cabin behind us torn apart by the avalanche, our only hope was to reach Parmel, still a good fifty miles away. In the meantime, a small cave or a large rock would do. Just enough to keep the cold wind off my daughter.