Regina hadn’t exaggerated. The steep incline of the final leg of the trail was a series of stone steps, and Jorja silently gave thanks for those stones. It was straight up, and had she been on a dirt path with loose rock or roots, she wasn’t so sure she’d have made the climb.
As they reached Cob Cave, Regina threw down the backpack and reached for the water.
“Time to rest a minute, it gets even steeper from here.”
Jorja was a good twenty feet behind, and gasping for air when she reached Regina.
“Dear Jesus, I don’t remember it being this difficult. Are you sure this is the trail of our youth? I think they’ve made it longer and steeper since then.”
“Yeah, right. They haven’t done anything to the trail, it’s the years and the smoking that’s hindering you. I thought you hiked in D.C. – not quite the same, uh?”
“No, not quite. Alright, I’m a wuss…I give...
Regina smiled, and offered Jorja the water.
“We can rest a little. We’re right here at Cob Cave, and we’re not on a schedule. Let’s just sit and chat for a little while, let you catch your wind.”
“Good gracious, I should be the one in great shape, I’ve spent years in the military, you’ve spent years as a mom and housewife, this is ridiculous!”
Something about Jorja’s words struck a chord in Regina. Her face turned a bright crimson.
“Now just what do you mean by that? Housewives aren’t as healthy as career military women?
“No, I just meant that I’ve been through PT drills and all sorts of physical strength testing, you haven’t. Looks like I wouldn’t be so pathetically give out from a simple hike.”
“I’ve been hiking these mountains all the years you’ve been gone – I never quit hiking and walking – and running after kids will do a lot to keep you in shape.”
Jorja sensed that something about the conversation was not headed in the right direction, or with the right tone.
How did this become laced with an undercurrent?
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