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Get on Your Behind and Slide

Story ID:2502
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
Year:2005
Person:Catskill Mountains
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Get on Your Behind and Slide

Get on Your Behind and Slide

Get on Your Behind and Slide

Get on Your Behind and Slide

Ginny and I took my daughter, Vanessa, to see the Kaaterskill Falls, in the
Catskill Mountains of New York State. The falls are one hundred and twenty miles
north of our home in New Jersey.
We parked the car in the small lot and followed the narrow shoulder of the
mountain road, which snaked down the side of the mountain. Cars passed dangerously
close, as we made our way to the base of a cool mountain stream. A sign announced
“Falls - 0.5 Miles.”
The trail was well worn by the feet of those who’d made the trek before us.
On the steep parts, we grabbed trees for support. Ginny, who suffered from a cold,
took a break. She stretched out on a rock, “Mike, I don’t know if I can make it.”
Vanessa and I sat beside her. “It’s OK, Gin.” I held her hand. A family passed us.
The trail grew quiet. “Gin, do you hear it?”
She sat up. “What?”
“Listen! I think I hear the falls. It can’t be too far away!”
“Michael, I’m not sure I can make it.”
“I’ll help you.” I pleaded.

*************************

A half hour later, we stood panting at the base of Kaaterskill Falls, the highest
two-tiered waterfall in New York state. Two hundred and sixty feet above us, a stream
of water slipped over the edge of a cliff, tumbled one hundred and eighty feet onto a
shelf in the cliff, formed a pool and then dropped another eighty feet to the base of the
falls. “Michael!” Ginny held my hand. “It’s breathtaking! I’m so glad I made it.”
“Dad, this is amazing!” Vanessa said in awe.
Several people climbed the side of the mountain, walked along the edge and
stood at the side of the pool on the ledge eighty feet above us. “Dad, that looks like fun.
Let’s try it! I want to see the pool.”
Ginny waited at the base of the falls. Vanessa and I began to climb. The higher we
went, the steeper the side of the mountain became. We climbed with the face of the
mountain a few feet in front of us. The loose soil, covered in pine needles, rolled like
marbles under our feet. With the help of tree branches and bushes, we made our way
close to the top, where we paused for breath.
“Dad, I don’t think I can make it to the top.” My daughter panted. Sweat ran
down her forehead and into her eyes.
I looked up and wiped my own sweat from my face. We were close to the top, but
the last few feet were steep and free of trees and brush for support. I gave in. “You’re
right.” I paused to catch my breath. “Let’s go back.”
We started down the mountain. I held a tree. “Vanessa, this is scary!” On the
way up, the side of the mountain was in our face. On the way down, it sloped away
from our feet. Our point of reference was distorted. We were unsteady on our feet.
Holding on to each other, trees, brush, and anything else we could grasp, we
slowly worked our way down the path we chose. If the mountain was too steep, we sat
on our behinds and slid or crawled like crabs.

*************************

I held Ginny’s hand, looked up the mountain, and wiped dirt from my pants. Our
decision to climb the mountain seemed like a great idea, but we soon realized we’d made
a mistake.
We make decisions. Most are right for us, but there are times when they’re wrong.
It’s not easy to change our minds or correct our past actions. Like the branches and
bushes I held onto, we have family and friends. When they offer support, grab onto them.
They’ll support you.
If all else fails, get on your behind and slide.