The Light Behind the World
Chapter 3: Dawn
Copyright© 2010 by Sea-Life
We left early, and were aboard and under sail by 7 am. We spun the sail out running west and south for a few minutes getting our lines set, and then dad turned us north, heading for the north finger of New Melones Lake. The mid-summer sun was high enough in the sky to keep the breeze from seeming chilly, but as we headed deeper into the northern cut we would pass through the shade of the mountains to the east. We were in the heart of the Sierra Madres after all, and the altitude, the frequent shade and the nice speed of the little 17' O'Day Daysailer III kept us in our jackets the entire run up the lake. I loved this little boat.
"I love this little boat" I yelled at dad over the sounds of the water and the wind in the sails.
"I know son, she's a good little boat for this lake." Dad hollered back, a big, wind-aided grin on his face.
"You can run her back tommorrow", he added, "when the sun's higher and we've got less shadows on the water."
"Awesome!" I grinned back. I had every intention of laying claim to this boat someday. But Dad always confessed that Saltwater sailing was what he missed, and the beautiful boat he'd sailed as a teenager with his Uncle Ambrose on Chocowinity Bay. I knew that boat was his to claim if he ever managed to reconcile with Grandpa McKesson.
We dropped sail at the head of the last little fork in the north finger, where a large rock face and rubble field dropped to the water's edge. We were in the wind shadow now of the mountains, and the tricky breezes made it hard to sail at slow speeds, so we slid slowly into the Eastern finger on momentum, and finally a little encouragement from the trolling kicker. There was a shallow little beach there, with dense scrub covering an ugly looking rocky slope that slowly transformed into a solid rock face as it continued towards the east. We stored the sail, got the deck gear squared away and dropped the stern anchor, letting it drag a little as we pulled right up to the beach. I hopped ashore and Dad quickly handed me our packs along with my kit, and the he hopped ashore with me. We pushed the boat back out into the deeper water, and once it was were Dad thought it needed to be he pulled the hard line to the bow anchor. It dropped into the bay, pulling the anchor chain and the spring line with it, and we tied that off securely to a small tree near the waterline. While we were stowing our deck shoes and putting on our hiking shoes, we watched the boat, making sure it was finding a stable anchorage.
"Okay Davey, that was just transportation." Dad said to me as I shouldered my pack. "The actual adventure begins now. Are you ready?"
"I'm ready." I replied, looking up the slope in front of us. "Lead on, oh Fearless Leader!"
"At once my Able Assistant!" Dad answered back.
Another important McKesson family ritual completed, at least one important to this branch of the family, it was now safe, at least as safe as anyplace in the universe where the reach of Murphy and his Law was known to be enforced. We had done our best to assuage Murphy and those other minor deities who watched over the adventuring teams of Fathers and Sons everywhere.
We started out East and up slightly, picking our way over the rubble field, and around the sparse scrub that grew amongst it, until finally a couple hundred yards from the beach we hit a little gully, only a small wrinkle in the hillside caused by water runoff, and we followed that gully up the hill only a few yards before Dad looked back. "Here we go Davey, watch me and see if you can make it on your own." and with that he stepped into the gap between a particularly large boulder that stuck out of the cliff face, and the wall that sloped slightly up and away from it. Once in the crack, he planted one foot on the cliff, one on the boulder, and did three or four quick steps, chimney walking up the gap until he was standing on top of the boulder. I stared briefly, letting what I'd just seen register fully. "Catch!", I hollered up, and hefted the tool bag up to the top of the boulder. Dad caught it at his feet, and watched as I repeated his feat, with considerably more effort, until I stood beside him atop the boulder.