Maroon Bells
Lost on Maroon Bells Trail
by Barbara Leonhard

I.
The Maroon Bells chime,
So long, dear. May you dance
& sway with the breeze
In our floral meadows.
Do you know the edibles?
The wind ruffles my hair as I hike out.
II.
An old man limps from around a bend.
I take his course, turning right,
Not left. The path narrows,
But well-marked steps
Pin me to a destination
Down a steep hill on my behind.
               The old guy did this?
I call for my husband, who had run ahead.
III.
A clearing opens, & prior travelers
show no sense of direction.
Their prints scatter like whitetail deer
Fleeing the hungry cougar.
I call for my husband over & over
& look for his shoe size.
IV.
He runs back to check on his mate,
But the two stragglers far behind her
had surpassed her stride.
               She can outpace those guys! WTF?
Bearing a 50-pound pack,
He sprints like a mountain goat fleeing wolves
To inform rangers.
V.
Sun splinters through spots of shade.
               Where am I? Lost!
               Gone from sight!
The creek, dear! The Bell clang.
               Dizzy, I stumble. Up? Down?
I call his name again & again.
               Some prints smell of animal.
               Large cat!?
Dear, run up the hill! The hill!
VI.
Pursued by hot breath,
I scramble up a slope,
Grabbing hold of the arms of Aspens,
To an overlook of the trail.
               Help! Help!
                         Are you Barbara?
                         Your husband is looking for you!!
I am lifted out of the abyss by wind
Resounding in a chorus of bells. 

PHOTO: The Maroon Bells in the fall, at sunrise by Anton Foltin, used by permission. Note: The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, separated by about one-third of a mile. The mountains are about 12 miles southwest of Aspen, Colorado. Both peaks exceed 14,000 feet.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A few years ago, in Colorado, I became lost while hiking on the wide and well-used Maroon Bells Trail after a night of camping on Crater Lake. Fatigued, I took a wrong turn and became lost for almost two hours.

PHOTO: The author,  resting in a Maroon Bells meadow after dancing and swaying in the breeze (August 1995).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Barbara Harris Leonhard is a writer, poet, and blogger. Her work appears in Phoebe, MD: Poetry + Medicine, Well Versed 2020, Spillwords, FREE VERSE REVOLUTION, Heretics, Lovers and Madmen, Go Dog Go Café, Silver Birch Press, Amethyst Review (pending), Pillbaby.com, and Vita Brevis. She is the author of Discoveries in Academic Writing, which is based on her years of teaching English as a Second Language at the University of Missouri.