DAYBREAK by Julia Garcia

Images by Amber Poer

The doors open to the truck. I grab the lever in the bottom right to let me out of the backseat and step onto the gravel. The three of us walk along the path created by the footsteps of previous adventurers—Dom the leader, me in the middle, and Brandon as the caboose. We trek over one hill, through some bushes, over another hill and finally to our destination.

A permanent tent lies at the bottom of the hill covered with a blue tarp angled around a tree. Beer caps hammered in by previous campers snake up the tree, giving it flimsy coat of armor seven feet up its trunk. Memories—beautiful, yet destructive.

We wait for Amber and Nick to arrive. Brandon crosses the two-feet-deep water in search of a walking stick but finds broken glass bottles sitting under the water. With disgust all over his face, he reaches under the water to grab the broken and sharp eggshells that could easily slice someone’s foot open. Out of the water, among the garbage, the he finds the stick he was looking for.

“Where’s Amber and Nick?” I say.

“We’re here,” Amber replies to my surprise. Everyone gets up to move on to the next spot.

“Let’s go to the other end. I’ll drive,” Dom suggests.

Over one hill, through some bushes, and over another hill we move along the path—Dom, then Nick, Amber, me, and Brandon as a caboose. There’s not enough space in the truck, so Amber, Nick, and I jump in the back. The engine rumbles to a start and we begin to move. The wind takes our hair in its grasp, moving in a symphony of waves until the moment we stop and jump over the rail of the truck.

We walk over paved cement covered in the earth that took it over along with phone polls with cut wires hanging in the shadows of the trees until we reach a gaping hole of rocks. Using each other we gradually get to the other side of the hole to the path, teamwork at its finest. Dom is once again the leader and takes us down another path because there was a group of guys on the trail we were originally going to go down. He gets us lost and we hike the longest route possible. The trees filled every cranny of our eyes as the sunlight would peek behind them-playing hide and seek with us.

Finally after a half hour of lost hiking, we come to an open area near the water. It moves with a lively force. To the right, as the sunlight blinds our eyes, we see a small still pool with a ledge.

“Let’s go there,” I say about the spot catching my eye over the water. One foot at a time we walk through the water, every footstep taking us inches deeper, until it reached the level of our thighs.

We sit on the edge and take in the beauty of nature—and then Dom blurts out “I got to go home and mow my lawn! Come on guys!”

Our impatient leader Dom takes us from the serenity of the pool on to a faint path that is covered in sharp blackberry bushes that only get thicker as we move along. We march on through, praying for the truck to appear.

We make it back to the pavement, happy for the relief from nature’s frustrating claws. Amber and Nick lead holding each other’s hands as Brandon and I follow—his arm wrapped around my shoulder.