If you go up on Christmas Mountain, there’s a trail that will lead you to an old pair of hiking sticks. Carelessly abandoned by their owner.
And a beer.
The sticks aren’t worth anything.
Maybe sentimental value.
But you’re gonna hear GJB whine about them anyway.
It started out as a beautiful family Christmas. And it stayed beautiful. The whole way up the mountain.
It was a small group. Only four of us. I begged Lil T to come. So I wouldn’t be the only adult chaperoning three unruly boys. But she’d waited until the last minute to do her schoolwork. So it was all on me.
It was warmer than I anticipated. Not even a little bit of a breeze.
The mountain was quiet. Too quiet.
It’s almost as though the mountain were holding her breath. Anticipating what was coming.
But we journeyed on. Covered in sweat. Oblivious to the dangers.
We were quiet on the way up, too. But mostly because 1,700 feet of elevation in under a mile requires full oxygen focus. You can’t waste it on things like talking.
We got to the top well before sunset. And, as always, the mountain didn’t disappoint.
This was a long, perfect process. Watching the sun dip behind whatever mountain that is.
I might have been able to enjoy it if I hadn’t been the only one babysitting GJB and OT.
I had to use both of their full names several times.
“I heard that sigh. It was only a small jump.”
It doesn’t even matter, OT.
Can’t nobody relax around y’all.
BMW was the only one sitting quietly and behaving himself.
It was almost a relief when the sun finally set and it was time to come down off the mountain.
That relief was short lived, though.
So, you’re gonna wanna judge me for this next part.
But you weren’t there.
You don’t know.
OT and I took off through the trees over to the trail.
GJB told us to stop when we got to the steep part.
Then GJB caught up to us with BMW in tow.
And then GJB proceeded to pour the remnants of his drink out. Directly into a massive nest of yellow jackets.
Now, OT and I didn’t know that this is what was happening. As we stood on the trail in front of him.
We saw him pour the beer.
We saw him drop his sticks.
We saw him smack his leg. And heard him scream like a small child.
(This is where I start laughing)
We saw him go dancing past us down the mountain.
(I’m still laughing as I write this)
Screaming and flailing his arms like a beautiful, if not completely untrained ballerina.
(Seriously. I keep having to stop and wipe the tears from my eyes so I can see to type.)
Then I heard BMW say, “they’re still swarming” or something like that.
I stopped laughing.
And took off down the mountain with OT.
Once we were a safe distance away, and GJB had stopped dancing, we took inventory.
BMW described it as a massive swarm.
“You good, GJ?”
He would count the stings later. Seven.
So, I mean, not deadly.
Should we call Lil T?
I made this suggestion because I was no longer ok with being the only adult. I needed someone else to have culpability for whatever happened from this point.
To his credit, he sounded completely calm when he called and told her he’d just been stung.
And then he added, “I lost my favorite hiking sticks.”
BMW looked like he might try to go back for them. Because he’s a good person. And doesn’t like to see children cry.
But then he saw the massive swarm and we told him no and so we refocused on getting GJB back down the mountain as quickly as possible before his throat closed up.
That’s when we heard the coyotes. A pack of them. Not too far off in the distance.
Getting back down the mountain as quickly as possible means falling. A LOT.
About the third time GJB went down, I started to worry.
“Is all of the falling a symptom? Or is it just because you took OT’s hiking sticks from him?”
It was a genuine question.
I wasn’t trying to be a smartass.
But I fell anyway, as soon as the words left my mouth.
And then again.
And after the third time, BMW said, “But you’re falling pretty softly.”
Which I was.
Until he said that.
And then the mountain said, “Watch this.”
And pulled my legs out from under me and threw them up in the air. So I landed straight onto my back.
So that’s gonna hurt for a while.
I didn’t whine about it, though…
About a mile from the house, GJB starts whining about losing his favorite sticks. To the bees.
Which is how we knew he was not, in fact, having any kind of allergic reaction to being stung.
Lil T gave him Benadryl anyway. Once we got back to the house.
The boy told him he should get a Road ID like mine. That lists his allergy to bees.
I pointed out that mine lists a legitimate allergy. And not some bullshit made up allergy to make a situation seem more dramatic than it actually was.
GJB spent the next hour counting imaginary bee stings and begging a child to go up on the mountain in the middle of the night and take his hiking sticks back from the killer bees.
So, we’ll be hearing about this one for a while.
All I know is I refuse to be the only chaperone on the next Christmas family trip.