Erin tried gently to pull me off the trail. It curved to the right; she wanted to go left. “Let’s go this way, Gary.”
The heavy overcast made it dark for late morning, but I’d have seen another path if it were really there.
We appeared to have the wilderness to ourselves for miles around, including the trail into the parched foothills, to what I thought was our destination. We’d hidden my scooter just in case, so no one would see it from the road, the trail, or the little parking lot.
“This is a perfectly good gravel path,” I said. “We’ll be less likely to meet snakes and other deadly things, if we stay on it.”
She smiled patiently. “Why is that?”
“Because things with claws, fangs, or big teeth know the humans use this path, so they probably avoid it. Unless there’s a bear waiting to steal our picnic basket.”
“I’m not sure it works that way.” She stared at the path, and her face darkened. “I don’t like this path. Too violent.”
I cocked my head and stared at her. “Too violent?”
“Look at all the little gravel,” she said. “You think it got that way on its own?”
“Got what way?” I rumbled. I loved her, weird thoughts and all, but today I was in no mood for crazy.
“All broken up, with sharp corners and rough edges. Imagine the violence required to turn ordinary rocks into this, so they can make a path out of it.”
I’d once heard a rock crusher at fairly close range. The sound was horrific, but it wasn’t from rocks screaming in agony or in fear of a painful death. You had to live to die.
“Besides, this path doesn’t go where we’re going,” she added, almost as an afterthought.
We set off across the reddish ground, through the grayish sagebrush, toward a gap in the brownish foothills.