Altitude Sickness, Column

Off to walk 104 miles, reflecting on loud noise

I am about to leave for my hike. I don’t know why I am unable to sleep on the night before something like this, but I dragged myself to bed dead tired and then lay awake for an hour, finally getting up to do all of my pre-exit tasks last night instead of this morning. I was up vacuuming the house until 1:30 a.m. Unpleasant.
A few days ago when I was telling one of my solar customers about my trip, he offered to let me take his 30.06 with me. I declined. I have shot before, and I’m actually pretty good at it for a guy with no dominant eye, especially if I am lying prone. I have an uncommonly low heart rate (when I am really well trained my resting heart rate can be in the mid-30s), and so it is easy to shoot between heartbeats.
The thing is, though, I have always been easily startled by loud noises like gunfire or something being dropped.
I think that the reason for this may have occurred in the spring of 1979 in Taunton, Mass. A friend of mine (my second childhood friend) had come up to Vermont to visit us (we had moved to Randolph, Vt., from Taunton a year before), and in bringing him home, my mother and I spent a few days with the family of my first childhood friend, Karl Dietzler (“Kaahl Deetslah” in the Taunton vernacular). While our mothers were visiting (we all remain good friends to this day), “Kaahl” and I went down to explore along the Taunton River, an oak-leaf-stained, tea-colored, brackish affair that dumped unceremoniousy into the ocean near Providence (“Proavidance”), R.I.
After some exploring we came around a hummock to find a group of guys gathered around a waist-high rock, intent upon something that was on the rock.
Before anything could really happen except for four or five of us looking surprised, one of them whipped around and started yelling words that I do not remember. This would have been less memorable but for one factor.
That factor is that this fellow, as he spun around yelling, emptied a gun at us.
I don’t remember what kind of gun it was, and I don’t know if he was aiming at us or not, but based on the number of shots that stick in my memory, it had to be a revolver of some kind, probably a snub nose.
As we ran away, bullets hit the ground off to one side. Nothing hit us, and we hauled some serious ass, running until we got to Karl’s back yard (“back yaahd”), which was probably the longest and fastest I had ever run in my life, being a child with crippling asthma.
The interesting part about it is, that Karl and I never spoke about this incident, even then. We went right inside and sat in the kitchen and ate. We didn’t even talk about it until Karl came to visit us in Randolph when we were 27 years old. The conversation went like this:
“Hey, do you remember that time I visited you when we were nine?”
“Do you remember being shot at?”
“Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. I was wondering if I had made that up.”
Then we never talked about it again.
Now I’m off to walk 104 miles.
Brady Crain is a amature athlete who writes about his adventures through training.

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