Me, Ellen, Bernie
The week after our trip to the lake dad drove mom and Phillip and me to Yosemite. I got to take Bernie Janzen and Ellen Schauer too. Dad left us there for ten days and went back to the valley to take care of the peaches.
Bernie, Ellen, and I would take long walks exploring Yosemite, spend hours talking and giggling in the tent, and hike up river over and over again to float back down to our camp on air mattresses. At times, and in certain places, the river was rough but the route we were using was slow and gentle. There was an occasional dip we didn't expect or a branch reaching out from shore to snag us but we traveled the same route so many times we had it memorized and were confident of our safety.
On one of our trips downstream Bernie and I got separated from Ellen. When we got back to camp Ellen wasn’t there. We searched and searched. We called her name over and over as we ran along the river’s edge in the direction she should have been. We decided we’d better not tell my mom until we found Ellen, hopefully she’d be so glad she was alright she couldn’t be mad at us. We continued searching.
I panicked. I started thinking of how I would tell my mom that Ellen had drowned. I knew she wasn’t a good swimmer. Mom had told me to keep an eye on Ellen so I knew her drowning was going to be my fault! I jumped to the conclusion that she must be tangled up under water somewhere dead! I remember the hot feeling of panic as it filled by stomach and exploded onto my face. At first we hunted and called quietly but the more scared we got the louder we got. Pretty soon everyone heard us screaming. Folks came from all the campsites to help us look. Bernie and I were both crying. We just wanted to find Ellen.
After what seemed like a very long time we decided, with the help of a nice lady who’d been searching with us, we needed to tell mom what had happened. As we got close to our camp we saw Ellen sitting by the campfire talking with mom. I was relieved and mad at the same time.
We could hear Ellen telling mom how she had made her way down the river but passed our camp and had to walk back. She’d gotten out fine, and was sitting with mom laughing and making Smores over the fire. Mom and Ellen were wondering where Bernie and I were! They didn’t know we’d been frantically looking for her. They didn’t know we’d been scared to tears. They were sitting there laughing and relaxing and having an afternoon snack!
Bernie and I quietly left without being seen and went back to the nice lady who’d been helping us search. We explained to her what had happened and thanked her for helping us. The rest of the trip I was afraid she’d come to our camp and tell mom what had happened. She didn’t and the summer continued being one of the best I ever had.