When Ashley was a young girl, she loved exploring nature. She walked in the woods, played in the streams, and built imaginary playhouses out of old logs and pieces of glass that she found in the woods behind her grandmother’s house.

In those days there were no local swimming pools, so her family went swimming in Dutchman’s Creek or some other nice creeks in their area. One of their favorite spots was out in the country in a place known as the Old Mountain place, which was part of her great-grandfather’s property. It consisted of several hundred acres of land mostly unsettled except for a house here and there. The creek at the bridge was just right for good swimming right after a rain shower.

One weekend Ashley and her parents, grandparents, and a good friend of hers took a picnic lunch and spent the day beside the creek. Ashley and Brook played in the water on old tire tubes and then decided to go exploring in the nearby woods. As they were climbing up a hill, they suddenly fell inside of a hole in the ground. They were petrified!

cave-64932_1920“How are we going to get out of here?” Brook cried.

“I don’t know,” Ashley whispered, “but we’ll find a way.”

They soon realized that the hole led to an underground tunnel, which they had no choice but to follow. Inside the tunnel were roots, leaves, rocks and all kinds of bugs. Both girls screamed when a frog jumped out in front of them. Of course, their biggest fear was that they might see a snake! Luckily, both were Girl Scouts and had some training and experience in outdoor survive. For what seemed like hours they moved slowly through the tunnel in almost total darkness. The girls were hungry, thirsty, and tired. Suddenly, they came into a fairly large area that had obviously been cleared out by people at some point. In the wall and on the ground they saw what appeared to be shiny rocks, so they picked up some of them and put them in their pockets to show to their parents.

After a while, the girls heard voices hollering for them. It was Ashley’s dad and grandfather! Her grandfather had remembered hearing about the Old Calahaln Mountain gold mine where he had played years earlier and had searched for the old mine not too far from the creek. He and her dad dropped some large vines down into the mine, and the girls were able to climb out. When her grandfather saw the gold the girls had, he cried, “Pomp (his own grandfather) was right all along!”

CLICK HERE to read more poems and stories by Linda Barnette.

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