Trish reined Yedi back to the gulley. If the valley had changed, odds were so had the gulley. It wouldn't wash out at the same place. She either had to climb down where she could see the hat or hope to find a better way. She dismounted, daring to get closer to the edge on foot than on horseback.
She easily located her hat again. She would most definitely need it to keep the sun off, and what if the weather turned nasty? It could be said that Idaho's weather was the most unpredictable in the world, or at least the states. Besides, that hat was given to her by Grammy. Now she needed to find a way to get to it. She scanned the gulley, trying to determine the best route. She shook her head, there would be no easy way down and the way out would most likely prove even more difficult.
Vance would tease her about having to chase her hat. Cousins, especially Trish's younger cousins, like Vance, could be a pain in her backside. Setting her teeth against formidable odds, she started down the steep wall of the gulley. Whenever possible, she kicked at the soil in an effort to leave foot holds for climbing out again. Things went well until the walls narrowed and the ground grew muddy. One wrong step could mean a broken leg or worse. With nothing to grasp hold of, nothing to break her fall, she lost her footing and slipped, her momentum no longer under control. She tumbled and bounced from one wall to the other.
She screamed. Her shoulder smashed against a jutting rock sending her into an awkward somersault. Her body came to an abrupt stop, knocking the wind out of her.
She carefully rolled one shoulder and then the other, fearing something might be broken. She seemed fine so far. Her hat lay three feet away. She reached for it. A sharp, stabbing pain warned her to drop her arm.
You've got to be kidding! No hat is worth this.
"Okay, right arm hurts," she said aloud. "Stand?"
Putting her weight under her was far more difficult than she expected. The soil was more mud than solid. She stood. Slipped. She tried again only to find her feet pinched into the narrow V where the mud sucked at her boots.
"At least I'm closer to my hat."
She snatched it with her left hand and stuffed it firmly on her head. "Now, one, two, three. Go." Her scrambling slips and slides netted an inglorious turnaround. She looked up at the edge of the gulley in disgust. It proved more narrow and deep than she had thought. She sagged against the wall, letting the cool mud stick to her lime green shirt. She took a deep breath and with renewed determination scrambled in the direction from which she had come. She clenched the fingers of her right hand. Her arm didn't appear bruised but it definitely hurt. With clamoring hands and feet, she only managed to make the gulley closest to her slicker. She slid further from her goal.
"I'm going to get out of here," she muttered through clenched teeth. The breeze overhead seemed to laugh at her determination. She made a fist and squeezed the mud through her fingers. Tightening every muscle in her body, she screamed. "Damn it!"
Anger at her own stupidity cinched her realization; she was trapped like a lone maverick. She should have known better. Stupid. Would she spend her whole adventure stuck in the bottom of this gulley?