Pam stopped concentrating on drawing fresh, cool air into her lungs. The forest shaded the path now and the drop in temperature gave the mountain air an edge her brain told her she should find unpleasant and her lungs told her was wonderful.
She kept moving up the once rutted path the faded map at the way station marked with a black blaze. Not quite the double diamond of the state’s ski slopes but this was not a trek for beginners. Lactic acid burned Pam’s calves and the backs of her thighs as the grade grew steeper.
Patches of sunlight, like spots on a Broadway stage, burned through the trees’ canopy calling attention to a rock here or a termite eaten branch there. Pam felt her lungs heave with the effort, felt the weight of the tumor so deep her doctors hadn’t even wanted to try to get it out. She knew this was the last time she would ever breathe the knife sharp mountain air.