The fluid emerged a sickly yellow color, mixing with a bit of blood. It looked terrible, but the pain abated soon afterward. The man reached for the super glue in his first aid kit. There was no other way to fix his feet in time to climb. He had to be able to gain respect among the Ibex climbers, and he was in no mood to slip super-tight rock shoes on over open wounds.
How many miles had he come since the jeep died? The GPS said 15. The man was alone, but still embarrassed. The trek had been strenuous, and he was exhausted--after only 15 miles. The gear, he told himself, it’s heavier than usual. One man didn’t normally carry so much ordinance. This march reminded him of the recon indoc in the Marines. Back then he had almost given up during the last event that secured him a spot in Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance. It had been miserable. Miles of hiking with a heavy load, after swimming a couple of kilometers, doing endless calisthenics, and doing a standard USMC fitness test followed by an obstacle course. But the motivation had been there. He made it because it was his dream and he hadn’t been injured. Now he wondered whether he had the necessary motivation. Was the target worth acquiring? Yes, plus this was not that hard. But then the rain had begun. For two days he had slogged through several inches of mud, eventually looking for plants to step on just for something harder underfoot, regardless of the awkwardness.
His GPS told him that the Tule Valley was the next valley beyond the hills he was facing—less than a mile away.