Colorado high-school students, Jake and Patrick, are snowboarding fanatics. When Patrick takes Jake on his first heli-boarding trip, it triggers a wild adventure over the untouched snow, which almost gets the boys killed. On the brink of falling over a cliff's edge, they are rescued by two dogs, owned by a mysterious young boy, in tattered clothing, who disappears as quickly as he arrives.
Back at the base of the mountain, the boys learn that there has been a series of break0ins at the parking lot. Someone is shattering car windows and stealing everything inside. Distracted by a surprise party, Jake and Patrick soon forget about the strange mountain boy, but it's not long before these two boarding enthusiast stumble upon what might be a criminal's lair.
Their lives are in danger, but knowing the mountain as well as they do, Jake and Patrick might be the town's only hope of catching a dangerous thief. Under the threat id avalanche and blizzard, they follow the clues-clues that cloud lead them to the strange boy and his dogs, or worse, lead them right into the clutches of a giant mountain man.
"You can do it!" Patrick yelled back.
"That's easy for you to say!" Patrick had been skiing and snowboarding since he was three years old and competing since he was twelve. Jake was a beginner by comparison.
"Not that different from the back bowls," Patrick insisted. When Jake pointed at the distance between the copter and the snow, Patrick shrugged.
"Just close your eyes and jump!" Patrick gave Jake a friendly push out the helicopter door, and followed him almost immediately.
Jakes 6'2", lean body, landed in waist deep powder. His short black hair was hidden under his black helmet. Patrick's shorter muscular frame landed near Jake. His short blonde curls were peeking out from under his orange helmet. With a yell, Jake followed Patrick. As they cut their way down the mountain, Jake decided Patrick was right. There was nothing in the world better than cutting fresh tracks in the snow. Free like a bird. Just like Patrick had said. What an incredible feeling!
"Whoooh!" yelled Jake as he cut back and forth across the powder. "You are right. This is incredible!" Jake relaxed as he focused on the powder in front of him. He was stoked to be in such a beautiful place. The contrast between the bright blue sky and the crisp white snow was striking. And the silence was very peaceful. The only sound was the sound of the two snowboards cutting through the snow with ease. I wonder if heaven is this beautiful. Jake came back sharply from his thoughts and caught his breath as he saw Patrick up ahead. Patrick was rapidly approaching a large pile of rocks and he didn't seem to be trying to avoid it. Jake slowed and watched as his best friend flew up over the snowy side of the rocks. Patrick went airborne for what seemed like hours to Jake.
Jake watched Patrick grab his board, flip, twist and stomp the landing. That must be the new trick that he told me about. Jake laughed and shook his head at his friend showing off. Jake knew Patrick was good, but he didn't know he was that good. Jake had no intention of doing any tricks. His focus was just on getting down the mountain safely. Jake had promised his mom he wouldn't do anything crazy, when he had begged her for permission to go heli-boarding.
"Yeah! This is sick!" yelled Patrick. "Catch air on the next rocks Jake!"
Jake was gaining quite a bit of speed as he approached the next rock outcropping. Can I do it? Can I fly through the air like Patrick? He was confident in his snowboarding abilities, but this was something totally different. He knew that his helmet could only do so much to protect his head. I'm not going to fall on the rocks, am I? Suddenly Jake knew he could do it. He had jumped over smaller rocks many times. He had done plenty of jumps, flips, and twists in the jump park. He knew what to do. Jake just had to see himself making it over the rocks and he would do just fine." Watch this," he yelled to Patrick.
Patrick stopped and watched his friend go straight for the rocks. His mouth opened with surprise, as Jake flew up over the rocks, did a simple toe grab, and landed easily. Both boys cheered with excitement. This was paradise.
Patrick and Jake would both snowboard everyday if they could. Patrick came pretty close to it. He had practically grown up in the mountains. He saved his money every year so he could buy a season pass to ski in the mountains of Colorado. Whenever possible, Patrick rushed from school straight to the slopes to get a run in before the lifts closed.
Jake, on the other hand, had only lived in Vail for three years. His family moved from Highlands Ranch, CO, when his parents decided to escape from the high-tech industry and start their own ski and bike shop. Jake was in 7th grade when they moved. He wasn't excited about the move at first, but he had always loved the mountains and liked the idea of being able to ski every weekend in the winter. Jake was a 16 year old sophomore in high school now, and was very involved in extracurricular activities. He played on the football, basketball, and baseball teams. He was also very active with the youth group at church. Therefore, he didn't get to the slopes very often during the week. But he rarely missed a weekend of snowboarding.
The boys continued to carve the mountain at lightening speed. They zipped back and forth and darted around trees. There were a lot of tall, beautiful pine trees on this side of the mountain. Every now and then the pine trees were divided by a group of Aspen swaying in the breeze. The fresh powder was spraying up above the boys' heads. Whenever possible, they went off a jump and caught air.
After awhile, the boys decided to take a break and eat lunch. "I see some big, flat rocks up ahead," said Jake. "This looks like a good spot for lunch."
"What did you pack for lunch?" asked Patrick.
"A ham sandwich and cookies, along with the apple and carrots that my mom tried to sneak in my lunch bag when I wasn't looking," replied Jake. "What about you? Did you bring anything I might want to trade you for?"
"I pretty much brought the same as you. And I also managed to snag a couple of my mom's brownies," Patrick said with a smile. "I thought that they might interest you."
"Interest me?" cried Jake. "Your mom's brownies are my favorite dessert in the world! I'll trade you my whole lunch for one of your mom's brownies!"
"How about you just give me one of your cookies and I will give you one of my brownies," replied Patrick.
"That's a deal dude," Jake said as he pulled his food out of his backpack.
It didn't take long for the boys to finish their lunch. They had really worked up an appetite snowboarding. After lunch, Jake and Patrick both decided to lie back on the rocks and rest for a little while. While they were lying there with their eyes closed, they heard a loud noise that made them both sit up and look around.
"What was that?" asked Jake.
"I don't know," replied Patrick." I don't think it was an animal. But yet, it didn't really sound like a person either."
"Let's check it out," said Jake. "I think the sound came from over there." Jake pointed to the edge of a heavily wooded area and began to walk over to it. Patrick followed closely. As they got to the edge of the trees, they saw some tracks in the snow.
"That's strange," said Patrick as he looked around for more tracks. "This looks like someone dragged something pretty heavy through here. I've been up here many times without ever seeing another human being. What could they possibly be dragging?"
"And why would they drag it up hill?" asked Jake. "It looks like it was heavy. That would be a lot of work to drag something that heavy uphill. Where could they possibly be going with it?"
"I don't know," responded Patrick. "But we are about to find out. Let's follow the tracks."
The boys quickly ran back to get their backpacks and snowboards. What they didn't realize was that they weren't alone.
"It's starting to get dark under these trees," commented Jake. "It must be clouding up. I didn't think the clouds were supposed to move in until later tonight."
"I hope it holds off long enough for us to hike this trail and then snowboard back down to the car," said Patrick with a frown. "I've been caught up in a snow storm up here before, and I really don't care to do it again any time soon."
"We especially don't want to get caught up here today! We really need to get back for Aaron's birthday celebration. It is a surprise party and Rachel said we have to get there before Aaron arrives. She and Maddie are working hard on setting up the party at our house. She won't let me hear the end of it if we are late."
"Speaking of your little sister ... I heard that Rachel took first place in the Boardercross competition last weekend. That's incredible!" said Patrick.
"I am always amazed at how well she does, with so little practice time on her snowboard. Her basketball team practices almost every day this time of year. Friday night she was the high scorer in her basketball game, and then Saturday she won her Boardercross competition. The girl is a gifted athlete," said Jake with admiration
The boys continued to hike in silence for a while. Suddenly the trail opened up to a large clearing. Jake and Patrick stopped to look around. The view was spectacular. They could see out over the valley and several other mountaintops. They could see a nearby ski resort. The skiers looked like small dots zigzagging back and forth as they zoomed down the runs. The lifts looked like distant telephone poles and wires. Over on the next peak, the boys could see a herd of big horn sheep as they grazed on the side of the mountain.
"Wow, what a view!" exclaimed Patrick. "We can see for miles!"
"The view is awesome," agreed Jake." Wow, look at the dark clouds forming over there! It looks like a serious snow storm is heading our way. We need to get down the mountain and fast!"
"You're right, those clouds look pretty bad. I say we forget this trail and get out of here while we can still see to find our way down the mountain," said Patrick with a serious look on his face.
"I'm with you on that dude," agreed Jake. "But let's come back here tomorrow to check out this trail. I really want to know where it leads to, and what is being pulled up the mountain. It just seems pretty odd to me."
"That's a deal," said Patrick
"Whoa!" yelled Jake as his foot slipped out from under him. He fell onto his back and started to slide down the side of the mountain. Jake tried to reach out and grab a tree as he began to slide, but instead of a tree, he got Patrick's leg. So they both went sliding rapidly down the mountain. As they slid through the clearing, Jake realized that they were gaining speed. Somehow they needed to slow down before they made it all of the way to the next group of trees. He really didn't feel like breaking a bone on a tree trunk. At least we have our helmets on, he thought as his mind raced trying to come up with an idea on how to slow them both down. Just then two Golden Retrievers came from out of nowhere. One grabbed Jake's arm and the other grabbed Patrick's leg. The dogs tried to plant their feet and stop the boys' slide. The dogs slid with them for a few feet, before they slowed down enough that the boys were able to stop themselves. Once their mission was completed, the dogs let go of the boys and licked their faces. Jake and Patrick began to laugh as they pet the friendly dogs.
"Thanks doggie," said Jake. "Patrick, did you see where these guys came from?"
"No! I was surprised when this guy grabbed my leg. I'm not going to complain though. They probably saved us from a serious injury."
While Jake and Patrick were still petting and talking to the dogs, a boy suddenly appeared at the edge of the clearing. The boy looked like he was about 14 years old. He was wearing a tattered black shirt under a worn ski jacket, and faded jeans with several holes in them. The jeans were a little too big for him, so he had a belt cinched around his waist to hold them up. The boy had black, shoulder length hair. "Carmel, Wylie, come here girls. Let's go!" the boy said with a stern voice. When the dogs didn't respond immediately, the boy almost barked, "Come!" The dogs responded to the command and ran to him. As soon as the dogs were at his side, the boy began to walk back into the woods.
"Wait!" yelled Patrick. "We just want to thank you." But the boy was already out of their sight. Patrick and Jake tried to run up the hill to where they last saw the younger boy. But it was a steep slope, and they were a little shaken up from the fall, so their legs weren't moving very quickly. The boys both felt like they were trying to run in waist deep water. They tried so hard to move quickly, but they might as well be crawling. By the time they got to the edge of the clearing, the mysterious boy and his dogs were nowhere to be seen. They had vanished as mysteriously as they had appeared.
"Nobody would believe this story, if I didn't have you as a witness," stated Patrick.
"Isn't that the truth? I am a witness, but yet I'm not sure if I even believe it," replied Jake. "There is no denying the fact that the dogs stopped our fall. I even have the holes in my jacket to prove it. This whole day is starting to seem pretty strange—an unexplained trail and a mysterious boy with two dogs come from out of nowhere and then vanish just as quickly. Where do you think the boy and his dogs could have gone?"
"I don't know," said Patrick. "I've been up here many times, and have never seen anything but rocks, trees, and snow. I say we come back here tomorrow and do a little exploring. I'd like to know what that boy was doing up here and why he was conveniently in a position to help us out of a jam."
"Keep in mind that he didn't have to help us. By helping us, he gave up his cover, so to speak. So he can't be all bad."
"I still have a feeling that he is up to no good. I can't explain it. It is just a feeling. Okay, let's get out of here before the snow storm hits," Patrick said as he dropped his snowboard down on the snow.
Once again, they thought they were alone.... but they weren't.
"Flattery will get you everywhere," responded Rachel with a smile. "I'm glad you like the way it turned out. We worked hard on this. It took us hours."
"I'll bet," said Patrick. "Whose idea was it to hang a net full of balloons on the ceiling? That should really surprise him."
"That was my idea," said Maddie. "It's possible that somehow Aaron heard about the party. If that is the case, he won't be too surprised when he walks in and sees everyone. But he will be surprised when 200 balloons fall on his head!"
"Two hundred balloons!" exclaimed Jake. "No wonder it took you hours. You ladies are full of more hot air than I ever imagined."
"Very funny," responded Rachel as she pretended to hit Jake's arm. "We have actually been blowing the balloons up a few at a time over the last week. We didn't want to pass out from blowing them up at once."
Just then, the doorbell rang. The first guests had arrived. Over the next 30 minutes, about 25 more people arrived for the party. They followed instructions and parked their cars at the school and walked the block to Jake and Rachel's house. Some of the guests lived close enough that they were able to walk from home to the party. Finally, it was time for everyone to hide. They all went into the family room so they couldn't be seen from the front entry. At first, they waited quietly. But as the minutes passed and there was no sign of Aaron, they began to whisper. After a while, the whispers became a low murmur, the murmur eventually grew to a loud roar. They almost forgot that they were waiting for Aaron, when the doorbell rang.
"Shhhhh!" commanded Rachel in a loud whisper. The group huddled together so that they couldn't be seen from around the corner. Rachel went to the door and opened it with a smile. "Hi, Aaron, are you looking for Jake?"
"No, my mom asked me to stop by to pick up some stuff that your mom said she could borrow. I don't even know what it is. I only know that I am supposed to get it and bring it home for her," responded Aaron appearing to have no idea that 30 of his friends were all frozen in silence on the other side of the stairs.
"Hmmmm, my mom didn't mention anything about having stuff for your mom. Come on in and I will check with her. She is in the kitchen." Aaron stepped into the house and closed the door. He followed Rachel across the wood floor in the entryway. Rachel stepped down into the family room and rounded the corner. Aaron was about to step down when the balloons came down on his head, and he heard a loud "Surprise!" Everyone came out from around the corner. They all laughed at the shocked look on Aaron's face.
"Wow, I had absolutely no idea! I can't believe you were able to pull this off without me hearing about it," Aaron said with amazement. "I didn't even see any cars outside. Where did everyone park?"
Excerpted from Boarder Boys by Brenda Sweeney Copyright © 2013 by Brenda Sweeney. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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