At the drop point, he helped me out of the car, even though I didn’t need any assistance. We found ourselves in the deserted upper area of an old works site. A small sign post pointed down a hiking path to Lake Tear of the Clouds.
Nike left my side momentarily at the arrival point to collect our communications equipment from Matt, who was talking to a group of men. She clipped the power pack to the back of my vest and fed the clear coil up to my hairline. It clipped easily into place, sitting comfortably around my ear, the microphone extended in line with my jaw.
The snow had fallen here for some time and a thick layer of powder coated everything. Footprints trampled the once pristine whiteness leading down the trail. A crackle of static sounded and Matt led the way forward.
We followed the narrow trail and crushed the snow into slush until we reached Calamity Brook. It sat solid, frozen within the banks. There the path widened and an old logging road took us up to a pond. A stone monument stood nearby, it said something about someone called David Henderson. I didn’t have a clue who he was. We crossed a bridge and another frozen river before stopping for a rest.
Nike shared a drink bottle and a handful of granola bars with me, from one of the men’s packs, before we started on our way again. No one spoke as we trudged along the path. Sharp turns and uneven footing, combined with snow and slush, left the paths treacherous. The fallen trees and rotten logs littering the route didn’t help.
Some time later we finally came to see the lake, nestled within the protective clutches of Mount Marcy. It was hard to believe something so small and pretty could be the source of the mighty Hudson River.
Mount Marcy towered a thousand feet above the lake, bare barring the natural features of the earth. There was nothing to suggest it was anything but a mountain, not even a buzz of electricity.
Matt led the way around the frozen pool. Had it been liquid, I could imagine the sight would have been amazing: the reflection of the mountain in the waters of the lake, shimmering beneath the full moon in the dark, star-studded sky.
We wound our way to the opposite bank and the skeletons of frozen trees and snow-covered spruce. The facility came into view.
Half of the first team left and circled the mountain to approach the facility from behind. We waited silently until they confirmed their position. The cool air tickled the stray hairs not confined in my bun.
The remaining members of team one swarmed forward, weapons at the ready. They converged on the pretentious building in formation. They overwhelmed the guards and took the front entrance easily. The other team radioed in to confirm their capture of the back entrance, too.
We crossed the distance between the trees and the building in no time at all. They had secured the prisoners and we moved past them quickly.