Stepping carefully, snow crunching under his insulated Timberland boots, the lone hiker made his way through a stand of leafless aspen and birch trees. The layer of ice beneath the new-fallen snow required a shorter gait, one necessitating a short slide after placing each foot. This is more like skating than hiking, he grumbled, knowing winter's icy grip wouldn't acquiesce anytime soon.
Emerging from the woods he paused to scan an open field, eying the patch of evergreens at the far end. He fervently hoped the tightly-packed trees would mean easier walking once he ducked under their overhanging branches. Before starting across the field he noticed the quiet. The chickadees and jays from the woods had moved elsewhere, only his breathing broke the silence. He carefully started across the field.
Where the trail met the woods it split into three directions. He pondered each as he scanned through the trees, envisioning paths that would allow minimal disturbance. He started off to the west. Minutes later he turned a slow circle, thinking how easy it would be to get lost if you weren't paying attention. Bread crumbs and pebbles crossed his mind.
That's when he noticed the body.
To be continued . . . .
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