Surrounding the campfire, the small caravan of travelers were on their third full day of being lost on the open plains. The party had been covering a mere ten miles a day, chiefly due to lack of experience. It was during a severe weather outbreak on their thirty-first day of travel that had mislaid their path as they wandered into uncharted regions. Beyond those of the crude maps they carried. They had the food stores on hand for three additional weeks travel; four if rationed correctly. Amongst the party of eight, was but one who had thus ventured past the mighty Mississippi, he was the navigator, John Bryson.
John was not at any length a seasoned traveler himself, having only recently come to the fringes of the Great Plain from upstate New York. He had tagged along with a survey commission out of Kansas City, who were turned back by weather after only three days. That trip represented the whole of his experience as a navigator. The remainder of the party was a family unit of seven; Father, mother, three girls, two boys, and a dog named Ducky. They were the Millers.
The Millers had arrived in Kansas City from the city of Chicago, and upon arriving sought navigational assistance. The goal was to reach Colorado and make an early start on the prospects of silver mining. Only recently, large deposits of silver had been found in the region, and mines and industry were starting to prosper. The Millers, having lost nearly all in a block fire, only several months before. Mark tried to mend the home, but the structure was a loss. Upon hearing of the potential for riches in Colorado, took up the last of his savings and purchased the necessary team, wagons, and provisions. Mark felt that if he could arrive in Colorado before the reaches of the rail systems did, he would have a foothold above the incoming crowds.
“How do you suspect we’ll be untangling ourselves from this one, john?” asked Mark, father of the Miller clan.
“It’s hard to say. With the cloud cover, we’ll have to wait for daybreak to make sense of the direction.”
“How long do you think it might take to find the trail again?” the soft-spoken Abigail asked.
“It shouldn’t take too long. We’ve made but poor progress and can’t be too far. I suspect that if we head north, we’ll come to the trail again.”
“That makes proper sense. I still can’t figure on how we got lost,” said Mark.
“With the storm that had been pushing through, I thought it best we make haste and try to find our way out of the open. I reckon that we should have stayed put.”
“Well, at least we’ve got good bearings with that compass of yours,” replied Mark.
“It’s true, she is a fine piece, though, I must confess, I know little of its use.”