March 24, 1945 — Saturday

We had a hard time climbing the steep slope to reach our resting place for the day. We called it: ‘Seventh Heaven.’ It is about 60 meters above the trail. It was so steep and slippery that we had to crawl grabbing the thick grass and whatever branches and trunks we could hold on to in order not to slip back.

The wheels of Maning’s pushcart came off. Maning still had high fever and had to lean on me. His weight plus my water canteen, .36 caliber revolver, 30 rounds of ammo, a blanket, a topcoat, were very heavy.

We were tired and hungry after the 13-kilometer climb. As I lay on the ground, I thought about the hardships we are going through and wondered –are we not actually “playing with Death”? Here we were exposed to Nature’s ferocity and gentleness. We had the mellow shade of large, beautiful trees above. At the same time, there was the biting cold wind. Suddenly, I thought, the fear of not having anything to eat or of being killed no longer bothered me. What really bothered me more was the fear of the Unknown. We were not really playing with Death. We were instead the playthings of Nature.

We started to walk at 6:00 p.m. towards Pingkian, fourteen kilometers away. The mountain trails began to descend and the walk became easier. Even Mama decided to walk. Mama is determined to go through it all no matter what.

We arrived at Pingkian at 11:10 in the evening, 50 minutes ahead of schedule. We had walked fourteen kilometers in five hours! We decided to just spread blankets to lie down. We were too tired to worry about dirt and dust.

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