For most of the year, folks in Slippery Flats didn’t even notice Fog Hair Mountain standing there at the edge of town.
In the spring and summer, trees and vines swallowed the huge hunk of rock and made it impassable.
In the winter, Fog Hair Mountain might as well have been Fog Hair Glacier. It was nothing but a solid sheet of ice jutting into the sky, cold as a witch’s heart and slick as snot.
It was only in the fall that townspeople remembered Fog Hair and the folklore surrounding it. According to legend, one of the area’s first settlers found a fortune’s worth of gold in Criminy Crick and carried it up to the peak of Fog Hair with his six sons.
But their work ran late into fall and an early snow trapped them with no food. ‘Far as anyone knew, their bodies were still up there — along with all the gold.
That booty would have been easy pickings except that the prospector’s youngest boy had stayed behind, and he stood guard at the base of the mountain each autumn.
Albert Hoover knew this last to be true, because he’d encountered Josie Stubbs himself on a turkey hunt.
But Albert also knew Josie headed up the mountain the last week of October to check on the family treasure — and the family plots — before winter set in.
All Albert had to do was follow Josie at a distance, and the youngest Stubbs boy would lead him right to the gold.
It all went just as Albert planned until Josie disappeared near his family’s burial ground.
As the snow fell like rain and mounded around his feet, Albert counted eight burial plots instead of the seven he expected. The marker on the last space read, simply, “Josie.”