Maine… it’s the real deal: part 1
The trail brings so many things to life, you don’t realize just how much until you leave the trail. Maine… Maine was one of those things.
Maine started out rocky, figuratively and literally. We’d made it through the Mahoosuc rocks and were back on trail after celebrating my grandfather’s 92nd birthday, but things weren’t all peaches and cream. There was a new layer of stress hanging in the air between me and Scribe, I hadn’t been able to figure out exactly what was going on but it didn’t matter I knew we’d be parting ways soon, I just didn’t realize how soon.
There was no easy way to get back into the trail after taking four days off, especially when you’d hopped off and on trail in a notch, the only option was up, 2,215 feet up. Things which stick with you when hiking; hills, animals, people, water sources, and anything which breaks up the mundane. Maine was quickly showing a side for being memorable. Our second day back on trail wasn’t long or physically grueling, and yet it destroyed me. I made it to the shelter shortly after three and the idea of moving on to a campsite was only a faint thought. I had chaffing in places the sun never saw: the undersides of my arms, my legs, where my bra touched, my lower back, and I’m sure there were more. There was no way to move without discomfort, my day was over. I changed into my dry set of clothes and hung all my stuff out in hopes it would dry before I had to put it back on in the morning. The evening was relatively calm, with an odd crew of folks surrounding us, a section hiker, some NoBo’s, and another orientation group.
There are times when you wish you didn’t have contact with the “real” world, instead you’d continue hiking through the woods oblivious to what was taking place beyond the trees. My morning started with a huge emotional roller coaster, I received news, Skiddy, my cat and one of the few loves of my life was very ill. Maybe I was foolish for allowing a cats health to disrupt my journey but Skiddy was not just any cat, he had been with me for over 15 years and had helped me through many a tough time. He was my sanity during an abusive relationship, my guardian when I was incapacitated by migraines, my alarm clock when three jobs was wearing me out, my travel companion when I moved to NC, my sidekick after surgery, and my hiking partners best friend. How does one make life and death decisions from a distance? I spent a small part of the morning talking with my wonderful roommate who was caring for Skiddy. I did the best I could from the trail, I made my phone available for the day and told her I’d check in that night. I hiked off into my day with a heavy heart.
If I haven’t said this before listen carefully because this is important, the trail provides. Yes, such a simple thing, just three words, “the trail provides“. Our planned hike for the day was once again well within reason, only 13 miles, 13 of the longest miles. The 1st mile and a half plunged us down 1,500 feet. Now, downhill can be nice but it can also precede an uphill, this one was 1,400 feet up in less than a mile. “Hello Maine!!!” But this, this is where the trail provides. During the grueling uphill I talked with the orientation group from the night before, they were a fun loving group excited to be out and fascinated by my journey. One of the leaders encouraged me to come out to an overlook to enjoy the view with all of them, I learned more about the mountains I’d just hiked and found wonderful distraction in their conversation. We played leapfrog along the trail over the next half hour. I joined them at the last overlook, the smell of citrus wafting on the air. I couldn’t contain myself and asked if someone had just eaten an orange, they laughed thinking I was a little crazy, it had been eaten a quarter mile back. I laughed with them, I’d been following the scent of it up the trail, drooling while images of oranges danced in my head. Later as I continued along the trail the weight of the fresh orange in my pack lightened my heavy heart.
There’s this mountain in Maine, if you can believe that, called Old Blue Mountain. This mountain shall forever remain on the list of least favorite and most memorable. We’d made it up the first steep climb, No Shame was impatient with my slow progress and was having no trouble telling me all about it. The terrain started to shift from rocky to the ever famous roots of Maine. No Shame was ahead of me on the trail when I saw her body language change, there was a weariness to her movements. I immediately went into high alert calling her quietly back to me, I stopped my rapid search of the surrounding woods long enough to clip her leash on. Slowly we crept forward, her body stiff, nose in the air, her head turned to our right, eyes focused on a single spot, a slow whine working its way into her throat. My eyes probed the depths of the woods searching, our eyes locked, the moose stood a little over 30 feet away from me tucked behind brush. If we wanted to continue up the trail we’d have to walk within ten feet of this cow. The stories of moose aggression coursed through my mind, yet there was a calmness in her gaze. Cautiously we moved forward closing the distance. She watched us then quietly slipped away from the trail, she was headed south. I froze allowing her to make a wide loop around us emerging onto the trail 25 feet south of where we stood. She paused long enough to burn the perfect image of the trail in my mind; a moose butt poking out from one side of a tree her head the other, she looked straight down the trail from where she’d come, and the white blaze, it marked her placed perfectly on the dividing tree.
To be cont’d
One of my previous blogs talks a little more of this section of trail. If you want to connect to it click here “Living in the Moment”
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