Freya darted ahead while Heathcliff walked on-leash with me down the stone trail from the house to the driveway. It was late afternoon last Tuesday, and we’d had a tremendous storm. I heard a roar. We followed the sound down the hill to the bottom of the ravine. Rain had swollen the mossy trickle into a waterfall.
I was reminded of Roaring Brook at Baxter State Park in Maine. During our growing up years, my father guided my sisters and me on day-trips, climbing Mt. Katahdin to mile-high Baxter Peak during our summer vacations in August. We either hiked to and from Roaring Brook Campground or someone dropped us at Roaring Brook and met us on the other side at Katahdin Stream.
In advance of our climb, Daddy always took us on shorter hikes up West Rock and Sleeping Giant near home in Connecticut. That way, we as a group were prepared for Katahdin’s trails – Chimney Pond, Dudley, Knife Edge, Hunt, Saddle, Cathedral – and got back to the campground and car before nightfall.
We carried water, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and snacks. Daddy’s pack included the guide map, compass, matches, pocketknife, flashlight and first aid kit. Even on warm days, we wore sturdy shoes and socks, long pants, sweatshirts with hoods and rain jackets tied around our waists. The weather on the mountain changed quickly.
Every climb we made featured sun, rain storms, fog, ice and snow – yes, snow in summer. I remember hearing about a woman who, climbing in late October 1963, died of exposure along with an ill-prepared ranger trying to save her. But most of Katahdin’s fatalities recorded in the past hundred years were due to accidents, heart attacks, plane crashes or suicides. Many more became lost and injured due to leaving the trails.
Before I headed out with the dogs last Tuesday, I donned my sturdy hiking boots, warm clothing and rain jacket. As part of his recovery, Heathcliff needed his therapy walk regardless of the chill, fog and rain. Freya took side-trips into the woods but stayed close while Heathcliff and I slowly navigated the gravel road.
Together we listened to the roaring brook and arrived back home well before nightfall.
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Your dad did some neat things with you kids. I don’t remember doing stuff like that with our dad when we grew up. As a farmer he was always outside and did not like doing outdoor stuff when not farming. (Example – he refused to do picnics as he was outside all day long, why would he want to eat out there too?) Of course, being the youngest I may have missed some of those kinds of family things. My sisters often talk about stuff my dad did with them. By the time I came along (an after thought for sure as I’m 10 years younger then them) I don’t think my parents had the energy for that type of thing. Or maybe I just don’t remember it. The mind does that sometimes. WOW, I just read that and it sure sounds like I am feeling sorry for myself. Not the case, just noting and reminding you that you need to be thankful for the fun things your dad did with you.
I had wonderful times with my father and, perhaps like many other children, wanted more. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for the past, which helps shape us into who we are. -C.D.