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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