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Mt. Abraham #66... Listen and be still.

                I do a crazy amount of active listening during my week below 4000Ft. and in going through this past week, I was left wondering if I’d make it above tree line or implode from dealing with life below 4000ft. I wondered, would the water crossing be low enough? I just wondered...Saturday morning, I woke up after an amusing dream of a seasoned hiker in Ugg Boots on the trail with me, smiled and hit the road. There was no way I was going to let uncertainty and 4 lousy points (an ego blow) keep be from this peak. Number 66 of 67. A head full of thoughts and Isis and I are on the road to Kinfield ME. It’s quiet and I’m able to breathe again. I find it amusing that the toll takers now know who I am and Isis benefits in treats. There was only one thing that mattered today… Mt. Abraham. Number 66.

                We got to the trail head and noticed that we were not alone. This might be a good thing considering how remote Maine can be. The guy’s name was Dave from Rhode Island and as it turns out, he was heading over to the Crocker’s. Since I had been there, I passed on some knowledge for his traverse. We talked dogs for a bit and then Isis and I were off after of course saying “See you at the top”. I’ll eat those words later. The first water crossing is hopable to my happiness. I raised my arms in victory as Isis and made it to dry land (she did not have to be carried). The second crossing however, was still a little high. So, out came the Tevas and I picked up Isis. The water was not too cold which was nice considering that lately, I catch a chill and I am cold for days on end again. I also now made it a point not to dwell on my issues since there are people a whole lot worse off in pain than me and struggling a lot more than me so, to complain about a few runaway symptoms never seems like the right thing to do. I can make it through the day in my pain.

                We then head straight which would prove to be a mistake after 2 miles, we turn our selves around and head back realizing that the trail head is not down this particular road. As a gift though, we come around a bend and I see in the distance, a shadow standing there tall and proud. Mamma moose was watching me. I snatched up Isis and tried to snap a picture that turned out grainy and then as we got closer, she bounded off. We make our way back and correct our mistake by noting the HUGE stone arrow pointing the way. My one NFG moment of the day.  We get to the trail head that is appropriately signed…. 4 miles to the summit.

                The trail starts out pretty wooded and reminded me so much of Cabot. It had a gradual gain to it at this point and Isis and I enjoyed to shade of the woods. Since the sun was due to come out through the fog and the clouds, I really wanted to see if I could catch and under cast above tree line. The usual conversation with the ghosts in the woods resumed and I passed the time just enjoying my surroundings. The soundtrack in my head was also in full effect. Isis was having a great time trying to chase EVERYTHING. We came to two more significant water crossings prior to really gaining in elevation. Isis plowed through them like a champ and I praised her for getting soaked. The sun was staring to poke through the fog and the clouds as we came to the tent site. We continued walking after exploring the site and then the gain got steep.

                Isis and I took a lot of breaks and my stride was shortened as we climbed. It was a decent trail as far as upkeep and was not too eroded with mud and other problem areas. I was truly enjoying it as I tried to keep my pulse and breathing under control. Being alone was not even bothering me. I figured that with my mistake this morning, I would not run into Dave and his party again. We kept climbing and soon we began seeing glimpses of the world outside the trees. I stopped at one point and let out an audible “Holy Fuck!” as I stared at a retreating under cast. The clouds looked like thick cotton candy. It didn’t matter to me that I missed a full under cast. What I saw was enough to stop me in my tracks and still take notice. I thought of those that would love to see this in person. Snapped pictures, posted, and moved on. The talus field awaited and that was all exposed.

                We then made our way over the loose rocks and larger boulders. The sun was bearing down and we did take a few extra water breaks as there was none up here for her to drink from. We could see our destination at one point up in the distance and as I kept my eye on it, I began to get overwhelmed with the week and life and pulled myself inward briefly. I decided that at this point, I can continue to be sad and angry or I can just be thankful for what I have. I chose thankful. Today was beautiful and I was coming close to putting another goal behind me. I was grateful for just being here and before I knew it, Isis and I reached the summit. I knocked the sign with my fist and declared it a win (that I needed). Summit pictures and then we settled into a sheltered area for some food due to the wind.

                As we sat, I ate my ice cream and had some wine. Isis had her trail mix and of course left her kibble. The thought of all those that listen to me while I am on the trail came to mind and I raised my “glass” (water bottle of wine) to those that had passed on in my life. Top of the list of course is always Chief and my Gram, followed by some dear friends who just seemed to pop into my head today but had been passed for years. I let out the air in my lungs I seemed to hold on to and thanked them from the bottom of my heart for seeing me through. Today was cleansing. Isis and I explored the summit and found cairns at the far end of the summit, a dungeon of a shelter that I would not let Isis or myself go in for broken glass was all around, and some stone structures built to block the wind. We enjoyed our time up there and reluctantly made our way back down.

                The descend was always quicker for me and I was almost sad to see it all go when we dipped into the trees. Isis was doing well listening to commands and as we made our way back to the car, it was uneventful. No one seemed to be on the trail today so, I was able to let it all hang out and just be. I’d sing and talk and carry on about life and as we rounded the trail back to the car, this was a fun way to blow off steam from the week and it also suddenly occurred to me that all these conversations I had been having should be taking place in other places in my life. Like I said, I do a lot of listening in my week below 4000 Ft. and I seem to come to the woods to have the trees listen to me. I was again grateful and left wondering all at the same time. Time in the woods was so precious to me. It was healing.

                Isis and I did run into father and son team that were heading up late. I had a chance to talk about my accomplishments and the father used it to spring board into a lesson on determination for his son. I let them go as it was getting late and they wanted to summit. I wanted to get back to the car. My mind was already on number 67… The end and the beginning in the same time. We took another wrong turn after getting back to the trail sign and quickly corrected ourselves. I thought to myself that there were a few things I was looking forward to after the 67 was completed… More sleep and less travel (getting up before 3am was wearing on me), and no more logging roads. I wanted to be back home in The Whites really bad (my people are there waiting). Soon enough, Isis and I made our way across the last two water crossings by just plowing through in my Tevas and at the car, I officially declared the WIN. Headed for home in the quiet as night fell and in learning to be still and wait for signs, I’d eventually fade into the background until next weekend… 67 and the end wrapped up in a new beginning back in The White Mountains.

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