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CC’s Outdoor Journal; On top of Old Speck
GRAFTON NOTCH- Bruce will often look at me after a particularly long day or week and tell me to go get inspired. He knows that I know this is his friendly way of telling me to go take a hike. I don’t think I can remember an instance when I took this the wrong way or didn’t take his advice.
His instruction once again came at the right time, as I was preparing my mind and body for the adventurous task of climbing Mt. Katahdin. A task I am not taking lightly, and honestly, I am pretty nervous about.
Anyway, right now, I’m on Old Speck, Katahdin is ten days away, and the day is gorgeous. A little chilly as Jackie and I check out the map on the wooden sign in the parking lot off Route 26, but perfect for our 7.6-mile roundtrip hike ahead.
As is our custom while hiking, we start out gabbing, talking, and laughing as we hoof it up the steepest sections of the trail, not really paying any mind to anything but the trail ahead. We stop and take a few pictures near some cool rock steps, a plank crossing, and of course, the Cascade Brook waterfall that parallels the trail a little ways up.
Every now and then, Jackie asks if I’ve seen a white Appalachian Trail marker on a tree or rock. My answer is in the negative, as there has not been a single marker for more than a quarter mile. If it weren’t for the obvious trail, we would have been concerned, but we know that it is supposed to intersect with the Eyebrow Loop somewhere in the first mile.
We continue to walk, listening to the birds, crossing a stream bed, admiring the tall pines that create a nice canopy, shading the trail from the increasing heat of the sun and talking of our plan to hike Katahdin with three of our friends.
It’s been an enjoyable hike and we can see that we’re coming out to the edge of the mountain and the trail looks familiar to me, as I hiked the Eyebrow with Laurieann Milligan in my beginner hiking days four years ago. The mountain hasn’t changed much.
Not really sure where the trails intersect, and knowing that we’ve hiked at least a mile, I question if we may have missed a sign and realize that Jackie thought ahead and printed off the trail description and I have it in my pack.
Looking at the map and comparing with the app on my phone that I’m tracking our hike with, I confirm we’re still on track and we should see the trail split in another tenth of a mile or so. We continue on and sure enough there is a rock with the first white marker we’ve set eyes on and a little ways after that is the tree holding the signs for Old Speck and Eyebrow Loop with the two white slashes indicating a trail junction.
We continue on and meet Morning Kid, a young lady from Illinois who told us she took to the trail when she became bored and dissatisfied with her undergraduate work. She began the trail with a friend, but the friend decided the path of the AT wasn't for her when they made it to Harper's Ferry, Virginia.
Knowing that you’re on the right path is always a relief, and it was at that moment that I began an internal inventory of the signs that I was on the right path in my life.
What better place to be than in nature when you’re taking personal inventory. I thought to myself and asked a couple simple questions. Am I happy? What makes me happy? If I’m not so happy, what is it that makes me sad or dissatisfied?
All the obvious answers came to mind; Yes, I am happy. I’m happy because I’m healthy, I feel love for those around me and I feel their love. I’m happy in my marriage and even though I wish my husband could be with me on every mountain I climb, I have him in my heart and know he’ll be waiting at home to hear of my adventures.
It makes me happy that I still enjoy my job, it fulfills me and best of all, it continues to challenge me. I’m happy that I have great friends, family and pets to love and care for. I’m happy that I can ride my motorcycle to work on nice days and have a truck for the rainy days. That I have a house to keep me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Cresting that next hill, coming into a clearing with a view that I had never set eyes on before of the northwest landscape, standing on that pile of granite, it was at that moment, I remembered that it had been a while since I had a conversation with the Almighty and thanked Him for what I have.
Jackie and I had been talking the whole way. I’m sure I was answering her and keeping with conversation, but inside I was coming to a truth, to an awakening. I’m sure I’m not alone, but have you ever gotten so busy in life, so wrapped up that you forgot that it really isn’t all about you?
I apologize to my friend for maybe not paying as close attention as I should have to her during those moments, but God was clearly showing himself to me on that mountain. He opened my eyes for the first time in awhile to His greatness, His power, His generous spirit.
I looked out over that landscape with new eyes and I remember Jackie saying she had to get a picture of my expression. I couldn’t share with her at that moment what that expression was for, but when I got home and looked at the pictures, I saw it. I saw the look of a new attitude.
A few days later I saw a post in my life warriors group, “I fell victim to the anger, bitterness and hate because of the human in me; I rise victorious in joy, peace and love thanks to the God in me.”
While climbing to the peak of Old Speck and going even further and climbing to the top of the tower to see the 360-degree view of the landscape, even though my heart was beating out of my chest at the fear of climbing that ladder, I found my peace again. I remembered where my strength to face my fears comes from. I was able to let go of the negative feelings that were welling up in my heart.
As a human, I tend to react to the situations around me, but I need to continually remind myself that if I would just stop reacting and trust in He who gives me strength, I will lead a much more peaceful life.
I spend a lot of time in the outdoors and find joy in seeing new things. Maybe something that I’ve always looked at but never truly seen. I pray, that in your adventures, no matter where they take you, that you see your reflection of love, peace and joy in all that you touch.