In the far northeast, amid pristine water falls and tranquil lakes lies a Beast. Dense pine forests create a wilderness that hides the Beast and no hiker knows just how awful it is until it is too late. The Beast appears without warning and escaping its grasp is nearly impossible.
On a lovely sunny day, Chief and I hiked south from Mount Katahdin into the 100 Mile Wilderness of Maine. The sun glistening off the lakes and the sound of rushing water from the streams that fed them kept stealing my attention from the trail. The scent of fresh pine and the song of the birds enveloped us. How lovely it all was. But the incredible beauty of the landscape overshadowed a gnawing feeling in my gut that something wasn’t quite right.
The deeper into the wilderness we trekked the darker the woods became. Suddenly beast-like tentacles of tree roots rose up from the ground and wrapped themselves around our legs tripping our every step. We were too far into the wilderness to turn back and too far from the other end to yet escape. The Beast began to show its ugly razor-sharp rock teeth as we walked over them. The teeth became larger and sharper as we tried to run away, chomping at our boots and legs leaving massive gashes. Higher and higher the teeth grew as we ran and climbed to escape.
The Beast then hurled drone-like mosquitos and terrifying insects at us that bit and stung our bodies leaving large painful welts. It next turned once tranquil streams into raging rivers with fierce currents. As we attempted to cross the waterways, the currents knocked us down onto slippery rocks, nearly swallowing our bodies into a watery grave. Gasping for air and clinging to a support rope, we made it to the other side. If only it were over, but no…
The Beast then threw thunder and lightning at us atop Barren Mountain as we attempted to hide in the pines. The sound was deafening as tympani drums and giant cymbals crashed above our heads. Golf ball sized hail then pelted us, stinging our bodies with every contact. Suddenly a bear soldier jumped from the bushes and sprinted toward Chief. They fought tooth and nail before Chief prevailed in a thumb-war.
Catching him off-guard, Chief stepped in a trap that the Beast had set. That one wrong move hurled Chief high into the air and down on his shoulder. He fought with his hiking sticks but the Beast broke them both, leaving a bloody gash on Chief’s hand. I quickly got him on his feet to run away but then fell into one of the Beast’s mud bogs. At first the black goo sucked in only my arm. Then, like quicksand, the goo started to take me totally under. I screamed for Chief to help and he pulled me to safety just before I was totally submerged.
For seven days we battled the Beast as we hiked to escape the wilderness. We could see a clearing in the distance but in one last attempt the Beast caught my foot and pulled me facedown onto the ground. Chief asked if I wanted to rest as he gently cleaned the blood and mud from my face. “NO!” I cried, “Get me out of here!” So we ran with our last ounce of strength toward the clearing. Exhausted, bruised and beaten down, we are finally…
Safely Harbored, Chief and Toad
P.S. While all of these events actually occurred, some of the details may have been embellished for the reader’s enjoyment. 😊
Don’t forget to read yesterday’s post “Katahdin, Can Do!”
Great descriptions of your time in the Belly of the Beast!!! Just when you think that you’ve faced the worst that the Trail has to offer………..
Very vivid volume! Hollywood will be after you for the screen rights! Hope the next portion of your journey is more Beauty than Beast!
Audrey is still talking about you having a boo boo from tripping in the mud….and she wants to see your boots! 😉 You have made it past two of the toughest portions of the hike…keep on keeping on! Praying for you both every night!