It all started when Sun God (who up until now was a guy we referred to as Cousin Bruce) planted the seed at a family camp out at Graves Island. A group of people are going to climb a mountain at night, watch a sunrise, hike along a mountain range and back to the parking lot. This idea stuck in my mind the rest of the weekend and was just bizarre enough that I had to do it. My 17-year-old daughter Beth got caught up in my enthusiasm and also wanted to go. We agreed to go ahead a day early and do some back to school wardrobe building at Freeport and North Conway. The first part of the trip was successful lots of shopping but very little rest between the driving and a cabin near Freeport not far from the shoulder of the I 95. People we met on our trip were very friendly, even the RCMP at Sussex went out of their way to talk to the nice Nova Scotians. Enough preamble.
As we got closer to the trail head at Lafayette for the meeting time of 19:00 hr. wipers on high speed I knew we would not be going up tonight. A few minutes late Sun God met us in the parking lot, the first words out of his mouth were " We are going up". After much scurrying around trying not to pack extras but making sure we had the necessities we were finally ready for our first serious hike.
Feeling a bit like a virgin bride, ( you have been told it is going to be great but your not exactly sure of what to expect) we were excited and a bit apprehensive. So off we went with something old something new something borrowed and something blue. The others had gone ahead and Sun God stayed back to guide us rookies. The plan at this point was to go as far as we could and if the rain got so bad we would crash on the trail and wait out the weather. We didnít make much progress up the trail when it became obvious that flashlights were needed in order to navigate safely.
About an hour into the hike we meet up with Sue and Bob and proceeded to work our way up. It was very wet but fortunately it was also warm. A quarter of a mile below Greenleaf hut we came across a body lying on the trail. My first instinct was that someone was injured but as we got closer we discovered it was Norman . Apparently the only casualty here was his flashlight and he was forced to stay put. After walking through his bedroom we took the mandatory photos and proceeded to Greenleaf The rain suggested we make shelter and crash for the night.
The next morning at fogrise we ate breakfast and broke camp. After spending several hours on the trail with Sue and Bob the night before we finally got to see what they actually looked like. This was not a bad thing. It was heart warming to witness the great pleasure Sue derived from cooking pancakes on her camp stove. Norman met with us at our campsite where shortly after Ross caught up and passed through dressed for speed.
Approximately an hour up the trail we made the summit, watched Norman do a Coke commercial and had a snack. The view at the top was spectacular. It reminded me of standing on the shore near Peggyís Cove on a foggy day. As we left the old foundation the wind came up bringing with it heavy rain. A decision had to be made. The severe weather conditions dictated we head back down and not continue along the ridge.
By the time we reached Greenleaf the weather had broken so we spent some time lounging on the deck talking with other hikers. Said our goodbyes to Sue and Bob, Bruce, Norman, Beth and myself continued down the trail. The weather had cleared to the point that we did get to enjoy a few vistas on the way out. The summit of Lafayette even exposed itself for a brief moment.
The excursion up the mountain was a most positive experience. For a first serious hike I donít think we could have gone to a better location. It was a real pleasure to meet all that participated and many thanks for allowing us to feel like part of the group. I would also like to thank my daughter Beth for being terrific company and demonstrating good sportsmanship especially when she had to share her humble bed with a party of slimy slugs (I am referring to the actual animal not present company). The weather didnít co-operate but I think it is important to experience any outdoor adventure in a multitude of environmental conditions. It makes those perfect days feel more like well deserved trophies.
alias Dave Longard