In the early 90’s, a coworker (and partner of a reader – you know who you are!) took me on a hike along Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire. It is, to this day, one of my favourite hikes I’ve been on. It’s about nine miles long and takes a good seven hours for an experienced hiker to do. It’s stunningly beautiful, as you’ll see. I still remember, though, on the descent, following behind my friend. when all of a sudden I heard a rustling of what had to be a massive animal behind me. Probably it was a bear or moose – something big was coming my way. I ran ahead of him, warning him that something was chasing me. I got a few feet ahead of him before he told me to stop and, laughing, showed me the monster that had been chasing me: a small pheasant about the size of a chicken. It made all that noise to protect its nest. Once it realized we were onto its trick, it changed tactics and pretended to be injured. “Look at me, Mr. Predator! I’m hurt. Follow me over here away from my nest and eat me here!” It was a good lesson in realizing the things we’re afraid of are not always what they seem.
In 2008, not long before Daegan’s 10th birthday we decide to do the hike together on a trip through New England we’re taking. We head to the mountain and start up it. It’s a little warm, being mid-July but no worries, as we gain elevation, we will lose temperature. By the time we hit the summit we might even be a little chilly.
As we go up the trail goes from dirt to a mixture of dirt and rocks. (Check out young Daegan’s long hair!)
The views get nicer as gain elevation and we can see the White Mountains around us.
At the top is a lodge which is available for hikers to stay overnight in. When we get there there are a few breakfast leftovers – some pancakes and a muffin so we supplement our own food with that and have a little break. The air is cool and crisp. There’s also a quality to the sound at this elevation that is strange – as if when you speak your voice might only carry 10-15 feet and no more. As we sit here I imagine my job being to work in this hut. What a commute you have up the mountain and such a great view. Of course when the weather is bad up there it can be pretty terrible.
We leave the lodge and walk along the ridge. We’re pretty high up now as you can see. Most of the nearby mountains are below us.
We walk along the ridge, taking in the scenery. It really is stunning. Finally we turn back toward the road and start down off the ridge. Before long we reach the stream that runs along much of the path. Along the way we see so many waterfalls. As we climb down I am happy that there are still unfiltered experiences like this. We are allowed to walk along a ridgeline and next to waterfalls which could result in a nasty fall. But instead of having our experience moderated by fences and signs telling us to be careful, we’re trusted to look out for ourselves.
We grab the wrong trail and take even longer to get back to the car, having to walk along the road for a good distance but it doesn’t matter. We’ve had an amazing day.
The next day we head to a coworker’s house. She’s offered to put us up for a few days so we can catch the bus down to Boston and see the sights for a few days instead of paying Boston hotel rates. We spend the next day in the city at the Science Museum and other sights. By the end of the day, Daegan isn’t feeling well – a bit feverish and tired with no appetite. We head back a bit early and he goes to sleep right after dinner.
The next morning we wake up with a plan to go to Boston again to have more fun. Daegan gets out of bed, stands up and immediately falls. His leg really hurts to the point where he can’t put any weight on it. I look at his foot and there are some serious blisters. He was hiking in new shoes and paid for it. But as stoic as he is, he never said a word or made a complaint, not on the 8 mile hike, not on the walk all throughout Boston the day after.
What’s more worrisome is that the blisters are clearly infected and there’s a red line running up his leg from them. This is not good. I find a local walk-in clinic and we head straight there. They’re concerned and immediately administer IV antibiotics, give him a prescription for other antibiotics and tell him he’s not to do anything but sit with his leg elevated all weekend. We intend to go home on Monday but they tell us before we travel he needs to stop by to make sure the antibiotics are doing their job.
We go back to my coworker’s house and she tells us that she has to leave town for business but that her fridge is filled with food including a pre-made lasagne. There are homemade dinners all frozen along with Ben and Jerry’s in the fridge, chips, salsa and snacks of all kinds. We’re sternly told that we must eat these things or they will go bad while she’s gone. Then she gives us the instructions for the big screen TV and cable, telling us to order whatever movies we wanted. Daegan, who was worried he might be bored and not sure how he would be able to manage sitting all weekend is thrilled.
We have a great weekend watching all kinds of TV together. Our host’s grown-up daughter comes by a few times to check in on us and make sure we’re OK. Monday rolls around and we get to the doctor’s office again. A quick look confirms that he’s healing well and will be fine in a couple of days. (The $700 US bill for two visits totalling 30 minutes is a bit of a shock but fortunately our insurance will reimburse us for that)
As we drive home I apologize to Daegan for the hike clearly having been something really painful. He looks at me funny and says “It was hard, but if we hadn’t done it we wouldn’t have seen all of those waterfalls!”
Inspired by Bren’s Photo of the Week Challenge – Stream.