Posted by: syncopated1 | October 16, 2011

Fall Dreams

“I dream of the fires that burn on the hillsides of the east,” she had said on the phone, “my western playground has oceans, rivers, real mountains, and is big! But it will never explode in a burst of vibrant colors each year.”

I thought of her words as I trekked away into the Maine woods yesterday. The rain had just finished a few hours before; the rocks and mossy undergrowth were flushed with runoff, and much of the trail was muddy. Striding along with rock slides on my left and a sharp descent of trees to my right I was fiercely proud of my little mountains and how in alive the world was with color. It was like a final, end of the season, costume party before winter and the trees shed all their vanity in favor of more somber, and practical clothing. I broke for water and a snack in a small stand of trees that was bathed with a gentle, orange effervescence of the sun piercing through the fall leaves. In the stillness of that space it was difficult to concentrate on anything other than the orange hue to the very air around me.

The cliff trail I was following above Jordan Pond is a stunning hike for someone like me. Every so often the trees below break apart to unveil breathtaking views, but for much of the trail I wandered through tree copses and against sheer cliff faces ideal for rock climbing. All of the fantasy novels I have read came flooding back to me as I looked around, noting at least a dozen sites that were perfectly suited for ambushing someone on the trail. I envisioned men, armed to the teeth leaping out from behind trees and rocks, or rising from above cliff tops with whooping warcries and raining arrows and stones down upon me as I attempted to penetrate ever deeper into their world. This feeling of treading into “guarded” territory stayed with me to the summit of Penobscot Mountain. I hadn’t seen a single soul during the hike up, and summitting was no different. Penobscot Mountain climbs out of her trees with a massive rolling granite top. She commands long views in all directions and after the feeling of the cliffs it seemed strange that there was no castle, fort, or watch tower on her peak.

As strange as it seemed; it did not exist, and I shrugged away that fantasy and turned to head down the western ridge of Penobscot. Once I cleared the roll of the granite slope and entered into the trees again, the trail and atmosphere radiated orange again. This time it was from the yellowed pine needles that had fallen and blanketed the forest floor in a thick carpet. I paused long enough to revel in how nature had achieved the same effect in two very different ways, and then I turned down the stone steps and continued on, homeward bound, and out of this dream-like afternoon.

I had spent three and a half hours on that mountain, and I only saw one other person at the very end of my hike. It wasn’t until that point that I lost the magic of the solitude that I had found, and now as I write I strive to recapture some of it with my words but I feel I may have to wait until my next adventure to find it again.



  1. Beautiful and lovely writing skills you have Skylar.

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