Atop Eagle Crag, with the full distance of our hike on display behind us, I take a moment to consider how far we’ve come on this journey. Being contemplative among the good cheer of our new hiking friends is not easy. But that’s a good thing.
For too long, Janelle and I have explored our mutual path, mostly alone. We’ve hiked with a friend or two, but this day has been different. There are eight other people with us today, all veterans of the hills, all with stories of their own in pursuit of many other journeys, some complete, some still in progress.
I miss Meenakshi and wish she were with us.
Janelle draws faces in sparkling mica soil on the ledges with Alex and Sage, her two, newest, best friends. This day has been a positive force in her path, surrounded by a group so rich in enthusiasm and support that I’ve felt comfortable just hanging back at times and letting her truly hike her own hike. There were times I admit when she was not within my sight that my heart would quicken, my thoughts racing. But then I’d remember that she was with someone, the girls were always within sight of someone, and I’d settle back into the meditation of the hike.
Later, in the car, in the moments before she drifts off to sleep for the rest of the ride home, Janelle says, “I wish all people were like hiking people.” The notion is sweet and child-like, but she’s right of course. Teamwork, mutual support, encouragement, working for the benefit of a common goal; that’s what you do when you’re at 3,500 feet and have five miles to go and darkness is coming and the ache from the previous miles has slipped into your knees and you’re nearly out of pop-tarts.
We’re all in this together.
The full hike: Mounts Eastman, South Baldface, North Baldface and Eagle Crag (10/18/12)
Heights: 2,939, 3,570, 3,610 and 3,030 feet
Location: Evans Notch, south of Gorham, north of Conway. I-93 to exit 37 to Route 3 to Route 115 to Route 2 through Gorham to Route 113 south through Evans Notch to trailhead.
Our trailhead: Baldface Circle Trail to Slippery Brook Trail to Eastman Mountain Trail to Eastman summit. Backtrack down Eastman Mountain Trail to Baldface Knob back to Baldface Circle. Baldface Circle over S. and N. Baldface to Meader Trail then .2 to Eagle Crag. Then, backtrack down the Baldface Circle Trail to complete the loop.
Distance: 13 miles round trip. (Warning: The Maine DOT closes Route 113 at some point for winter. There are other access points to the trails and summits. Check ahead in bad weather.)