Sunday, November 16, 2008

Inspiration with a Little Perspiration

The Perspiration: Peak Of the Ridges

Baxter State Park closes its gates for day use around the 15th of October every year. That's because the peaks start getting icy and snowy and there's not always enough light to safely complete all the trails. So, a friend and I decided to get in one last hike of the season Saturday, the 11th.

Our intent was to do a trail called "The Traveler," which encompasses 3 peaks. It was my first big hike of the season. If all went as planned, we'd be walking 10 to 12 hours. I'd spent the last six weeks in physical therapy recovering from a twist in the muscles in my back caused by too many hours at the sewing machine with really crappy posture. Fortunately, it's an injury that responds well to movement and exercise. I'd been walking at least an hour a day for a couple months had done some shorter hikes in Acadia National Park earlier in the season. As I packed my backpack, I was pretty excited to being going on an adventure.

This is a view of "Peak of the Ridges" where we'd decided to hike. It's about 6:30am. Cold, overcast, exhilarating...and, to me, a bit intimidating. I kept calling the mountaing "Top 'O The Mornin'" to remind myself to laugh and have a good time.

This is what climbing this mountain is like...picking your way over rocks at each step of the way. Doable, but be prepared for a rugged hike.

See that notch at the end of the lake? That's where the car is parked.

It's not too far into the climbing part of the hike that you start getting some views, though...

...and more views...

...and more views...

Look cold to you? YUP! That's because it was! And windy. We didn't hang out too long at the top. Don't even have a picture of it.

We made the decision at the peak of "Peak of the Ridges" to turn around and go back the way we'd come. My pace was pretty slow because of my inexperience rock-hopping. Earlier in the season, we would have had more light and could have finished the loop. As it was, we didn't want to put a time pressure on ourselves. Admittedly, I was disappointed not to do the whole Traveler loop, but it was a good decision. Better safe than sorry...

Afternoon shot of the mountains and lake.

This was a rugged hike for me--about a 9 hour round trip. It wasn't my first time on scree, but, really the first time I'd rock hopped for such an extended amount of time. It's tiring. You have to pay attention every second. I fell once. We'd reached a relatively flat part of the trail and I decided to grab a snack. Apparently, I can't walk and eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich at the same time. I whacked my knee hard enough for me to need a few minutes to decided whether I should go on or not.

I faced some challenges coming down the mountain. Parts of it were really scary. This kind of hiking brings with it its own kind of problem-solving. A lot of it was new to me. Doable, but new. In the past, I might have freaked out and become frustrated. This time, I didn't. I admit to a few...ah..."moments"...when I wasn't sure how to proceed, but my friend and I took it slow and remembered to laugh when we could. We focused not on what was ahead, but what each moment held in store. It's when you're tired you have to pay the most attention and, in doing so, I felt alive and present. It's a bit of an adrenalin rush! Despite its challenges, this was not a bad way to spend the day.

When we got back to the car my legs were achy. I definitely was ready to sit down. I had blisters on my feet. I was ready for a nap. And I was happy for the day, the fresh air, the exercise, and the companionship. It is not every day a person gets the chance to soak in the wonder of Maine's Baxter State Park. And, for me, personally, being in the park somehow helps me feel like I'm the right size. It's an awesome place to be...literally and figuratively...and I wouldn't trade a day like this for the world. I'm already planning to do the whole Traveler loop next summer.

The Inspiration: Mountain Escape Soft Sculptured Art Lobster Doll

Front View featuring a mountain day scene.

Back View featuring a mountain night scene.

"Mountain Escape" lobster is made from recycled/repurposed leather, cotton and denim fabrics, embroidery floss, cotton thread, beads, buttons, craftlace and cotton batting. It's machine stitched with hand embroidered embellishments. One-of-a-kind. ©2008 Sojourn Quilts. All Rights Reserved.