I’ve been staring at the south face of Maple Mountain for some time now. This is an easy thing to do seeing as it’s smack dab in my face from Simon’s house. And when you’re looking at the south face, you’re also more or less eyeing the topography of the orange trail.
I have not liked the orange trail for a long time now, and by “not liked” I mean despised. I have pointed it out to various people as we cross it on the way up the pink trail and always said, “See that trail? Don’t ever take it! It’s truly awful!”
And it is awful – or at least it was until today. I’ve gone up it twice. Both times involved bush whacking for quite a good chunk of it through head high thistles, brambles, stinging nettles and other nefarious weeds. Also stumbling over rocks and blowdowns. And broom- lots and lots of broom. Both times I have gone up I have emerged scratched and bloody and vowing never to do it again.
So today, I was almost pleased by the wind and torrential rain: a good excuse to call off yet one more hike up the trail. My idea was to find another way up that would eliminate the bushwhack. In other words – an adventure. But it was raining so I decided not to go and to clean the bathroom instead. Maybe that was what ultimately changed my mind. Let’s see: clean bathroom or hike? Yeah – why not hike in the wind and rain?
Simon drove me to the trailhead and off I went. The rain was minimal and it was warm. All good so far. I’d forgotten how pretty the lower part of the trail is, and not just pretty: gorgeous. So that was great. But then, after considerable up, I arrived at that place where the bushwhack begins. The cairns and trail markers lead to the right. But I knew what lay ahead, so I turned left on an old logging road. I figured there had to be some way in that direction. The first signs were not good. The road ran downhill instead of up. And then it seemed I’d been on it far too long. I gave myself to a bend in the road before turning around. And – happiness: just before the bend, a trail with flagging led up to the right. Perfect!
It was a faint trail but I liked where it was leading so Abby and I soldiered on. There was a bit of a bushwhack where I really had to figure out where to go. All trail markers had disappeared. But we made it out to yet another old road heading uphill. We followed that and came out exactly where I wanted to: at the top of the bushwhack where the orange trail was clearly marked again. From here on it should have been a piece of cake. But no – I took a wrong directional flag and Abby and I spent about 20 minutes crashing around up on some cliffs before I wised up, headed back to the last clear marker and found our very obvious way. Duh!
And so on to the top of Maple where the wind was quite literally roaring. In fact, for a very good part of this hike, especially near the top, I was acutely aware of the wind and the cracking and crashing of trees and falling branches. Clearly, it wasn’t the safest day to be out in the woods. But oh well.
From the top, we took the middle pink trail down, not only because it’s not as steep as the south pink, but mostly because it is less exposed to the south and today, that made it far safer.
And so, down to the blue and then the blue trail straight out to the end of Maple Bay Road if I’d had my car parked there, my timing would have been perfect because it started to rain just as we finished our hike a little more than four hours after setting out. However, I didn’t have my car. Simon was coming to pick me up and when I called him he was at the vet, where I knew he would be. No problem: I simply began to walk back along the road.
The rain got heavier and more intense. I walked. It got worse. By the time Abby and I got to Maple Bay, we were soaked. So we cowered in a beer smelling alcove of a village bar until Simon got to us. I was never so happy to get into a car. As for Abby, when she saw Simon’s car, she almost ripped the leash out of my hands, she ran so fast. And I thought she was pooped from hiking!
And now I’ve had a hot shower; I’m warm and dry in a cozy sweater; I’ve eaten a ton of chocolate (although I want even more); and, best of all, I’m sitting here writing this blog while Simon writes just across the room.
Ah, the utter contentment of simply being in the presence of the person I love. No words need be spoken. Just the two of us sharing this space with two lovely puppies. I really can’t think of anyplace else I would rather be.