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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

tales to tell: birds of fire

back in the early 90s, before i moved back out west to nevada, i was doing a fair amount of hiking in the mountains and countryside of maine and new hampshire with my most-favorite of people, robin.

on one occasion, we spent a weekend in a cabin up at moosehead lake, which was quite fun on its own. one morning we got up early and drove, via logging roads most of the way, to baxter state park to climb up mt. katadin, the tallest mountain in maine, which also happens to be the northern terminus of the appalachian trail.

our drive there was fairly uneventful and, except for a wall of trees, afforded us little or no scenery once we left the lake.

we did, however, encounter a young bear as it ran across the dirt road as we rounded a corner. we stopped where the bear crossed the road, but never saw it again even though robin wanted to get out and pet it; maybe get it to follower her around like her baby geese.

once we arrived at the trailhead parking area we filled our daypacks with bottles of water, energy snacks and lunch and began our climb.

at one point the trail took us into an area that had a very distinct odor; almost musky. when it grew stronger we noticed moose prints everywhere. not wanting to get between a bull moose and anything else, we started talking really loud and didn’t stop walking until we were way beyond the scent and saw no more prints in the ground.

except for the long hike (about 9 ½ miles in each direction), which was rather steep for the last 1/3 of the climb as we ascended pemola peak, which is only a few yards below baxter peak and takes two days to hike up and back, our hike was fairly casual. the view from the top was quite spectacular despite our elevation of only around 5000 feet; the rest of the ground below us was only around 300 to 500 feet above sea level.

as with almost everything we did together, robin and i were very compatible hiking partner when it came to the climbing parts. robin was in far better shape than me having been a championship bodybuilder only a short time before we met. but, after my body started to get used to the increased expenditure of energy, i was able to keep up with her.

it was on the descent part of the hikes that we differed: robin loved to run down the mountains and hills while my weak ankles barely allowed me to walk down; i always had to tape them once we reached the top to keep from spraining one, or both.

because of the distance – about 19-miles total – and steepness of the climb, it was almost full-on dark by the time we returned to the parking area; long passed sunset. after what-passed-for dinner and a desert of home-made majoon, we left

our drive to moosehead lake was a mixture of exhaustion and euphoria as we headed back up the lumber road, which at night seemed even more narrow than when we were headed the other direction some 15-hours earlier.

at one point, we actually passed a car coming from the other direction. it was the first car we had seen on that road since we left the lake earlier that morning. as the car approached, the driver started flashing the car’s high beams.

as we pondered what that warning meant we rounded the corner to see a big bull moose right in the middle of the road; it was so tall i could have driven the little mazda under its body and between its front and rear legs.

the giant strode off into the woods like we weren’t even there.

a few miles later as we drove on into the tree-shrouded darkness i saw a flash that went from the upper right side of the road, just a few yards in front of us, to the lower left side and disappeared into the woods.

at the very same moment and in the very same tone, both robin and i said in startled-unison: “what the f*@% was that? a comet bird? did you just say: ‘what the f*@% was that? a comet bird?’” and started laughing until tears came to both of our eyes.

neither robin nor i had ever said such a thing before in our lives?

how did we both choose those same words, at the same nano-second and use the same inflection in our voices?

i can only attribute it to being on the same wavelength, which was quiet strong, indeed, but had never verbally reveled itself so prominently.

i have had many esp occurrences with many people, but i have never had such strong experiences as i have with robin.

we never did learn what the bright streak was.

but, have carried that story for the rest of our lives.

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