MT MOOSILAUKE, NEW HAMPSHIRE [7/25/2015]
The mountain breathed and pulsated like a planet. Hovering and stirring all sorts of trouble with the atmosphere: cultivating tufts of clouds that generated thick energy. It veiled us in the crisp air of its beauty. I felt like an astronaut. The pull of the path beguiled us from the reality that we were completely lost.
We were supposed to be hiking up the mountain, 4, 200 ft up exactly. Instead, we ended up hiking 6 miles into the dense woods of the valley—around the mountain. We missed the trailhead and still arrived at our destination: a road hella less traveled.
It all started from the main path. The main path—a brisk patch—stretches wide enough for construction trucks and all eager-spirited travellers. The main path—hotter, buggier—becomes completely covered in a mass birch tree grave. We trudge through the rotten path. The fallen trees snap with every twig-cracking step for a mile.
Another hour floated by as the path greened again. According to a hiker we consulted at the gate of the path, a sign for our trailhead sat a mile from the start. We never saw the sign for Mount Moosilauke until our “descent” from the woods. It was facing the opposite direction, tucked in the brush.
We became encapsulated in the birches and moss. Breathing felt like drinking water from a fresh stream; the immense look to the left or right had the spatiality of an intimate room. We kept our heads low, jumping in each other’s footing, not questioning (at least aloud) the flat path onto the mountain. The air unclogged the thick Allston humidity from my lungs. A deep breath was a head dive. After crossing our first brook I put the camera away, embracing being alone in my head.
I thought about never climbing a mountain before—and how Mount Moosilauke wasn’t going to be my first.
I thought about how mountains are like humidifiers for the Earth.
I thought about my grandmother and if she was thinking of me.
I thought about being a college graduate and the supposed immediacy of future.
An hour passed before I landed back on earth [and out of my cranium]. We all loudly agreed that we were most definitely not on the mountain. Our flash of humility deepened when we ran into the hikers we spoke with back at the main path. They pulled out their pocket map and pointed our location.
It’s about 9 hours of a hike up to the mountain from where we are, he told us. I’m sure you didn’t pack enough food. My advice would be to just turn around and walk back to the main road.
He spooked us. The last thing I desire is to be featured on the Blair Witch Project.
After quiet shrugs, we reversed our tracks into the thick of the woods. We hopped on pebbles over trickier streams and ran our fingertips through the moss. The main path—golden hour green—led us to the company of two hikers and their glowing golden retriever. As the dog led us through the fallen birch trees, the NH natives informed us that it was the destruction of Hurricane Irene. We followed the golden retriever over the birch tree grave. We ignored our bug halos and sauntered back to the car with smiles and bug bites.
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