Earlier this summer I sat in the beautifully warm sunshine on top of Tumbledown calming my mind and enjoying the presence of so much goodness around me; not just in that moment, but throughout all aspects of my life. It was a moment of pure gratitude and my friend, Jackie, captured the physical moment with her camera.
It was a couple days later when another friend who is making her way to Maine via the Appalachian Trail, shared this, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” Needless to say, my heart heard this message loud and clear.
It made me realize even more how I have been beyond blessed to be able to get out and enjoy time in the woods photographing friends and their children, trees that have been chewed by porcupines, as well as discovering just how strong I can be in both mind and body while hiking.
I have not been on the trails alone, as it’s much more enjoyable to share the experience with friends, and in many cases, friends’ children. As was the case with a recent hike up The Roost in the White Mountain National Forest.
Now, if you’ve never been to The Roost, it’s a great 2.25-mile loop perfect for kids and the beginner hiker. You can find the trail by traveling west on Route 2 into Gilead and take Route 113 on your left. The trailhead is just three miles in on your left and marked with a sign. If you reach Evans Brook Bridge, you’ve gone too far.
On this day, I was joined by Jennie-Mae and Asher and Sandy and Annelise. None of us had a clue to the excitement we were about to experience while hiking with these two curious kiddos.
Asher and Annelise set out as our leaders; following the trail markers and noticing the cool shape of a root ball from a fallen tree, the moss on the slippery rocks and two dead stumps that Annelise quickly dubbed the king and queen of the forest chairs. It was a delight to see them so excited to see what else lay ahead.
At the summit there was a short side trail down to the Lookout, where we sat on open ledge overlooking Route 113, taking some photos and having a snack while our leaders pretended to be turtles sunning themselves on the rock.
As we made our way back up to the main trail and continued on the loop, I let the four of them go ahead while I hung back to appreciate where I was. You see, the last time I hiked this trail I was unknowingly battling a ruptured appendix.
I sat there on a rock and listened to the birds, felt the breeze coming through the trees and found great appreciation for just how far I’ve come. My peaceful trance was suddenly broken by the sounds of shrieking up ahead.
Coming down the trail toward them, I could make out Annelise and Asher yelling, “We found a toad! Look at the toad! We found a toad,” as they struggled to keep it from jumping out of their reach. How awesome is that excitement!
We got some photos of the little guy and watched as Annelise squatted down to let him go and talk to him as he hopped away to the safety of the vegetation. So cute.
The rest of the hike was just as eventful as the kids set their shoes and socks aside for an almost icy cool wade in the brook, a search for indian cucumber and spotting piles of moose scat and strange looking fungus on dead trees. It was also a bit of an adventure getting across the last section of brook near an old brick and granite bridge foundation before meeting up with Route 113.
For the last half mile of the hike we walked the road back to the bridge, passing Hastings Campsite, taking more photos and the kids learned to walk like The Monkeys and sing the song, too. My gosh how they giggled at that!
Jennie-Mae helped us identify Yarrow on the sides of the road which is useful in first aid and Annelise found a big old worm in the middle of the road who needed to be carried safely to the ditch. Well done, Annelise.
We ended the day with a nice swim in Wild River and some cool underwater photos, and of course Asher and Annelise thought that was the best! I know these kids don’t realize it, but their excitement for the outdoors and their willingness to explore with their moms and me just warms my heart. It’s a joy to see them learning while enjoying themselves.
Please consider bringing your children or the neighbors’ children along for an outdoor adventure, both your lives will be blessed by the interaction.
If you would like to share one of your adventures for possible print in the Rumford Falls Times or would like to see your picture on our Facebook page, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.