A Pleasant Surprise 2
I awoke this morning full of energy and sprang out of bed (had to go you know). I started the day of right and had some breakfast. I saw that I was to head on a mission to find Pleasant Surprise 2 (where was Pleasant Surprise 1) located on where else but Pleasant Mountain. So I find all my gear and load up the Explorer. I made sure I had some snacks, water, a map, the gpsr unit, bug spray, and did I say water? I start to head out but immediately must stop and return to make sure of the safety of my hideout (I forgot the printout of the cache location). All safe and sound I head off towards my journey and on the way I encounter some obnoxious protesters on the side of the road (turkeys trying to cross the road). I slowly make my way through and despite my attempts to urge them on (I was yelling but they didn’t seem to care). So finally the mountain comes into view after my long journey (45 minutes or so) and the road to my destination is cleverly named to help me and only I find it (Mountain Road). I make the move and head down it with caution (it was bumpy). I drive and drive but see no other humans or even animals for that matter. Suddenly out of now where appears a gold car in my rearview mirror. So I floor it to give myself some distance from this unknown threat (I went from 15mph to 25 mph and boy was I bouncing around). Soon they were gone from my mirror and I headed to a decision as the road forked and the gpsr was not telling me which led to where I wanted to go!! So I looked at the gpsr and saw one road went over across the lake so I knew that was not it. The other was a dirt road and headed around the base of the mountain. Well, I guess that is the way to go right. What does a trail head look like anyway? Stupid city boy I yelled and turned towards the dirt road….. I drove and drove over the bumpy rutty dirt road and was thankful for 4 wheel drive as I went through some mud. I thought the road was becoming rougher and narrow at the same time. I didn’t see anyone else or even signs anyone else had been there in a long time. So I assumed that maybe this was the right way to a trail head. It was early spring after all. So who am I to say this isn’t the right way and I press onward in my journey despite the road (and my growing fears of getting stuck). Finally as the branches are encroaching the sides of my Explorer I look up just in time to see a little red sign posted on a tree. Ah the trail head I am thinking but then I get close enough to read it!!! OMG!!! I am on a snowmobile trail!!! And the last time I checked my Ford Explorer was not qualified to be a snowmobile. So now really confused I had to make a big decision that could alter my life (scratch the vehicle and have to explain it to the wife or not) from this point forward. Do I press forward or do I turn back, well couldn’t turn back, so do I back up till I get out of here. Well, after much thought and consideration (about two seconds) I begin to back up. Kind of odd backing up through mud and all of the stuff I just carefully drove thru in the first place. Well I eventually make my way back out of the snowmobile trail and notice a road I did not see off of this one but decide against it and just head back to the fork in the road where I turn around and head back up the road I came in on. I see a gold car off to the side of the road ahead and pull in behind it. I look across the road and hidden behind leaves is a sign that says “Ledges Trail”. Well, guess I know what a trail head looks like now!!! Man, do they really want you to find these signs? Or is this just some way for locals to watch the City boys like me go down snowmobile trails with vehicles to big for the job. There was probably a Cleatus type guy sitting in his wrecker waiting on me to call for help. He saw me as money but I was not caught in their trap. I found this trail head and now I was about to embark on the next leg of the journey to find a Pleasant Surprise 2.
So I grab my backpack and head across the road and head on what appears to be a simple trail like many I had traveled near the City. So ho hum away I go to get this mountain hike done and the cache logged. Off thru some mud and rocks I start to head upwards slowly. I can handle this with no problem. This is not even as bad as the treadmill a ¼ of the way up at the gym. I am feeling pretty damn good about my health and fitness. So onward I go and then I hear something……. My fight or flight response kicks in as I quickly back away from the direction of the noise….. two seconds later as I jump off the ground a chipmunk runs across the trail…. I am thinking wow he was running from something and maybe I should as well…. But there was no more noise. So why does a chipmunk make so much noise? Man, not sure but my knees where making noise now. I bent and grabbed some protection and headed back up the trail. Then a few minutes later I asked myself what the heck was I going to do with three stones? I didn’t have a slingshot to slay Goliath so what was I thinking? I could throw a rock at a bear and knock his butt silly? I used to pitch in HS but still probably not a solid plan and I didn’t need the extra few pounds to carry anyway. So dropped the stones and moved on again. The trail started to get a little steeper but no problems for me as of yet and I just kept motoring onward. I was thinking this is pretty darn easy and why had I not hiked up mountains before? Maybe I could do Everest or something!! I am the man!!! Then it happened…. A movement on the ground stopped me in my tracks. It was a SNAKE!!! Geez… where the heck am I!!! We don’t have all this crazy stuff in your path in the City. So I watch as it slithers off the path and realize this is Maine and we do not have poisonous snakes here. So I keep going and not 100 feet ahead I bump into another snake but this time I don’t even slow for him to pass. I just step over him and move onward with my new found bravery!! That’s right no snake is going to stop this big bad city boy!!! So onward and upward I go making my way towards the summit. About 15 minutes in and I am sweating pretty darn good now. I am thinking well that is cool as I need a little workout and I must be near the top anyway. So onward I go and the terrain starts to change and I pass one more snake which was a little bigger than the rest of them. Fifteen more minutes pass and now sweat is dripping from my brow and soaking my shirt under the backpack. They call it a camelback but it is more like a sauna and causes more water loss than you drink from it. So the trail is getting steeper and is changing from woods to smaller trees and more solid rock. On and on I press, now soaked and thinking that another little push and I will be there. I come to an opening and hear voices!!! I am not sure what the proper etiquette is for this situation. Do I announce my presence or cough or just keep going? I mean what if they are making a little mountain on the mountain? So I just walk being the city boy and to my surprise everyone is clothed and resting. It was the people from the gold car. They were in their 50’s and taking a break. I had caught them despite their big head start. So I was feeling pretty good but also kind of disappointed. The view was nice and all but was this the top? I talked with them for a bit and then found out there was more to go. Behind us was a grave stone. HHmm, not exactly comforting. Was this someone who could not make it to the top? We all started up the trail and I found out why I had caught them and why I was sweating more than they were as they seemed to have figured out a good pace to hike this mountain. I was running compared to their pace. I wasn’t sure what was better for me though, to savoir each step up or to get up the thing and be there already. I walked and talked with them for awhile but after two more small stops for a breather I decided to take it to the top my way. I picked up the pace and enjoyed the views as I moved quickly up the increasingly steep trail. Now it was basically shrubs and hard rock surface. I was now out of breath and a rest seemed wise but I pushed onward as I could sense the top. I pushed through any thoughts of stopping and made it to the top. I again was disappointed with the surroundings but kept walking. I came to an opening that took my breathe away!!! I could see what seemed like forever and ever. I had never seen anything like this my life except on TV. Wow…. And wow was all I could say. It was impressive. I sat and had a snack. It damn cold up there though and my sweat was more of an issue here than anywhere else. The wind was making me cold. The older couple came around the corner and took my picture for me. I talked with them about geocaching and decided to show them what it was all about. I mean heck..we both just hiked this beast and why not share geocaching with them as well. So off we went to find the cache. The gpsr kept leading us to a cliff like area and just seemed a little curious to me but low and behold the cache was where the gpsr told me it was in the first place. So we opened it up and I signed the log book. They asked questions and then we put it away. I enjoyed the views for a few more minutes and then we all started down the mountain. I was determined to go their pace on the way down and see if I could learn more about hiking. I did and did as we had nice conversation all the way down. And finally the bottom was there and the adventure over. I had made a hike up a mountain. I could cross it off of my list now and also had a cache to log too. The biggest thing though for me was the PLEASANT SURPRISE of a view on top. It made every drop of sweat and every twitch of fear worth the effort. I plan to go again soon.
Maybe next time I could find a Pleasant Surprise 1. Or some other surprise on another mountain.