Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Climb

I've never been known to be athletic, I'm not the sporty type. In high school on gym days I would purposely forget my gym clothes so I didn't have to partake in the gym activity, especially when we had to run a mile, I would attempt (only because I was made to) but wouldn't even make it half way around the track without wheezing, coughing and I always finished last because I walked it, the whole way. So, when a close friend asked us to climb Mt. Katahdin with them, you can imagine my quick 'No Way' answer. But after some persistence, in other words I kept getting harassed, I had to give in.

So there I was at 3 o'clock in the morning, er check that, middle of the night, riding in a van full of red necks on our way north. When my alarm clock when off at 2 A-M my first thought was "WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!" I had lots of different feelings about this climb at this point. I was very nervous, honestly I kept thinking "I could die today." Especially after this happened just a few weeks prior. I was excited to be able to experience this my uncle Tommy, he's one of the funniest people I know and I knew he was going to make it just that much more enjoyable; with Darric, although I was nervous about him not making it because he's really not in the best of shape, I still was syked to make this memorable event with him and I knew it could only make us closer; and with our close friend Mike, he's done the hike a couple times before so he was our leader and I knew he'd keep a close eye on everyone.

It wasn't until about a month before that I really started getting anxious. I spent one night watching YouTube videos of Knife's edge and searching how-to's on climbing a mountain. Then the next couple of weeks doing 100 - 120 stair climbs to try and prepare myself.

We arrived at the gate around 4:30am and was the third car in line. What we didn't know was that starting this year you had to register before hand. Deciding to take a chance we then had to sit and wait until 7:30am to see if there were any no-shows. Because it was going to be a late start we wanted to pick the shortest trail, so at 7:30 on the dot the ranger came to tell us the news. And then we were headed for the start of the Abol trail.
It was brisk, especially for a morning in July, but about an hour into the hike I was shedding my sweatshirt and my hair was up in my hat. Early on the trail wasn't like I expected, there was a lot of climbing around rocks and tree roots, I don't know why but I pictured it to be more smooth. Then I could tell when the hike started upward. I was becoming winded and the most annoying part was the sweating and not feeling like I could drink enough water to cool me off.
When we got to the point of being as tall as the trees we got passed by a Canadian gentleman who was probably in his 50's and he told us it was his 7Th trip up the mountain...this year. The view behind us was getting amazing and I couldn't stop myself from taking picture breaks.We stopped to break for some trail mix on this huge flat rock and I can remember Mike saying "this is the last flat point for awhile." He wasn't kidding. Things were getting more vertical, rocks were getting larger and it didn't feel like we were getting any closer. We had been passed by a lot of people. One women who was in her 60's and wearing make-up may I add, trucked right along with the rest of them. I felt the most embarrassed when the 9 year old, who was with her family from Lisbon, Maine passed us. That little girl was kicking that mountain's ass and the mountain was kicking mine. My legs were feeling very tired, I'd rest, but the relief would only last seconds. And this is when I knew what they meant when they said I'd have to push myself."Climmmb Every Mountain....." I know the guys were getting sick of hearing me sing this, but it was my payback for listening to their hunting stories on the drive up. At one point I looked over at Tommy and he looked so cool reaching from one boulder to another. "I'm climbing a friggin' Mountain! " I yelled out. I couldn't believe where I was, what I was doing. We weren't even at the top yet, but the views that we were seeing and the land that we had covered so far was feeling satisfactory enough to me. I couldn't imagine it getting any better.
"Unreal!" "Wicked Unreal!" I can still hear Tommy saying this as he looked behind us and as he was looking ahead of us. I was ready to give up. Mike kept saying we're almost there, we're almost there. In my head I was saying "yeah you said that already awhile ago." The rocks were so huge at this point and I spent every step thinking over where to step and grab next. There were a lot of points that the guys would have to help me out. Darric would pull me up while Mike was below me pushing me up. I couldn't imagine how the 9 year old had made it past some points. And it also kept occurring to me that I was going to have to go back down this thing and it was not looking enjoyable.
The journey ahead of us wasn't looking so far away anymore. In fact we couldn't see much ahead of us because the rocks were so enormous that it was hard to tell what was just above that rock. The make-up wearing lady was on her way back down, but she explained that she turned around before she got to the top and said the others she was with didn't want to push themselves too far. I wanted to join them, but they reassured me that the top of abol was 'right there.' We had been told that once you get to the top of Abol you walk across the plateau before you head to the actual summit.

Mike and Darric were in front of me at this point, I was pushing with all my might and then we crested the top of Abol. I was speechless and tears weld up in my eyes. It was one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen.
Pictures do not do it justice.

Then I was ready to summit. It was like I got a second wind, now that I could see the top, and now that we weren't at a complete vertical incline it wasn't so difficult. We started across the plateau.

Have you ever had your legs feel like rubber, like they could bend every way possible? As we started cresting to the summit this is how my legs were feeling. My second wind had wore off. The traffic coming down from the top was getting more and more busy and I was beginning to get worried that we were running late. "Another hour and you'll be there" one guy said, he was from Montreal. An hour seemed like such a long time, considering I could see where we needed to be.

We stepped from one rock to another, this young kid from Presque Isle who was on his way down forgot his hat and ran back up to get it and then back down past us...I didn't like that kid.
And then we made it....SUMMIT!!!!!!!
I was so friggin proud of myself, I could now say that I climbed a mountain. I couldn't run a mile, but I climbed Mount Katahdin.
We stayed up there for about an hour. Ate our Peanut Butter sandwiches, took pictures, some took naps......yeah, only my husband could take a nap on the side of a mountain.
I myself couldn't take my eyes off of Knife's edge. It freaked me out just looking at it and I was happy and thankful with the trail we decided to take considering it didn't involve that.

And then it was time to head down. I was excited to be headed the other way, but my legs didn't want to do it. The rubber was turning into Jello and I was dreading every minute ahead of me. Once we made it back across the plateau and started down the Abol Slide, slide is what I did and my butt was taking the brunt of it. This is when I was the most scared. I felt that I could fall so easily. The guys had to take turns carrying down my pack as I was so freaked out. This part was not fun...at all. It was straight down and the gravel on the rocks was making like water on ice. Every so often a good size rock would fall and we would duck as to not get smacked in the head. The thoughts going through my head "Please God, keep us safe. Please God, keep us safe. Please God, keep us safe." Four and a half hours later we had finally made it. I had never been so happy to be in a vehicle. We all shedded our boots and I'm sure you can imagine the smell that was in that van. We made a quick stop at a store and you should have seen the look I got from a lady as I walked around the van. Holy crap I was some sore, and I was for about 3 days later.I did it, I climbed a mountain. On that day if you would've asked me if I would do it again I would have said not anytime soon. Now a couple months later I'm happy to tell you that we've already got next years scheduled.

1 comment:

thefinestkind said...

Sam! That's awesome!!! I would say I couldn't do it, but maybe someday...you sure are an inspiration!