Yesterday I decided to hike out to Angel Falls which is located in a remote area about a mile off an old railroad bed called the Bemis Track. The Bemis track is barely passable as a road in the summer and in the winter only serves snowmobilers traveling the wild country between Lake Mooselookmeguntic and the Tumbledown region. It's a good place to be alone.
I parked my car just off Route 17 and changed into my hiking boots, adjusting my backpack with the snowshoes strapped to the outside. I knew that I would need the snowshoes for the mile hike from the Bemis track to the falls, but thought the track would be packed down enough by snowmobilers that I might be able to cover the four miles to the trailhead faster in my bare boots.
Everything was so quiet--no birds, no wind, no sound of rushing water from the brook that paralleled the trail. The rushing water was buried deep beneath many feet of ice and as I looked off the trail at the book, I could only imagine its course by the buried mounds of boulders.
So, off I went, leaving the car at 11 a.m. It's hard to judge distance along the track and with the late start, I decided that if I was not to the trailhead by 1 p.m., I would turn around. Charlie was at a ski race and would not be home to notice that I was missing until close to dark--late to mount a rescue effort--and the bargain I have struck with the ones who love me is that they won't complain about me hiking alone if I exercise extreme caution.
It was hard walking, slightly uphill at a railroad grade and the snow was not as hard packed as I had imagined it would be. My feet sank in about 2 inches with each step and by 12 when I stopped to find the trailmix in my pack and to drink some water, I was really getting tired. I munched the trail mix and kept walking wondering if maybe I should put on my snowshoes. Just before 1 p.m., I saw a big boulder up the road a ways and decided to walk to the boulder and then decide what to do. I made it to the boulder and decided to put my snowshoes on and turn around.
As I was putting on my snowshoes, I heard the roar of snowmobiles that soon materialized coming from the direction of Mooselookmeguntic. The leader pulled up beside me and looked for all the world like he had just driven off the pages of an L. L. Bean catalogue with his green wool Maine guide jacket and handsome chiseled features. The people on the many sleds behind him had the look of eager weekend visitors who had paid him for a snowmobile adventure. He asked me if I was safe and I said yes. I asked him how far to the trailhead since he had just come from that direction and he said about 1/2 mile but suggested that I turn around as it was getting late and cold. I agreed. He patted the back of his sled and told me to hop on. I was tempted--tired and facing 2 hours back to my car--but I shook my head, assured him that I was fine and sent them on their way.
Before heading back I took out my camera and took one picture before the battery died. Kind of a weird day--no goals realized but I am a firm believer that in life it is the process not the product that matters. I had a wonderful day breathing fresh air, exercising my body, remembering all the other hikes to Angel Falls and casting my cares off into the snowy world.