Friday, January 7, 2011

Lost On a Not So Big Mountain in Maine

Remember Don Fendler? If you're from Maine there's a good chance he came to visit your 4th or 5th grade class to briefly talk about his being lost on Mount Katahdin. He wrote (probably dictated, actually) a book about his experience. All I can remember is he got separated somehow, and got a lot of bug bites. Well I'm going to tell you my story about getting lost on a different mountain in Maine. Mount Norumbega, which in my opinion sounds way more like some sort of futuristic robot than "Katahdin" and is therefore better. 

First let's get this out of the way. Technically a mountain has to be at least 2000 feet above sea level to qualify as a real mountain, so Mount Norumbega should actually have been called Large Hill Norumbega, but fuck that rule. If it's big enough to get lost on, it's a fucking mountain. 

Mt. Norumbega

Anyway, every summer since I was little, me and the fam would go on camping and hiking trips to Acadia National Park. My brother and I looked forward to the camping, the swimming, and the restaurants, but thought the hiking bits were miserable. We bitched and moaned so often it's a wonder our parents didn't just put us in a box and say "we'll be back in a couple of days". After several years, the two of us started wising up and realizing nature was actually pretty cool. This may have coincided with around the time we discovered drugs. I mean..what?

Ohh, I get it now.

But one year, Mike was off doing something else, meaning I didn't have someone to hang back and complain with this time. FORESHADOWING. 

I actually don't know why he didn't come. Maybe it was because I made that last part up and he never actually came around to hiking? Or maybe he had to work or something? I don't know, it was over ten years ago. Which reminds me

So my parents and I did the camping trip without his ass. We arrived at Mount Norumbega and figured out which trails we'd take. We'd head up the mountain one way, and then on the way down, we'd take a meandering trail around a pond and through the woods. Now, my parents like to hike at a leisurely pace, enjoying the peaceful sights and sounds, much in the way a hiker should. I on the other hand chose to Flash Gordon that shit. I would cruise through the trails like a missile, deftly avoiding branches and rocks like I was earning points for it.

We got to the summit, hung out and ate some lunch then headed back down. We got to the pond area, and I decided to just take the fuck off. I knew where I was going in the same way that dumb dogs know where they're going, which is to say, I didn't know where I was going. I guess I assumed when going through the trails that there would be a sign that read "Matt, go this way to get back to your car" at every fork. I was vaguely aware that there were SEVERAL trails through the woods, but didn't realize this meant there were several WRONG ways back until I took a few random turns and ended up on the road, with no parking lot in sight. Some people would assume that all those forks in the trails would lead to the same place. Stupid people for instance. Me, for instance. 

Thankfully this stupidity also allowed me the luxury of not panicking just yet. Where anyone else would think "Oh god where the fuck am I?" I simply thought "oh I'll just engage my perfect inner compass this time and I'll be fine." So I went back and took another fork. This trail led me back to the pond. Now I was confused. I went back to the fork, and took the final option. This led me to another fork with several more options. When I sprang ahead earlier, had my parents told me which trail I should take to get back to the car? I dunno, probably.

Here's a rough sketch of the area:

Bumbumbum...SUDDENLY! I remembered that little shack at one end of the pond. It was out in the open so I hiked back to it. No fuck that, walked. I walked back to it. I was pretty sure my parents would get to the car, notice I was absent, and go back to look for me, and the shack seemed like the best place to be. So I planned to stay there until I was found. That's what they say when you're lost right? Stay where you are? Well that old saying fails to mention that staying where you are is boring as shit. After what felt like hours but was probably more like fifteen minutes I started wondering what would happen if it got dark and I wasn't back, or something. Hmm, that doesn't make sense. It was about 4 pm, and it wouldn't be dark for hours. You know, thinking back I can't really rationalize what I ended up doing. I decided to go back the way I came. I started to hike back over the mountain. 

I felt like this was my greatest chance of success, and only later realized it was also the greatest chance of my parents shitting themselves in fear. Obviously they would come  looking for me, and I realize now that if I had just waited like a not impatient asshole, they would've found me, and everything would've been fine. But I felt I had some inner voice saying "betcha can't find your way back over the mountain dipshit" and to this I responded, "oh yeah?" And off I went, into the annals of retard-dom.

After not very long, I came to a fork, as you can see from my awesome map. And guess what? I couldn't remember where to go. This could've been a disaster. But too late, I was committed. So I took my best guess and picked a path. A few minutes later I saw things I was pretty sure looked familiar, but in retrospect I might've just been imagining that, cause all the trees looked pretty damn similar. I was hoofing it big time, so it wasn't very long before I got back to the summit. From here I knew exactly where to go, so I practically skipped the rest of the way down the mountain, feeling light as a feather. 
I started hearing cars again, and knew there wouldn't be another fork until right next to the parking lot, so I was home free. 

Now it's time for a lesson in the differences between men and women. Specifically mothers and fathers. When parents lose track of their son, the basic thought process for the father goes like this: 

Hmm, there must've been some miscommunication somewhere. Well, he's a capable person, he'll figure out what to do. We'll all just have to be patient and wait for this to sort itself out. 

Whereas for the mother, it goes like this:


I knew both of my parents would be fairly relieved, but expected my mom to be slightly more emotional. My dad's reaction was something like "Oh there he is." While my mom's was 

MATT!!!! *sobsobsobsob*

I don't know if I'll ever fully understand what that felt like until I have kids of my own someday. 

In the aftermath we retold stories, and tried to figure out how exactly my dad never found me when he came back through searching. I made up a story about how I kept going through different forks for awhile and only after a really long time did I find the right one. We must have just missed each other every time, because I definitely didn't climb back over the mountain. I figured it was in my best interests to avoid mentioning that, so they could maintain the illusion of having a son that wasn't a complete fucking idiot. 

God that was retarded.

1 comment:

  1. You may get close to understanding when you have kids some day, but only WOMEN with kids will REALLY understand. Haven't been on that mountain since; don't know if I ever will again...