Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Sound of Silence - AT Sect. 3 Part 1

Everyone knows the woods are where you get away from it all but this time my hiking buddy Tara and I were trying something new. We were bringing it all, kids, husbands, the whole shebang. Actually the husbands would catch up with us after they dropped a car off at Clarendon Gorge 14 miles north. We'd left them in the dusty parking lot and followed the children up the shady path. Eager to prove themselves the kids raced ahead.

I'd never been in the Green Mountain National Forest before. It didn't feel too different from the forests of Massachusetts. These woods were cozy, warm, peaceful and quiet - nothing like the intimidating grandeur of Washington, Wyoming, Colorado or even California.

I was greatly relieved and somewhat surprised at the gentle warmth of the day. Mind-baking, will-leaching heat can generally be depended upon in August in New England. We started out light, just two miles to get the kids warmed up then we’d pitch a tent at Little Rock Pond. They'd never been backpacking before. I was fully prepared to deal with miserable whining whelps but the kids were gone. They disappeared into an imaginary world of adventure and fantasy, blending seamlessly with the fern strewn surroundings.

Following the faint whispers and giggles ahead we arrived before we knew it. Little Rock Pond is not little. It is beautiful, crystal clear and simply irresistible. There was no choice. We had to swim. By “we” I mean me. My husband is rarely so fool hardy but some of the others were lured in by my example and we had frolicking fun, found crayfish and spied loons.

Loons are my favorite bird, simply for their name. “Is that a loon?" someone asked once when I was a teen. I knew loons existed and imagined them to be vaguely duck-like. That was the extent of my knowledge. I shrugged. My nonchalant expression belied a gentle tug at my heart as I thought, “The loon must be a crazy bird, just like me.” It was one of those melodramatic teen moments that scar you for life.

Shrouded in deep melancholic resonations from the past I stumbled up to our campsite to pitch the tent when I was rescued from my reverie by the scratchy baseline pumping out of a little boom box at the adjacent campsite. Like a teenager I was immediately filled to the brim with venomous roiling angst. I wanted peace and quiet! Who let the people with a different conception of fun in to play in my sandbox?!? Ok, maybe I was feeling like a toddler. Either way, I wasn’t happy.

I hadn’t expected to find quiet in the woods, hell I’d brought the whole family and then some, but I guess that didn’t mean I’d left all my expectations behind.

[Photo taken by Tara Schatz Aug 8th 2009 Little Rock Pond VT. This was the first day of our trip from Danby Rd to Clarendon Gorge VT. It was a 3 night trip and my third excursion onto the Appalachian Trail, an installment so to speak on my 30 year plan to slow-hike the whole thang.]


  1. Hi Annie,
    Yeah usually when we come across noisy campers next door, we'll go over and say hi, all neighborly like, and then eat their food. Serves them right.

  2. Funny you should mention food. We actually ate the food of the shockingly quiet and respectful teenage Outward Bound type boys. They didn't want to carry leftovers - score. The boom box guys probably didn't have any food for us to pillage at least not that I'd have wanted to eat. They might have had beer...

  3. Hi, Do you know your daughter wrote a chapter in her book about this first night of camping! Was this the night you had dried beans for dinner?

  4. Yep, that was the "burrito" night. The OB-type boys shared their fount of re-hydrated salsa with us.

  5. That sounds like a perfect experience to have with your family - good weather, lots of activities and happy memories.