Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fearful (08/23/07)
TITLE: THE TERRIBLE SIDE OF AWESOME
By Darlene Casino
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Here we were in the White Mountains of New Hampshire: three adults and a group of ten teenage, co-ed scouts, all stuffed into my husband’s capped, pickup truck. As their ‘Leader’, He had determined that a day in the great outdoors was in order.
Our first destination was a tourist site called the ‘Lemon Squeeze’.
After a brisk walk through the woods, along mountain creeks we arrived at the caves. A guide pointed out that before we entered the caves, we should walk behind the ladder. If one could do so without moving the ladder, then the ‘Squeeze’ would present no problem. Passing the test, (being thankful for a recent weight loss) we proceeded through the cave single file.
The scouts were first, then the adults, with me bringing up the rear.
In the dimly lit tunnel, I saw a wall of rock with a hole at floor level. We were told to lay on our backs, and feet first, we were to wiggle our bodies through the opening.
When I was chest deep, I stopped wiggling. I was laying on my back with a mountain rising up over me! Another thought quickly followed: what if the ‘ladder test’ wasn’t really dependable…and I got stuck? Someone was calling my name and encouraging me to keep moving. I took several deep breaths and realized two things; the smooth surface encompassing my body was much closer to my flesh than I expected and I was perspiring profusely! This was proving very scary!
While I was composing myself in the seclusion of a rest room stall, a vote was taken, and it was decided that we were going to drive the auto road up Mt. Washington.
I felt better when we arrived at the base, to find we could be transported up the mountain in tourist vans with experienced drivers. But ‘Mr. C.’ would never disappoint his scouts, no matter how hard I grabbed his thigh, and they wanted him to drive.
The road up the mountain was about 1 1/2 vehicle widths wide and marked with signs instructing drivers in the use of brakes. Not long into our ascent, it became clear the tourist vans were always the ‘one vehicle’, as the opposing vehicle clung to the edge of the road.
After awhile, the forest on either side of the road began to thin out until finally, they were gone…no trees! The land on either side of the road was also disappearing. All around us were mountains. By now my heart was beginning to race, and perspiration was dripping from my face. My claw hold had moved from his thigh to his arm. From the back of the truck came screams of excitement and delight.
We continued upward and for a brief moment in time, the road disappeared and we seemed to be suspended in space…no land in sight! Just as my breath returned, I noted a lookout spot with people taking pictures. The road then took a 45- degree turn upward and soon reached a spot where some cars were parked. Many signs indicated that the weather station and peak was one mile ahead.
“Pull over and stop” I said firmly. “We haven’t reached the peak,” He responded. “We’ve got to go to the top.” “You guys are scouts…hike the rest of the way.” I retorted.
I watched the group head up the mountain. By now my feet were firmly planted on terra firma and I was pacing the parking lot. The thought occurred to me to walk down to the photo observation point on the hairpin curve just below. My feet were certainly more dependable than brakes, and they could pick me up down there.
Arriving at my destination without any difficulty, I looked out at the scene before me. All around and below me were a range of mountain tips. And there were clouds. Truly, this was a majestic view. It was then that I noted a large boulder with writing across its face. Some inspired observer had written: “This is God’s country.”
My heart responded, “Yes God this is your country and you can keep it!” I began the decent on foot.
I learned two things about myself that weekend: I don’t like mountains resting on my chest and driving up mountains. Nor was I an Explorer Scout!!
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