Every path has a few puddles.
Up in New Hampshire where I lived for a while there are two conjoined ledges on top of a very high and sheer cliff. One is called Cathedral Ledge and the other White Horse Ledge. When you are standing on one you can easly see over to the other one. There is a road which goes up to Cathedral Ledge where one can park, get out, walk to the edge and enjoy the magnificent view.
During the Summer and Autumn months I used to do a lat of hiking on the trails and peaks of the area mountains, and one cloudy day I decided to take the trail up to White Horse Ledge. As it looked like it might rain I folded up a large rain parka and put it in my back pack along with a few other items. took my trusty walking staff which always went with me, parked my car by a lake near the foot of the trail and started up.
The begiinig of the trail was a hefty climb through forest. Then the trail became very treacherous, straight up for about 30 feet. Old roots sticking out of the cliff and an occasional chuck of rock were the only places to get a foot hold. Half way up that part of the trail it started to rain which made it een more treacherous. When I finally came out of that stretch I donned my rain parka and vowed to descend on the road and not try to return by way of the trail. The rain parka was hooded and large enough to fit over my back pack and still cover most of my body.
The last part of the trail went though a young forest, was a fairly easy climb and by then the rain had stopped. But almost to the end of it I heard a car door slam. That is a sound one doesn't expect hear when out hiking in the middle of a forest. But I knew it meant that I was near the end of my hike and White Horse Ledge was just ahead.
When I stepped out on the ledge I looked across and saw a young couple enjoying the view from Cathedral Ledge. I didn't want to startle them so I stood perfectly still and waited.
But the woman looked over and saw me. She gasped and grabbed the man's arm. Now picture me. A large black robe covering a back pack which made me look deformed, a gray beard jutting out from beneath a black hood which covered my face, standing perfectly still holding a five foot staff.
I was a ghost, an apparition, Jeremiah raised from the dead, the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come, the Mythical Rider of the White Horse, the Old Man Of The Mountain, a mystical being from the deep, dark forest, the Grim Reaper, Satan himself.
Whatever they thought I was they quickly got in their car and left. They were probably a nice couple form Massachusetts, tourists no doubt. I could have walked over and introduced myself but they were standing at the edge of a cliff and I didn't want to scare them. I scared them anyway, just being there. They probably still talk now and then about the strange spectre they saw one cloudy day in the mountains of New Hampshire.
DB - The Vagabond
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