Crack! The sound of thunder brought me to my senses, standing at the peak of the second highest mountain in the northeast. Cadillac Mountain was shrouded by heavy white clouds, illuminated only by the trickle of afternoon sunlight and the promise of rain. The slim outline of my father was obscured by thick fog. I stood alone.
It was an afternoon in early August that brought my family hiking. Every summer we vacation in Acadia National Park; biking the Carriage Roads, hiking the Loop trails, and swimming at Sand Beach, to us, is the highest form of recreation. Mount Desert Island is so jam packed with natural beauty that being in its presence is quite humbling.
Which was why I was both shocked and frightened to find myself alone, at the summit of Cadillac Mountain trail in the middle of a thunderstorm. “Dad, where are you, did you hear that?!” I called frantically. In my seventeen years of life I had yet to see fog as dense as the clouds I peered through. Panic set in. I reached my wrist up to my face to check my watch, and was shocked to see only the visible outline a limb that no longer felt attached to me. I may have been on top of the world, overlooking the most picturesque harbor, the lushest greenery, and the most peaceful town, but I had never felt more alone in such a beautiful world.
At this time, a light rain had started to fall over the mountain. In my state of fear, I visualized the blue paint from the trail markers dripping slowly off the eroded rocks. But I shook this thought from my mind. It would not help me find my father, it would not help me find the trail, and it would not stop the thunderstorm.
With this clarity of mind, I hitched my backpack over my head to block out the rain, and slowly but surely I walked back the way I came. I had blazed a new trail in search of new horizons, yet it was my father’s absent minded humming and a clear sky that I now searched for. The squish of my sodden hiking shoes was drowned out by the close clap of thunder. Squelch! Crack! Squelch! I longed for a blue trail marker, a rock cairn, or any taste of familiarity on this colossal mountain.
After an eternity of what felt like vertical swimming, the fog lifted, revealing a sight for the sorest eyes in the northeast; 100 yards away, my father’s bright yellow backpack, sitting comfortably on his visibly unbothered face. I had heard stories about the Precipice Trail; that its narrow cliffed paths and dangerous overpasses classified it as one of the more “black diamond” esque trails. But I knew it would provide the most beautiful view, and maybe that appeal was worth the risk.
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