“Phalanx of spruces, branches interlocked, open invitation…”

Usual trails were not enough this year,
Familiar footfalls on root and stone,
Predictable rambling up and down,
Following splash of red paint, word-
Weathered signs, break for water, few
Photos. I’d been here before, as had
Dozen others, talking, rustling up
Ahead, occasional bit of trash, lost
Water bottle lid, day-hikers following
Marked routes, out and back again.

Venturing from marked trails was like
Stumbling into oblivion, swallowed
Whole by dark forests, lichen covered
Rocks, storm-fallen trees, arduous
Climbs, pained progress. Today, wind
Spoke to me, “Come, this way, through
Here.” Phalanx of spruces, branches
Interlocked, open invitation. Walking
Stick in hand, I pushed off trail, Actaeon
Naiveté, I knew not what to expect.

Narrow, sun-lost path emerged, earth
Spirits speaking, winding upward, old
Logs overgrown with moss, communing
Ancient forest, I was alone, by myself.
What do hikers do? I scramble up rocky
Slopes, no red-marked guiding signs,
Timeless sights to behold: verdant ferns
Spreading in filtered sunlight, noisy
Brook ignored now appreciated, restive
Cooling sips, soul’s meditative moments.

Steadily climbing, gnarled roots, sharp
Rocks, opening sky ahead, cerulean blue,
Warming sun, unfolding hilltop meadow,
Wind-waving grass, deer jumping at my
Feet, sun-basking amongst wild flowers,
Bees buzzing, photos taken, twists and
Turns awaiting, shortcut taken or long
Way around, rope used up hard ascents,
Clifftop panoramic vistas, Bay of Fundy,
Heights of Ashburton Head.

Click here for more on Grand Manan, NB and hiking Ashburton Head.
Thanks for reading.

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