Emma on The Horn
Saddleback 4120' and The Horn 4041'
Gray Ghost and Tri-color Ski Trails/AT
Approximately 8 miles Elevation gain 3000' +/-
Joey, Steve, Kevin, Judy and Emma
It's been a long, hot summer and I haven't got away much. My mom's health has continued to fail, and caring for her had become a 24/7 job. After a week of soul searching which included watching mom decline rapidly and stop eating, a couple of visits to the ER, and many discussions with her doctor and other care-takers, I made the decision I had been trying to avoid. I wanted mom to die at home in her own bed like my father had done, not in some cold, sterile room with tubes sticking out of her, but it just wasn't to be.
The decision to move her to a nursing home after her hospital stay was made. After another week which saw her improve with the proper care, care I could not provide at home, it was decided she would move at the beginning of the week to Rockingham County Nursing Home in Brentwood, about 10 miles from our home. I finally had a weekend off, and I could get away with Judy and her family to a place we love, the western lakes and mountains region of Maine, specifically Mooselookmeguntic Lake in Rangeley.
View from our campsite
Judy's sister married a guy gracious enough to share his favorite place with us and over the years we have grown nearly as fond of it as he is. His dad bought a camp on the shores of Mooselookmeguntic back when things like that were affordable. The camp has evolved into a year-round home that his folks had spent their summers at for years of happy retirement, but like my mom, they are winding down their lives as well, and will spend less time there as they get older.
The camp was full this time as both of Judy's twin sisters and their husbands were along, as well as a nephew. We had meals and games in the camp, but Judy, Emma and I slept in our backpacking tent on a platform near the water for the weekend. I had to remember how to relax, but it came to me after awhile. As we always do, we ate like kings while we were there, we shared some drinks and some stories and really enjoyed ourselves for the entire weekend. The thought of mom lying in a hospital bed all alone and waiting to die was a constant picture in my mind, but I told myself over and over what she would have said, "You go. I'll be fine. You can show me your pictures when you come back."
Saturday morning we did a little kayaking, then took a ride in the motorboat around the lake. An eighteen mile long lake on a holiday weekend, and we're practically the only ones out there! I always love being on water because it also means vast views of the sky, and I could not keep my gaze (or camera) away from the ever-changing shapes and formations of the tumbling clouds which filled the sky all weekend. Just being outside and seeing the land, water and sky has an amazing rejuvenating effect on me. All the water that has been passing under the bridge these past weeks is washed away, and I begin to feel I can face the next torrent.
Off to The Horn
That afternoon we hiked to Angel Falls. It was perfect timing. The night before had brought an inch of rain, and the falls were flowing as well as I had ever seen them. The afternoon sun was shining right down over the top of the falls and lit the spray as it drifted down to the rocks below. Maine's tallest waterfall in all its glory, so glad we made the hike in to see it! We returned to the camp and again ate like kings before spending the rest of the night around the campfire with more stories and drinks.
Lunch on The Horn
Sunday morning we climbed Saddleback from the Base Lodge at the ski area, and continued along the ridge north to The Horn. Amazingly quick way to the summit up the Gray Ghost and Tri-color ski trails, then along the ridge to the summit. Again on Sunday the skies were just amazing everywhere you looked. There was a definite fall crispness to the air and we hiked in a 20-25mph breeze along the ridge. There were a few gusts that were strong enough to buffet my 210lb frame around a bit and I was a bit concerned for the other, lighter members of our party, especially 23lb Emma! Well, she hasn't blown off a mountain yet...
Showers over Rangeley
Judy Emma and I had climbed Saddleback years ago along the AT approach from the south, but our partners hadn't and none of us had been to The Horn before. So, it was a new route to Saddleback, and then new territory from Saddleback to The Horn. New territory is always a good thing! Despite the cool breeze, the skies and views were astounding! On The Horn we heard the inevitable, "Is that Emma?" question and met a nice couple who recognized her from various trip reports and were familiar with my Ghostflowers website. Always nice to meet folks on the trail that feel like they already know you!
What a day!
Back at the camp once again, we had another mega-meal, more libations, some cribbage and more sittin' around the campfire. Monday morning dawned bright and beautiful and we headed out on the lake again, this time for a trip up to the dam that separates Mooselookmeguntic from Upper Richardson Lake. Amazing skies and views along the way. We took a short walk before heading back to break camp. Always sad that the time there is so short, but also very happy that we continue to get the chance to visit! We got home and I went straight to the business of getting mom settled at Rockingham. A lot easier now, with a renewed spirit!
Full set of pics HERE: