Tunk Mountain - Hike #6
The forest is a foreign habitat, one in which I'm ill-equipped to survive; yet it beckons me to enter into its eery silence. As I cross the threshold of Tunk Mountain trailhead, the only sound I hear is the stamping of my own feet along a pine scented path. Blue blazes sporadically sprayed on tree trunks guide me through a woods where everything looks the same. The darkness of the forest is offset by sunbeams that flicker through tiny gaps in a thick leaf-covered canopy. Feeling vulnerable to the elements, I hike onward toward the mountain's ridge. Each half mile offers new challenges: rocks to climb over, roots threaded across the trail trying to trip me, a steeper and steeper incline as I approach the mountaintop. The most difficult obstacle is a primitive ladder made from three iron rungs sticking out of the rock face, and made for legs much longer than mine. Somehow, I haul my body up the ladder only to encounter a wedge where two boulders intersect. Almost there, I push myself upward and scale the wedge. When I step onto the ridge, I can see for miles. I'm above thousands of acres of emerald forests. The outlines of ponds and lakes are the only opening in this tree-covered land. Way off, along the distant horizon, I can see the ocean.
I sit on a boulder to catch my breath and rest my legs, absorbing the beauty and inhaling pure air as it skips across the summit. The sun, concealed by trees along the trail, gleams from a clear blue sky. I look around me, thrilled by the wonder of nature, in awe of the One who created it.