We are back to Arkansas- the twins successfully retrieved.
We arrived at the designated camp site at Baxter State Park on July 28th... and before too long, here came our intrepid duo! They delayed their summit until Wednesday, when Tom endeavored to accompany them.
Summiting was never on my horizon. I planned to make Katahdin Falls, then return to camp. Bright and early on Wednesday the 29th, we four set forth. The guys being much faster hikers than myself soon left me behind. I strolled up the trail, having most of the day to make the 1.2 miles to the falls. Upon reaching what I THOUGHT was Katahdin Falls, I discovered my new camera had not held a battery charge... it was dead as could be! GRRRR! I visited "The Last Privy on The Trail", sat at the Falls awhile, and headed back down the Trail towards camp. I was swimming against the current... meeting well over a hundred hikers hoping to summit Katahdin! Elderly people, fat people, small children (even though the rules say you must be older than 6 to climb above treeline!), a blind lady, a couple of people using canes...
Heck, was I just a wimp? The log in sheet at the trailhead was up to six pages long when I reached it going back... and most were GROUPS, using one line sign in for all.
I puttered around camp awhile, hiked back into the unsullied woods behind our camp site. I walked the camp area, explored the stream. Charged my camera, took pictures, passed out goodies (Little Debbie treats) to hikers... until about 11:00 am. That was about the time we had figured I should leave to drive to the opposite side of the mountain and meet the boys.
The official guide says it is NOT recommended to try to summit Katahdin, hike the Knife's Edge, and try to return to Katahdin Stream campground in one day. Simply takes too much time. As it turned out, the advice was for weekend hikers... but we didn't know that. The drive around the mountain did, indeed, take a full 90 minutes to cover the 16 miles.
I was waiting when Dan and Sam appeared... and Sam told me that as he was brag calling/ texting family and friends from atop Katahdin (one of the few places in Baxter that actually has cell reception!) that Becky called to say Gma Arlene (Tom's mom) was in the hospital after having suffered a heart attack. This was ALL we knew. We found one DOT of cell coverage as we drove back towards camp at Katahdin Stream campground, and spoke to Tom's brother. Arlene was doing well after three stents had been placed in the blood flow to her heart. We lost contact almost immediately.
As it had turned out... Katahdin IS a tough climb. Tom had turned back without making the summit. I had already left to drive around the mountain before he got back to camp. (Very few of those who had headed to the summit actually made it!)
We told him about his Mom, and as ready as he was to break camp and head to her side, we figured it would be better to wait until morning to do so. Camp was paid for, and we were settled in. Breaking camp and leaving would of had four exhausted travelers forced to find shelter soon after hitting the road, had we left.
Tom asked me about the Falls... and as it turned out, I hadn't made it to them! They were another short climb around the hill from where I had been. My camera freshly charged... I did the hike up the mountain again. Once more, I was going against the flow. All those hikers who had been hopefully trying to summit were headed down.
The spot where I had been that morning was full of mostly nude Swedish hikers splashing about in the ICY stream! I wended my way past and got to see the Falls! Not wanting it to be a hike "just for the pictures"... I sat and enjoyed the solitude of the Falls for awhile before heading back to camp. The Swedes were dressing as I came back past. They passed me by as I strolled back down the trail.
The next day, we broke camp and headed to Ohio. We drove until late that night, and then slept a few hours. A second day of driving put us to Tom's Mom's house just before dark. She had beaten us there by an hour or less.
We spent the rest of our Ohio time doing "Sonny-do" chores and just relaxing as best we could.
Arriving home some 10 days later... the first thing we see- our porch is gone!
Whoever stole it replaced it with a nice new one. Going inside, we had turned down the AC to 90 before we left. It was marginally cooler than the 97* temperatures at 8:00 pm outside. After unloading, I was setting to work to prepare supper. Opening the freezer... GACK! *GAG*... The refrigerator had gone out on us while we were gone. Everything was spoiled. It was running- feebly blowing tepid air across the ruined food. A formerly frosty mug fell out when Tom opened the door to ascertain my claim to the spoilage was accurate... shattering all over the tile floor and cutting his foot. Sam cleaned out the rotted foods, Dan cleaned up broken glass, while I tended Tom's foot. Then Tom and Sam went to town for something to feed us all... and Daniel worked on alleviating the visual stress associated with returning from a long trip.
Monday was errands: Returning the rental car. Buying regular groceries. Alerting the landlord to the broken refrigerator. Contacting prospective employers for Sam.
Results: We learned the new porch is phase one of house overhauls. The owners are once again putting the house on the market. (Their offer to us wasn't even in the same ballpark as what Tom expected, much less anywhere near the same page!)
Sam was put to work the very next day, with his new employers setting up his schooling as well as paying for it. Daniel and I went to Texas and retrieved the dog.
Jaffa was so glad to see us... he made sure we couldn't leave without him. We TRIED to get out of the house and keep him inside, just to see if it were possible. It was not.
So, here we are... back to Arkansas. Expecting Ben and Paula this weekend! July and August have been quite busy.
Thanks for reading!