Clinic Stories

Not Dead Yet

Anxious to start hiking in the Spring, I watched the weather in Maine for weeks. The Winter of 2010-11 brought a lot of snow but by mid-May, after many weeks of warmish weather it looked from a distance that the snow should have melted. As I started out the day was warm and sunny without a trace of snow at the trail head. Gaining altitude, patches of snow were visible and the snow increased with the elevation. Ankle deep, then calf deep, then knee deep, the going got slower and more strenuous. The crust was unpredictable—one moment it was sturdy enough to walk on, then suddenly it would give way and I would drop, not knowing how deep until I stopped. Occasionally there were moose tracks that had broken the trail and made the going easier. I appreciated why moose have such long legs.

Climbing higher still I reached a point where I fell to my waist and used a tree to pull myself out. One boot was left in the bottom of the hole and I had to dig down to retrieve it. I decided to cut my hike short. I managed to make it to a shelter to spend the night, passing a ravine with a decaying moose that had fallen in during the Winter and was not able to scramble out. The shelter was in a lower area with excellent sun exposure and little snow. I checked the shelter register to see when the last hiker spent the night. Indeed, I was the first person foolish enough to attempt a hike that year. The last register entry was seven months earlier, in October, and it seems he was not encountering conditions any better than mine. He simply wrote, “Cold, wet, but not dead yet.” Three weeks later the trails were clear and the hiking was amazing.

Back to Top