I have pretty much restricted my writings to events of history or things of beauty, but a change of pace was in order when arriving at the Katahdin Shadows Campground. It has been my intention to find the beginning of the Appalachian Trail which is on top of Baxter Mountain, in the Baxter State Park, just northwest of Medway. A very healthy, determined and perhaps irrational person can walk this trail from the top of Baxter Mountain all the way to Georgia without much interruption. The route takes about four months. As we drove out to the park to record the head of the trail, our plans were dashed by a violent rainstorm, and the fact that we were informed it was a 10 hour hike to the summit and the rangers would not let anyone stay overnight on the trail in the park. We settled for finding a beautifully hand painted large rock along the way which proclaimed the greatness of Maine. Back at the trailer we were in for several days of hard rain. To our delight two of the "trail" hikers abandoned their trip in favor of a cabin which was next to us. Mark and Jessie James ( we did have fun with her name) joined us for dinner and some board games as we passed the night away. It was from them that I learned much about the "trail" and what it is like doing long distance hiking. The campground had added an interesting item to the grounds. Rabbits. Dozens and dozens of them, running everywhere, mooching food from anybody who would stand still long enough for them to jump up on your leg like a dog seeking praise. I would have liked to have had the concession in carrots in that park. As the rain passed I found myself sitting at the picnic table outside the trailer surveying the surrounding woods. The tundra there is like peat. It sounds hollow when it is struck, much like a muffled drum. I heard the rapid beating on the ground long before I saw the large black rabbit racing toward me in a shallow zigzag pattern. So fascinated was I, by the speed of this creature and the fact that it was on a collision course with me that I didn't look up until the huge hawk, wings set in a glide was less then a hundred feet from me coming on at full speed, about eye level. The rabbit was making a beeline to the underside of my trailer and the hawk was determined to beat him there. Their concentration was so intent that neither of them saw me. The rabbit scampered under the picnic table and on to the underside of the trailer. The hawk realized he was late and pulled up to go over the trailer. I ducked to the side as I felt the wind from his furiously beating wings rush by my face. In the last second before he was gone, our eyes met. I have never seen such cold, black, deadly looking eyes on anything living. It was over as fast as it had began. The hawk was gone and the rabbit was quietly munching on some grass underneath the trailer. I sat there for a while wondering if I had just witnessed all that I have described. It was a side of nature I was not quite used to yet. Still somewhat unsettled by the day's events, I retired for the evening. It was a dark muggy night, the windows were cracked to let in the mountain air. At 6:30AM I was awakened by a sound. It was one of the sounds you hear in your sleep and then lay there trying to decide what it was you had heard, or was it something in some forgotten dream. Before a decision could be made, it came again. Something bumped into a venetian blind in the living room. Not the sound of the wind rattling the shades, this was a loud collision as if someone had fallen into them. "There's someone in the trailer," I nudged Laura, as I made the choice of going for the Winchester 307 rifle or confronting the burglar head-on. She said nothing, but rolled over on her back beside me. There we lay, quietly listening and then the crashing sound of a blind struck with something solid. Laura positioned herself to retrieve the rifle as I hiked up my underwear and stomped forward into the living room. There in the middle of the floor stood the defiant culprit, not the least bashful about its sneaky deed. A large gray squirrel darted to the recliner then bounced off the blind in a futile attempt to escape out the window. Laura, who had joined me, flung the front door open, and in her best motherly voice announced "OUT", and the beast escaped into the woods. In the aftermath, an examination of the trailer revealed that in the dead of night with the stealth of a "cat burglar", this monster had jumped to the roof of the trailer from a nearby tree, the smell of a ripening apple on the kitchen sink, being too much to resist, he slid down the side and while hanging from the open window frame, sliced the soft screen with the precision of a switch blade, entered thorough the hole and had his fill of the apple. His attempts to exit through the glass windows covered by the blinds was the noise that had awakened me. The next morning, on our way to the hardware store with the sliced screen in hand we talked with the trailer park owner. "Yep," he said, "they're regular bandits. They learned to slice screens about a year ago, and now they're all doing it." On the way down the hill, we passed several of the cabins and noted the number of windows with duct tape on them. I had to smile, "Just another trying day at the office I suppose." I commented to Laura as we drove down the hill and out of the park.
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