Hiking Up Douglas Mountain

Getting to the mountain

Days off together are a precious commodity for Nick and I, since he works retail and I have a 9-5:30 job during the week. We never know when we might get a day together, so we try to take advantage when it happens. Yesterday was just such a Sunday. We slept in together, and headed up to Douglas Mountain in Sebago after we stopped off at DD so I could get my coffee.

The drive up to Sebago
The drive up to Sebago

The drive up was cloudy at the outset. Nick said that even if it didn’t get brighter or warmer, the view would still be worth it. He has already hiked to the top of Douglas Mountain a few times. The sun came out as we ventured further north and wound around the lake. We took Route 114 North up through Sebago to Douglas Mountain Road, past picturesque farms and bright green hills. The Maine countryside looked fresh from numerous April rainstorms. We saw no more signs of winter.

Peaceful green Maine countryside
Peaceful green Maine countryside

We arrived at the parking lot around 12pm, and prepared our backpacks with water and some snacks. This time of year the forest is busy composting millions of leaves, and recent rainwater helps to turn everything into a useful mulch. So we started out carefully, stepping around the thick mud and ankle-deep puddles at the bottom of the hill.

Nicholas climbs Douglas Mountain
Nicholas climbs Douglas Mountain

The hike out to the peak and back, using the Eagle Scout Nature Trail (map here), is about 3 miles. Both of us had brought our Apple Watches, but we forgot to “start” the hike digitally at first, so we both ended up tracking 2.65 miles there and back. Though muddy and full of many puddles that looked like mass mosquito nurseries, the trail up the mountain was gradual and provided many rocks and roots to step on during the climb. It was steep enough that I had to catch my breath a couple times on the way up.

 

At the summit

The 16-foot stone tower at the summit was originally named for Dr. William Blackman, a surgeon who had purchased the area in 1892 and built the structure himself. Later it was purchased by a nature conservancy organization, and given to the town of Sebago for all to enjoy. Thanks to Dr. Blackman and the kind hikers who passed before us, we made it to the summit.

A bridge over the Eagle Scout trail
A bridge over the Eagle Scout trail

By the time we reached the Blackman Tower, the sun had come out and the sky was a rich blue. It was gorgeous. We spent some time atop the tower, hanging out together under wide skies. We looked out at Maine, and west to New Hampshire. There was a sign which showed the different distances to at least 20 different hills, ponds, and mountains all around. It said the tower looked out over several hundred square miles. Nick said the sign was new to him, though he’d been here a few times last summer.

We were there for an hour, snacking on jerky, saying hello to other hikers, and reading aloud the playing cards we have that show edible wild plants on them. The wind was wild but not cold, and the sun shone warm for a long time. The mosquitoes were decidedly fewer at the top of the tower. Nicholas kindly offered me his warm sweater, because he’s a gentleman like that.

At the top of Dr. Blackman's 16-ft stone tower
At the top of Dr. Blackman’s 16-ft stone tower

Soon enough we decided to go back, and ventured down the Eagle Scout trail the way we had come, to the parking lot. It took us a little less time to get down than it had to go up, but that is only natural considering the 480-ft elevation gain we had climbed. It wasn’t a long ride home, where we both promptly relaxed after consuming a delicious home cooked meal (thanks Nicholas) and I took a nap. Here’s to more hikes, and seeing more of the Northeast this summer.

Blue skies over the Blackman Tower
Blue skies over the Blackman Tower

 

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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Walk on The Edge of Space [Short Story]

By Corissa Haury

looking out to space
drawn by Corissa Haury

The gilded edges of the trophy felt cold and clean in Rayna’s hands. She clutched it close to her while she walked, unable to believe that she had just won it. Something about her own self-doubt usually held her back, but this time she had an object to prove her accomplishment.

“Where should we put that?” Jaren asked, at her side. They were walking back to the apartment together after the competition. The hall was clean, with a slate grey floor smooth as newly poured concrete and coated with a high gloss. The walls around them had a white, sterile clarity. It almost hurt the eyes to look around the fluorescent hall, but there was also art, posters, graffiti, and screens that flashed news headlines or ran an old comedy show.

Rayna shrugged. “Probably with all my other junk on my junk shelf.”

Jaren grinned. “Of course you will.” They both heard the sound of an old sitcom as the two of them passed. Someone had just made a joke; a laugh track played in their ears, and faded away as they continued. “You shouldn’t call it a junk shelf, it’s your souvenir shelf.” She gestured towards the end of the hallway. “Look, it’s the Moon side of the station. Let’s stop for a second.”

The women approached the end of the bright corridor, which emptied into a seemingly endless area. To the left, there were shops, apartments, escalators, people, screens of all sizes, and a large open place where hundreds of people mingled and sat around tables or on couches. Ahead, the two of them could see where the tunnel pointing towards home, continued.

“All right, but I want to get this thing back soon.” Rayna agreed. “And then I want to get some food.”

To their right, giant curved glass wrapped around the belly of the station like a belt. It stood a hundred feet high from floor to ceiling, disappearing into both. The huge panels of glass were cut off at the top and bottom by the beginning of other decks above and below.

“Wow.” Said Jaren. “It gets me every time.”

Rayna laughed. “Really? I’m so used to it by now.”

“Spoiled brat.” Jaren grinned. “It’s too bad you’ve never been to Earth. You should see some of the places there. It’s truly amazing.”

“I can’t fathom a horizon that ends.” Rayna shuddered. “I’d feel so trapped.”

“Space ends, somewhere out there.”

Rayna made a face and stuck her tongue out in disgust. “Blech, I’d hate to see that.”

They fell into silence as they approached a set of empty lounge chairs on the edge of the windows. The two of them had paused at the edge of the giant window-belt, and looked out at the moon, a few miles away in space. It was a planet unto itself.

“You can almost see the skyscrapers.” Rayna said.

“Ironic that they call them skyscrapers still.” Jaren looked out to space, to the void of sparkling stars and twinkling places they’d never been. “They should call them space-scrapers.”

“That doesn’t make any sense, Scrapers are another thing.”

“Well, that’s different.” Jaren sighed. “I do really miss Earth sometimes.”

“Don’t you have to go back for Christmas?”

“Maybe. I don’t know yet.” They fell silent again. Rayna could sense that Jaren wasn’t telling her something, but she knew better than to prod and poke. Being nosy was one of her less useful traits. She examined Jaren’s face, looking up into it and realizing that she didn’t want her to go away for Christmas.

“Well, I won’t be mad if you stayed.” Rayna smiled up at Jaren, trying to see if she could elicit a response, to distract her.

“You’re never mad when I stay.” Jaren broke out of the long stare at the Moon. “Come here.”

Rayna drew close, and the two young women wrapped their arms around one another. Rayna held the trophy in one hand and leaned her head on Jaren’s shoulder.

“Don’t go away for Christmas.” Rayna said. “Screw your parents, they’re just going to tell you how you should stay on Earth and you shouldn’t be in love with a woman.” She looked out at space and wondered how humanity could still be so self-obsessed in the face of such a beautiful, empty void.

“They just don’t know better.” Said Jaren. “They’ve never been to The ORB, or even left the Earth’s atmosphere. They refuse to leave because they’re comfortable where they are.”

They looked into each other’s faces, both people searching for meaning in the lines of their skin, in the patterns of wrinkles they both knew around their eyes, in the softness of their facial hair, in the glitter of light in their pupils.

“Well, I’m comfortable where I am.” Rayna broke the quiet and squeezed Jaren close, trying not to tear up at the idea of being apart from her for the holiday. “Please don’t go.” She looked away, back to the Moon. She knew Jaren would see pain if she continued their stare.

Jaren pulled Rayna closer, too, and squeezed back. “Don’t worry, my love.” Said Jaren. “I won’t go anywhere without you, ever again.”

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

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Summoning [short story]

By Corissa Haury

She stood at the crossroads, where there were four stop signs. It was freezing.

Her nose was numb. There were tiny frozen pieces of snow, ice, and her own frosty breath that framed her hood, closed as tight as she could manage without obscuring her vision. The sky was grey, flat. There was no active snow but for that which the wind blew about as a cruel joke, reminding the residents of the plains that no matter what they did there would always be snow blowing in the winter. She wanted to check her smartphone for the temperature, but it would be colder to remove her hands from her pockets, more of a risk to expose the device to the elements.

There were no cars out in this weather, at this time of night. It was becoming dusk, the color of the sky darkening into the night.

What am I waiting for? She wondered. Was it fear? Was it excitement?

She looked out over the crossroads. She could barely see past any of the road signs. The wind howled on the open hills, shooting down from the arctic circle across Canada to consume the open midwestern cornfields with frozen sleep.

Just do it. She thought to herself, and opened her cold lips to shout into the snowy void.

“HEY! HEY! HEY!” She shrieked, her voice as loud and rigorous and committed as she could manage.

“You have to mean it.” She remembered Alice saying. “Scream it like you want Him to come.”

At first, there was nothing but the howling wind and the ice biting at her skin and making her cheeks rosy. The hush of the winter air was still dull as a padded room. Her voice hadn’t echoed, it hadn’t been sent across the wind.

It didn’t work. She thought. That was stupid.

For a few more minutes, she stood there by one of the signs, waiting for a car, waiting for someone in a dark black cloak to appear. Perhaps she hadn’t done it right. Alice would know. Alice had seen the Someone.

“HEY!” She tried again. “HEY! HEY!” Back into the wind went her voice, snatched by the whirling bits of snow and ice around her. She felt a bone-chilling shiver climb her spine from her coccyx to the tip-top cervical vertebrae at the back of her skull. It was slow, and made her shudder all over for a moment.

“Hello.” Said a voice, and the girl whipped around to look for its owner. “Well isn’t it a bitch out here?”

Beside her, as she peeked out from the edge of her hood, she saw a strange looking man in black swim trunks with sunglasses on. There were seven little upside down crosses on either side of them. She counted quickly. She loved to count.

“Fuck, it’s cold.” Said the man, looking older and grizzled and somehow still handsome. He was fit, topless. He wasn’t fat, nor was He thin. She couldn’t see his eyes. His hair was thick and dark, with heavy streaks of gray like stripes throughout. He pushed His sunglasses down a little, and she noticed He was holding a drink with a cocktail umbrella shaped like a little knife.

“So?” He asked. “Do you want to make a deal with me, or what?”

“Uhm,” She started out, biting her lip. He’s not… He’s not what I thought. “I think so.” She said.

“Well, out with it.” He demanded, looking at her with piercing red eyes. She’d never seen red eyes before. She was mesmerized.

“I want you to kill someone for me.” She said aloud, the words feeling strange on her heart as she did so. She had wanted it for a long time. She did not anticipate how it would feel to say it aloud, though.

“Look, I haven’t got all day here.” He said, tapping His glass as he raised it to His lips and tipped His head back. He drank the rest of the golden-red liquor inside it. Then He tipped the glass over and dumped the little knife and all the ice down onto the snow at their feet. She looked down. He wore sandals. His legs looked older, too, as if they’d had some experience in the world. She realized His swim trunks had ten tiny five pointed stars on each side. She was counting again.

 

“You’re really going for it, aren’t you?” She asked.

“What?” He leaned in closer. She could smell His breath, somehow still hot despite the ice surrounding them. It smelled of liquor, and burning pine.

“Look at your outfit. You picked those clothes?” She mocked, unable to help herself.

“Are you serious?” He leaned back and threw His cocktail container into the road. It smashed against ice, the glass shattering and sliding from the sheer force. “You’re going to give the fucking Devil a hard time about his Satanic clothes?”

“Everyone wears those these days.” She said. “You couldn’t find something scarier, more creative?”

“Hey, not a lot of people summon me, OK?” He became defensive. “I’ll wear what I want, thank you very fucking much. I am the Devil.” She began to notice His speech patterns. He made an indignant sound. “Don’t fuck with me, kid. What do you want already? I can’t just kill people, you know. Some people have destinies and shit.”

“Destinies and shit?” She asked skeptically. “You know, if it weren’t for the fact that I just summoned you, I’d have a hard time believing you were the Devil.”

“Is this how you talk to the old men in your life? I’m thousands of years old here. Don’t fuck with me. I told you. Make a deal and be done with it or I’ll make a deal with the damn Son of God right now for your measly little soul.”

“Aren’t I about to give you my soul anyways?”

“Ew, no.” The Devil looked at her with His bright red eyes over His dark sunglasses in the dead of winter, topless, full of bile, and irritated. “Souls are disgusting. Why do you think I throw all of them in a pit of fire? Have you seen one?” He seemed to shake something off. “Ick. No. I’m a bigger fan of debauchery and lecherous behavior.”

“I see.” She said. “So if you kill someone, you don’t get their soul?”

“Didn’t you hear me, kid? I can’t just kill someone.”

“Can you give me the power to do it?”

“I could.” He said, leaning against the stop sign beside them. He was tall. There was something strangely attractive about Him, something odd that she found herself drawn to. Something sexual, something sinful.

He is the Devil. She thought to herself. He’s supposed to bring lust, anger, sloth, pride, and all that to humans, right?

“I’ve never had somebody procrastinate on a deal so much.” He said. “What do I get if I give you some of my power?”

“What can I do with your power?” She inquired.

“You can do lots of stuff. I’ll give you a manual. Come on, come on, deal or no deal?”

“Wait!” She said. “What am I giving you? A vacation to the Bahamas?”

He stood up straight. “That’s enough out of you.” He spat, then coughed and belched some smoke out towards the road. “Let me visit you during the full moon every month.” His eyes gleamed.

“Visit me?” She asked. She saw the look He gave her. She wasn’t particularly attractive, but she wasn’t ugly. She had a shapely ass. She knew what he meant. He was impatient.

“You know. Take you to the boneyard?”

“I never thought the Devil would be a cheesy bastard.” She said. “I should be the one telling you to fuck off.”

“You’re the one who called me here. Either I get to visit you and we fuck once a month, or you don’t get the power.”

Something in the way He said fuck once a month drew her in. Sure, He was several thousand years her senior. But He was a sarcastic silver fox, also.

How bad can it be to sleep with Satan? She wondered to herself. She wanted revenge more than she cared about who she slept with. She wanted the power He could give her.

“Well, you’re not ugly.” She said aloud, returning the flirtation.

“Cool.” He leaned through in the cold wind, ice and snow battering the both of them, and kissed her cheek with His scorching mouth. Her face burned hot and bright, flaming with her own embarrassment and his heat. Everything smelled like smoking pine.

“Deal?” She asked Him.

He squeezed her ass quickly after He kissed her cheek. It made her jump.

“Deal.” He winked a bright red eye at her over His sunglasses, not for the last time. “See you next month.” He grinned, and He was gone.

She looked down, feeling cold again. His piney alcoholic smell had already been swept away by the wintry weather.

She saw His little cocktail knife on the ground in the snow, and leaned down to pick it up. It was small, but she could read in tiny letters on the side, manual.

What am I supposed to do with this? She wondered. He’s coming back in a month. How is this a manual?

Ridiculous, curious, most likely delirious.

I love a great story, whether it comes in the form of words or visual stimuli. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and I love to share mine.

Please feel free to read along, comment, share your own stories, or send me a message via the contact page. Thanks for your time reading my words.

Continue Reading