A memoir about the time when I hiked in Arcadia. I was 5 at the time.
The constant bump-bump-bump arouses me from my light wretched slumber. I awake, and see my brothers snuggled in their seats and still dormant, for they are deep sleepers. The car seems to be moving as slow as a turtle but the bump-bump-bump belies its true speed and reveals to me that I have not yet recovered the full command of my senses. A wooden sign up ahead in a winding road, crooked from storms and hurricanes it has weathered through the ages, and eroded from winds and rain, has only one thing to say—Arcadia, Mountain Cadillac-1,530 feet. Uh-oh. “The end is nigh.” I think to myself. Then the beasts awaken, groaning and shuffling, and their devilish grins appear, flashing their teeth too, and extending their long, sharp claws— and the battle ensues once again. Jason and Michael start to bicker, blabbing their mouths off. This assures me that everything is back to normal, and I close my eyes and try to coax myself back to sleep knowing that my world is still intact. As always, they fight, although the reasons may differ from time to time – sometimes for elbow room, sometimes for the last bit of candy…
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. That sound. It seems… as if it is purposely trying to annoy me. I brush off branches and plants as I crush the mixture of rocks, sand, and dirt beneath me. I march up the mountain, one foot after the other, my steps like a heartbeat, pounding and pounding. I dart from rock to rock, leaping over the streams of water and slipping through the narrow crevices. But soon, my body starts to ache, and my breath grows heavy; and my legs refuse to go on, as if they were commandeering a mutiny. Yet only an hour has passed. I ask myself the same question: Why am I here? I moan, tired of this endless, purposeless march up the mountain. Hmph. Even before the trip, at home, the moment I heard “Maine”, I had a premonition that something ominous was hanging over our trip. I was right. Even its name strikes fear into the bravest souls, haunting anyone who dares to climb the mountain. Towering overhead at a height of 1,530 feet, Mt. Cadillac seemed to lord over its surroundings, challenging the bravest to come and take its crown. The trail is treacherous; with thorny bushes and long, protruding, jousting branches guarding the trail. Yet again, the same tormented question races through my head – “Why am I here?” This meaningless, endless, hopeless endeavor dulls all of my senses and death seems near at hand.
Alas! The summit is reached after a great deal of hours; and I, a little boy just 5 years old, stand in glory like a warrior who has defeated his arch nemesis. Then, I had one glimpse of the top, and my life, my point of view of the world and of our wondrous nature, changed from that point. I saw beautiful skies, green foliage, and vibrant wildlife everywhere. The neighboring mountains in the distance are tinted with a blue-purple hue, and nature just seemed… magnificent. Suddenly my being was overcome with an epiphany. I stood transfixed in awe of our life giving Mother Earth. I felt inexplicably tied to this scenery I was witnessing, and that I was part of this, and my very existence was dependent on nature. Even though I was only 5, the hike up Mt. Cadillac made an indelible impression in my mind, and unlike other memories, made a deep impact on my life. Soon after, I developed an interested in climate change and the environment. That is the story of my trip that changed my view of the world, nature, but most importantly, myself.