As we sipped martini's at lunch last Friday, I mentioned that I hoped
not to, but I probably would see ghosts over the weekend.  I did.  It
almost killed me.

If you've ever seen a moose at night, especially when driving, then
you're familiar with these ghosts.  The animal's dark coloring makes
it almost invisible under the cover of darkness.  One could be
standing right on the edge of the road and you'll just catch a glimpse
of the outline at the very last second as you drive by.  Often it will
be the glowing eyes that tip you off to its presence.

Somewhere between Wentworth Location, New Hampshire and Rangeley,
Maine, sometime around 9:30 p.m. on Friday evening, I had a
far-too-close-for-comfort encounter with one of these ghosts.  The
speed limit was 55 m.p.h., I was traveling between 45 & 50 m.p.h.
Suddenly, I saw it.  A huge, dark behemoth trotting across the road
right right in front of me.  When I say huge, it was taller than my
car, it's underbelly probably was around my head-level in the car.  I
braked hard and steered left, into the other lane.  A split second
before I hit the moose, he veered right.  I was sure that my right
rear quarter-panel would hit him.  Fortunately, we missed each other
by a foot or two.

A truck approached me from behind as I slowly started up again and got
back into the right-hand lane.  My heart pounding, I pulled over to
collect myself.  The contents of my passenger seat were mixed in with
the leftover fries that came with my Tim's Deli (Lancaster, NH) Philly
Cheesesteak.  After a taking a bathroom break, I resumed my voyage,
but remained spooked for the rest of the drive, never exceeding 40
m.p.h. and braking for tall clumps of roadside grass.  It was a relief
to finally find a small logging turnout just South of Dallas and crawl
into my bag in the bed of my r.v., er, Subaru, sometime after 11 p.m.

* * *

That was one of three moose, the other two calves, and three deer that
I saw this past weekend during my first hiking trip to Maine.  (Five
roadside moose for the year, when you add the two that I saw returning
from the Cochran's Tucks trip.  I've been up close and personal with
moose a couple of times before, including as close as six feet while
canoeing the West Branch of the Penobscot, but never in such a
frightening close-call.)  It was a terrific weekend of hiking.

On Saturday morning, I visited Saddleback Ski Area and hiked to the
summit of Saddleback Mountain (4,120') and over to The Horn (4,041')
and back along a marvelous above treeline ridge.  After picking up a
pair of North-bound AT thruhikers known as The Dusty Camels on the ski
area access road and dropping them off in Stratton--along the way
seeing my third moose of the weekend and their first moose during
their entire trip--I ascended the infamous Caribou Valley Road, making
it 1.1 miles past the AT crossing.  There, I parked my car and hiked
Redington Mountain (4,010).

I camped along the road Saturday night and got a 7 a.m. start hiking
South Crocker (4,050') and North Crocker (4,228'). It was a crisp,
sunny, and slightly windy morning-perfect for hiking.  By 11 a.m., I
was heading back down the Caribou Valley Road and back to
Massachusetts.  Home by 4 p.m. after hiking five of the fourteen four
thousand footers in Maine.   During the three hikes, I ran into three
other hikers on Saddleback, none on Redington, and two on the
Crockers.  In spite of the scary ghost, it was a good weekend.

--Matt K.

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