Nearly every year, we plan to go to a Easter sunrise service; and nearly every year, our plans our foiled by the weather, by someone being ill, or just by sheer laziness.
Not this year.
Several of our family members awakened before 5:00 this morning to dress warmly (17 degrees) and make the drive to Bradbury Mountain State Park. Upon arriving, we parked our car and began the 1/4-mile walk to the top of the small mountain.
In past years (and on countless summer and fall days) we’ve made this hike up Bradbury Mountain. There are several trails from which to choose. Our favorite is about a mile long, and it winds around the mountain before leading hikers to the top. On dark Easter mornings, however, most of the crowd takes the much faster 1/4-mile trail. This shorter trail is steeper, often like stair steps, especially near the top.
When we started through the small field that led us toward the trail, we commented on the snow pack. We were thankful that we were walking on top of the snow, rather than sinking into it. Somehow, it didn’t occur to any of us that the steep trail UP the mountain would have snow on it as well. As I mentioned before, we are fair-weather sunrise service attendees, so we’d never done this in the snow.
My dad, who is well into his sixties and from southern California, had on some type of tough tennis shoes. They were fine for walking and maybe even for a light hike. But not for a hike on ice. Yes, we soon found that the problem with the trail was not the snow pack, but rather, the ice.
I might add here that my dad runs 3 miles a day, but that’s in sunny, 60-degree, California weather. Year round. This morning in Maine, I thought Bradbury Mountain might be the end of him. He fell twice before we were even halfway up. I told him we’d go back down and attend the service at the bottom of the mountain (yes, they have two – one at the top and one at the bottom). But he insisted that we keep going.
So we did. He fell again, but kept moving to the outside of the trail into the deep snow, which was a bit easier. Here he is hiking the deep snow. And no, that isn't a wolf - it's someone's dog and it WAS on a leash.
We finally made it to the top, all in one piece. And we were so thankful we did. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful sights any of us had witnessed. The face of Bradbury Mountain is a big, flat rock. For the Easter sunrise service, hearty souls who made the hike sit or stand on the rock while a local pastor leads them in song and in a short message celebrating the Resurrection of Christ.
As the service began, the sky in the east was glowing pink. In the west, the full moon was just beginning to sink behind the trees.
As the pastor spoke, the sun peeked over the horizon, much to the delight of all who were there.
After the service, we took a few family pics and then began the treacherous trek back down the mountain.
We were afraid that our jokes about getting down the mountain a lot more quickly might be a bit too close to the truth, so we ventured off the trail into the deep snow and made our way slowly.
At one point, my dad found a patch of dry ground. As he happily walked through the dead leaves, he commented about how well he was doing. As the words were coming out of his mouth, he hit a tiny, invisible patch of ice and went down again. But he kept smiling and wouldn’t let it get him down – figuratively, anyway. (He even let me take his picture!)
We made it back to the car in one piece...
... and then drove the short distance to the adorable little church in Pownal for coffee and donuts.
When we finally headed home to get ready for our regular church service, we felt we had put in a full day – a wonderful day. And it was only 7:30 a.m.
The rest of the day went like this:
1. Put dinner on to cook.
2. Drove to church for Easter service.
3. Drove back home for Easter dinner.
4. Ate way too much.
5. Took a long nap.
6. Watched family members play Axis and Allies – which fried my brain.
7. Watched a movie I’d already seen twice this week – (I’m a sucker for comedies).
8. Contemplated taking Dad back to L.L. Bean and then thought better of it.
Now Easter is coming to a close in my little corner of Maine. Soon my son will be going back to school, hubby will be going back to work, and Dad will be going back to California. But tonight I’m going to enjoy my family for just a little longer… and the celebration of the real meaning of Easter doesn’t ever have to end.
Happy Easter, from our family to yours.
Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes