In just 10 miles of travel, my pack had seemingly increased tenfold in weight. I considered leaving it behind at Times Square, but I lugged it along for fear that mice, squirrels or some other critter would pilfer our foodstocks.
After tackling the steep up and down route to Couchsaraga, the group took a few photos and we promptly returned to Times Square for lunch. To my relief, one of the ladies had pulled up lame with a twisted ankle.
“Thankfully, St. Anthony was listening,” I mumbled while panting for breath, “That should slow the pace a bit!”
Unselfishly, I offered to forsake the jaunt to Santanoni, in order to care for the young lady, and to have a moment of rest. The others agreed with my offer, and they promptly took off toward Santanoni at a steady clip.
I began taping up the suspect ankle, and soon we decided to test it with a slow stroll to nearby, Panther Peak. Surprisingly, I managed to keep pace with the wounded one, and my mind raced with thoughts of spraining a few more ankles.
After returning from Santanoni, the group regrouped and amid much laughter, the friendly banter began anew. I offered up fresh drinks for everyone, as part of my ongoing efforts to shed weight. Fortunately, I had some takers.
After a quick lunch, we again hiked to the summit of Panther for a short visit, and soon I announced it was time for the departure. With no sign of fatigue, the ladies took off as if shot from a cannon, and the banter never let up.
They stayed on my heels like bubble gum on a hot day. for the entire return trip. They were pushing me along. Finally, with the truck in sight, I staggered to deposit my tattered carcass on the tailgate. Shedding the pack offered a huge relief. I felt as if I was ready for lift-off.