(Yet again), it was not a dark and stormy night, but it should have been. After all, I was meeting up with The Hobgoblin for a walk in the Maine woods. Some of you may recall what happened once before during a meeting with The Hobgoblin.
But I was completely unsuspecting. After all, this time Dorr and Bob and the ever-vigilant Muttboy were all going to be with me. That was the first mistake I made: assuming Bob and Muttboy would be with us. You see, the minute we hit the trails, Dorr and I were left far behind as the other three pretty much disappeared out of sight, whisked off under the maniacal powers of The Hobgoblin.
I have to admit that poor Muttboy did his valiant best to resist those powers, so worried was he that Dorr was in extreme danger. He was going to be sure she didn't get lost in the woods, and he seems to have a few magical charms of his own, having enough influence over The Hobgoblin that he was every so often released from The Hobgoblin's powers to rush back down the path to assure that Dorr had not fallen down a well or into a ravine or suffered some other such Lassie-like fate.
I also have to admit that I easily fell for The Hobgoblin's dastardly plan. You see, I was busy being impressed with how patient Dorr, someone who has all kinds of backpacking and hiking experience (not to mention someone who is in far better shape than I am with all her bike-race training, yoga practice, and possible-marathon training), was with my climb-up-on-my-hands-and-knees-and-slide-down-on-my-butt-if-I-have-to style of making it up and down mountains. I thought she was merely being kind as we began to lag farther and farther behind, and she chose to stick with me rather than accompanying the boys. Little did I know that we were both under The Hobgoblin's spell. She had no choice but to stick with me, as it was all part of his plan.
We went on two hikes that day, all above the Sand Beach area in Acadia National Park. I should have been on my toes. However, I wasn't. I paid no attention when halfway through the second hike, during a brief moment when Dorr and I had caught up to Bob and The Hobgoblin and Muttboy, Bob's cell phone began beeping. The Hobgoblin had obviously drained the phone's battery. He suggested we all turn off our cell phones so that we didn't all end up with dead batteries. Without questioning, Dorr and I obliged. I guess I was just way too busy discussing books and books and more books (oh yeah, and jobs and religion and hiking, and a few other things) to be on the alert.
But then, we came to a fork in the road with the familiar wooden-arrow signposts marking the trails. Bob is always ahead of me on trails (because I don't feel like jogging up and down mountains), but he never fails to stop at these forks to wait for me and to make sure I continue on the right trail. I like hiking this way with him, because it allows me to hike alone (which I love to do) while knowing that if something happens to me, someone knows where I am and isn't all that far away from me. However, he seems to have a real fear of losing me on the trail. Thus, I can only surmise that The Hobgoblin had cast a mighty strong spell, because no one was waiting for us as we approached the fork in the road.
I still didn't think anything of it. Being women, Dorr and I chose the logical path, the one with the sign that read "Sand Beach." After all, we were reaching the end of the trail, and I knew we were parked in the Sand Beach parking area.
Soon, though, Dorr began to get an eerie feeling. She was quite sure we'd already been on this path, that we were now climbing down the same trail we had ascended. We were not supposed to be doing this. The trail we had picked was a loop, because I avoid going up and down the same way whenever possible. Eventually, I too, began to get the same eerie feeling.
We met a man coming the opposite direction on the trail with a big black dog who could have been Muttboy's cousin. We asked if he'd seen two men with another black dog. He looked a bit concerned as he told us that he hadn't seen them and asked where we were headed. When I said, "The Sand Beach parking area," he said, "You're on the right trail then."
The right trail to get back to Sand Beach, but the wrong trail to find Bob and Muttboy, who were obviously being carried deep into the woods by The Hobgoblin. We couldn't call them, because Bob's cell phone battery was dead. Had he managed to escape and had found someone to lend him a cell phone (something Bob has done many a time), desperately trying to reach us, we'd have been oblivious, as both our cell phones were turned off per The Hobgoblin's instructions.
We were wise. We didn't panic. We knew where we were. We knew how to get back to the car. Dorr was the wiser of the two, though, because when I suggested we go back to the parking lot, she thought it best for us just to continue to the end of this trail, where we had begun the hike. This decision must have broken The Hobgoblin's spell (although I like to think that Muttboy's persistence, when he went off in search of us and couldn't find us, put a few cracks in the spell as well). We discovered all three at another intersection, The Hobgoblin in the midst of taking them back up the mountain and away from all civilization forever. Once the spell had been broken, The Hobgoblin and Bob (obviously still under his spell) tried to explain that we had not been hiking the Sand Beach trail. The Hobgoblin tried to sound concerned, relating how they'd frantically hiked a good ways back up both trails to try to find us (the spell lingered just a bit more late that night, after we'd all had dinner together, and Bob told me how fast The Hobgoblin had hurried up and down those trails in search of us).
I, however, at long last, was paying attention, and was not fooled. The Hobgoblin may be charming company, but I now know that's how he gets me off my guard. Who knows where he and Bob and Muttboy might be now if Dorr and I had not spoiled his plans? I'm pretty sure this little episode, had it not failed, was an experiment meant to be included in a book he's writing. It will be a transcendent book (although Dorr just might disagree with that).