A/N:  This is something I decided to write, after I wrote my Black Mountain poem.  I only felt fair to pay my respects to my other favorite spot to hike.  ^-^ A LOT went into this; and I mean *a lot!* So; before you read this; please be kind.  There is some history in this story; so, you'll be able to enjoy a fic about the great northern Maine; and learn something while you're here.  ^-^ Thanks so much, and enjoy your stay!  3

DISCLAIMER:  I own everything in this story; with the exception of the mountain herself; and the legend in which is explained here.  Please do not take what is mine in this story without my consent.  ^-^  Thank-you, and happy reading!  ^-^

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Stars filled my eyes, as I made my descent onto the smooth, rocky surface that had now become my road to follow. 

I have to admit; there is nothing like walking on pine needles, and leaves.  I mean, it does create more of a 'natural' aura with this type of things; but after nearly an hour of climbing; I was happy to reach the top.

Yep.  As you all have noticed- I was hiking one of my favorite spots in the world:  Tumbledown Mountain.  And now that I had finally been able to reach the top; I was thrilled!

Sure, I had been here before; but never by myself.  I had always had a friend with me.  You know; to help me to the top, as well; I'm not the best navigator around.  ::blush:: 

I'll say this:  On my first trip up; I nearly got lost, and panicked due to the one I was with leaving my sight.  I'm still pretty ashamed of that today; but, it was a learning experience.

That first hike was a killer compared to this one.  But, I have to tell you- this one was a breeze.  I mean, I had only cracked open three of my juice boxes; leaving only 3 more.  Perfect for the trip down.  I was happy.  But, I had just gotten here; so I wasn't about to think about leaving at a time like this.

I wiped the sweat from my hair.  Whew.  It was hot!  I mean, it was mid-July; and nearly 80 out here! 

Now, I'm sure most of you are thinking, "Gee, what a wuss." 

But, you know what?  Mountain hiking is much different than your normal 'tiptoe through the flower fields.' 

This took agility; took courage; took heart; and most of all- it was a physical, mental, and spiritual challenge.  A race to the top, so to speak.

Oh, sure; some may whine, and groan over the extra workout; but believe me, once you're up here; you'll want more and more.  It's like a drug that you can't wean yourself off of.  Believe me; I have tried. 

My outcome, you ask?  Well, where am I, again? 

That should tell you your answer.

I grunted my way to the top; (hey, I was tired!) finally reaching apart of the earth that not many live to see.  At least, in this form, or manner. 

Most; well, anyone who aren't willing to climb to the peak; must come up in a helicopter.  And, well, when you're way the hell up north, like I am; you're not going to find any in your trip.

I finally reached a nice, flat rock to flop down on, as I set my backpack to my right.  I needed a drink. 

Reaching into the first zippered part; I pulled out some Gatorade, and chugged it down.  Yes.  This was much better.

I happened to fix my towel as a cushion, when a soft, soothing wind came to greet me.  My welcoming from 'Madame Tumbledown' herself.  I loved it so much.  This place was definitely on my 'favorites to hike' list.  And, I know if you were here- you could see why. The views; the summit; the skies.  They were spectacular!

And, out of all the times I was here; I was always willing to climb up, and down, without any major injuries.  The ones I received?  Well, they were my own fault.  Serves me right for not paying my full attention to things ahead of me. 

Yes, folks; I was also a klutz.  I admit it.

But, this time was different.  It was a bright, sunny day; birds were singing; and the views of the lake, and the other mountains seemed to jump right out at you.  Literally.  A beautiful maiden of death, she was. 

Why do I say that?  Well, if one got too carried away; and not paid attention; they could easily- no, wait; scratch that; they *would* easily plummet to their 600 foot death.  Yes, dear readers; with a great beauty such as this; also comes with great dangers. 

In other words:  Cliffs.  Steep cliffs.  Those in which, I am sure many have died on.  Those not paying attention enough to watch where they were heading.  And of course; the teenagers that drive their four-wheelers up here.  I forgot to mention that earlier.

That's the only thing I didn't like about them:  It seemed to disrupt the peacefulness that is nature. 

I mean, people come up here to escape the noise, and life of the world; not for some kid on a racer to come up and rev his engine before your sea of peace.  You all get the point, right?  Right.

Now, as I explained earlier; the views are amazing. 

I never liked living in Maine; until I actually came up to the quieter, northern area of it.  Then, well; you could say I fell in love.  

The mountains are apart of me; and I'm apart of them.  I knew this from the first day I came up here.  Sure, it was 6 hours of agony, and dehydration; ((Again, my own fault;)) but it was worth everything when I reached the great summit.

You see, I had grown up in the noisier part of the state. 

Sadly, my parents didn't believe in nature, and fresh mountain streams.  Instead, they preferred hustle, and bustle.  And as for the spring?  You'd be forced to buy it in a bottle.  Yeah.  Not exactly my idea of wilderness.

I always swore that when I moved out of my parent's; I'd jump right up; and grab a place up here.  And you know what?  I think I will. 

Though, depending on who I end up with; I may have to make a few small sacrifices. Mostly for the sake of going to school.  But, no worries.  I wouldn't be too far away.

Of course, this was way off in the future.  I wasn't even about to tackle that thought now.  I'll leave it up to fate, I guess.

But, right now?  I'm going to enjoy my mountain.

I breathed in the fresh, summer air.  This was the life. 

From beyond me; stood Black Mountain.  It was so close, that I could nearly reach out and touch it. 

I mean, it was so beautiful. 

And; before you go telling me that it's just a bunch of rock formed into land; I'll tell you that this has become apart of me; and that you won't understand until you're here experiencing for yourself.

Black always fascinated me.  Even from the first time I laid eyes on him.  Why?  That one's easy. 

You see, the mountain itself sat to the west; on the very side that the sun bids goodbye to the earth.  And; well; due to this happening; it cast various shadows, and dark spots onto his widened form.

It was a mystery to me, really.  As bright as the sun was to the area; not every crevice and area got to meet her gentle, heated rays.  And in the long-run:  Making the mountain seem like it was haunted.

All in all:  Black was also on my list of favorites. 

But, today I wasn't here to rave on about Black; as I had done that many times; but to pay homage to the darling, Tumbledown.  And pay homage, I intended.

You see, this wasn't a special mountain just for her views; and smooth, rocky summit; but for another reason.  A reason, not born from rock, and dirt; but the grave of a once-free-spirited soul resides here, at her lush, green base.

His name was Leo.  He was a prospector back in the 1960's.  At the time, he owned a little cottage on the base of Tumbledown Mountain.  It was his favorite, after all; so it would only be logical to reside right at the hip of the place you admired most.

Well, one day, he and his teenage son were out mining for something.  I forget if it was for gold; for garnet; for whatever.  As well, believe it or not; my state was ripe with the stuff.  Garnet before gold, though.  It was a bit tougher to discover gold. 

Not to mention, one could easily wind up with a whole bucket of pyrite; fake gold, as they call it.  So, of course; you had to be skilled, and crafty in the art to be able to locate, and identify the real stuff.

Anyway; Leo and his son were out on a day in which they thought would be like any other.  Little did they know; fate had something in store for them both.  A tragic, un-pleasurable something.

You see, they had been using TNT to try and blast their way to some hidden treasure.  You know, to take home, and do whatever with.

Everything was going fine, until this one fuse seemed to light it's way to the shell; and then just pop out like it was nothing.  A dud, as they called it. 

Well; they both waited for a good half hour; until Leo himself decided to see what was going on.  After all, no need to leave a dead TNT shell out there, right?  Right.

I guess the fate's had had another plan for them; as when he got there; the powdery substance exploded; causing the 'dud' to suddenly take to life; and for Leo to parish on that very spot.

Not long after; they had gathered what parts they could find of him; and placed him in a grave right in the lush, bushed area; right at the base of the mountain that he had loved so well.

Although his home is long-gone; he still lies in the same spot; undisturbed; eternally resting in the mountain that had been his solace; and his final destination on that one, fateful day.

Many who hear about the legend come to Tumbledown, to pay their respects; and to ask the mountain for a safe travel.  I am no exception.  Even with friends; I still drop by Leo's Grave; as it's called; and welcome myself with a fond 'hello.' 

Placing a lone, white flower onto his grave; I descend my way up the trail, and eventually onto the vast summit above. So, far; when I have said my respects; the mountain has always seemed to smile down upon me; allowing me up to the top; and back down safely.

Of course, no trip is complete without saying a final goodbye to Leo; bidding his spirit farewell, until I return again.

After all; they do say his spirit watches over the place to this day.  And myself?  I'm a believer.  I've had one too many unexplainable things happen to me to be able to sit here and tell you that it's all a hoax.  So, yes; my friends; science cannot explain everything.

For hours, I sit; just listening to the sounds around me.  I take in every aura, every spectacle of this grand mass of land that I stand on.  I have often asked myself of why people do not take the time to pursue this journey; and to why so little know about the place.

The only answer I can think of, is this:  People are so busy and wrapped up with the everyday hustle and bustle of the world, that don't stop, and take the time to explore, and discover the wondrous gifts of Mother Nature. 

So many overlook the beauty that is right before their eyes. The splendor- that money just can't buy.  That money won't buy.  No amount of money could ever dominate the power of the wilderness; trust me. 

I used to be just like most people.  I didn't care about the outside.  I was always one for the mall; for a Best Buy; and for someplace with a drive-in McDonald's. 

I'd have never thought about placing my foot atop of a summit; of taking time to stop and breathe in the fresh air of the outdoors; of dipping my essence into the soothing streams that seem to flow all around these places; or even taking the time out to explore all the minerals, and fibers of this plain's very being.

And let me tell you this:  Once you take in the mountain's spirit; you will keep wanting more and more.

Me?  I'll be back.  You can bet your dear life that I'll be back.  Nothing can tear me away from the place that has become my haven away from the world.  My very paradise that pales the beaches that so many have come to know.

I'd take the mountains any day over the ocean.  Any day. 

You don't need a beach, some shops, and some fast-food places to find your center.  Your haven; and paradise. You just need a heart of determination; a spirit of adventure; and a desire to seek out what is beyond the pale; and carried away beyond your wildest dreams.

This time I was alone; but next time, I'd be happy to climb with any one of you.  I'm always up for showing others the beauty of nature; and teaching to them the old legends that some may not know about; but never forgetting when they learn of them.

I'm proud to have been here; and someday; perhaps you will be able to pry your own self away from the busy, city life; and journey out to the quiet, tranquil country.  Who knows. 

But, for now:  See you at the Summit!

~A little something I thought up after writing my Black Mountain poem.  ^-^ I think I'll do that now with every mountain I hike.  A story, or poem.  ^-^ But, this one had some history behind it; so, of course, it had to be a story.  ^-^ Now to remember what the heck Bald Mountain looked like to a full; and I'll be all set.  ^-^ Oh, yes; that's the second mountain I hiked, for those who ask.  ^-^ Please R/R; and be kind!  ^-^ Thanks for reading!  3