My friend April and I decided to hike the Roost Trail in Evans Notch on December 7th. It was a warm, sunny day to get outdoors and take in the fresh air, beauty, and silence one experiences when hiking. We decided to hike the Evans Notch trail thinking that the winter gate to the White Mountain National Forest was open but it was closed despite the lack of snow in Maine. So we made the decision to walk the two miles to the Roost trailhead, do the loop, then walk the 2 1/2 miles back, and we did not regret it despite the day going from a 2 mile hike to a six mile hike. We both grew up as children swimming in the Wild River located in Evans Notch and made the realization that we had never walked on the Evans Notch Road (Route 113) after the gate was closed. It was incredible!
This Roost Trail hike was unforgettable. I had hiked it once last summer because it was one of the easiest in the White Mountain National Forest. But my Post Traumatic Stress was so intense when I hiked it then that I missed the Scenic View sign and never did see the view at the Roost while up there. I was inspired to hike it again because I learned that there is in fact a view. Looking back, I realized that the Roost Trail was the first hike I had done in years after getting afflicted with PTSD. I must have been too overwhelmed to be in the ‘here and now’ to notice the Scenic View sign. This hike to the Roost made me realize just how far I have come in over a year. This hike to the spot referred to as the Roost, where the scenic view is located, was a first for both of us. I got a do-over.
We both realized that we had never walked on the Evans Notch Road before. We had driven it hundreds of times in our lifetime but we had never walked it. And given that the road is so narrow and heavily used in the summer months, I really wasn’t interested in walking it. But with the winter gate closed and no snow, we got the surprise of a lifetime. It was dead silent in Evans Notch with no automobiles. We ran into a couple bikers and a roller blader. And we thought both activities looked fun given these unique circumstances. But for the most part, we were the only ones in the moment. We were in the here and now. We felt drunk on the smell and gentle sounds of nature and the beauty of the woods. It was exhilarating to have this place to ourselves. We felt so thankful for this opportunity in the White Mountain National Forest with no motorized vehicles. We enjoyed every moment of it and could not get over how incredibly warm and sunny it was on this December day in Maine.
While we were sitting at the Roost taking in the view, we couldn’t believe that all the time we had spent in Evans Notch as kids that we had never done the short hike to this spot. We had never seen this perspective of Evans Notch, the place that we treasured as kids with our families. April’s parents took her and her siblings to the same water holes that my parents took me and my brothers to. We had a common feeling about being thankful for this experience. I find it interesting that I find comfort and joy in the same places that I grew up in, the same places I didn’t appreciate because it was all I knew and in my backyard. It’s ironic that I am now finding peace and healing in the same national forests and state parks I grew up visiting yet never truly explored as a hiker. I have learned that I can rediscover the same places I visited as a child simply by hiking the trails provided to us by those who understand just how important they are. We both look forward to rediscovering the same places we visited many, many times before but this time it will be on foot.