Astray on a Mountain in Maine | Teen Ink

Astray on a Mountain in Maine

November 3, 2021
By erdunbar, Oakland, Maine
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erdunbar, Oakland, Maine
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Author's note:

This is a true story about me and my dog in Acadia National Park.

I look around calling her name.

“Piper! Piper, come!”

All I see are trees and rocks. My heart starts pounding as I listen to the silence around me. I hear my heavy breathing from climbing the big rocks. I sit down and pull out a granola bar. Eating will distract me, right?

“It’ll be ok,” Mom says calmly, even though I know she is just as worried as I am. Then, out of nowhere, something hits me in the back.

“What town are we in?” Landon asks. 

“Ellsworth,” Mom replies. 

I look out the car window as we pass a large building that has canoes and kayaks outside of it. I remember when I went kayaking. It was not fun. The boat was an old lady, shaky and slow. 

We are in the car heading to Acadia National Park. My humans and me. I get comfortable, snuggled close between Emmy and Landon. Emmy reaches over and scratches behind my ear. It feels so good. I lick her hand to say thanks. The next thing I know, I am dreaming of hikes and dog treats. 

“Listen to her snore!” Emmy says. It sounds like a whisper but it was practically a shout. “Oops. I woke her up.”

“I heard that,” I say. I know they don’t understand me.

“Hi Piper. Is Emmy being mean to you? Did she wake you up?” Landon glares at Emmy. Watching them argue is my favorite form of entertainment. I wish I had popcorn. It’s really good, you should try it. 

The car stops and Emmy opens her door. I jump up but she grabs my collar and hooks the dreaded leash up. Oh no!

  “Hey! Hey! Hey you! Do you see me? Do you want to play with me? I want to play!” I shout to another dog who passes by. He completely ignores me. I look around. There are a bunch of people on the sidewalk and a bunch of buildings surrounding a park. Dad takes my leash from Emmy and walks me over to the grass. I sniff the lamp posts and benches and stone fence. I smell other dogs, food, humans, and squirrels. I jump around and pull as hard as I can towards the park. 


After my humans ate their ice creams and I ate my cookie, we got back into the car. I fall asleep again and dream of giant cookies to eat on a boat.

The car stops and I sit up. We are in a gravel lot with a big building. My Dad is inside the big building and everybody else is listening to something they call an audiobook. Once Dad comes back out we pull onto a path and follow it passing many large tents to one that is red. The car stops again. Jumping around and whining, my excitement is near to bursting as Emmy, Landon, and I look forward to the final destination.

“Calm down Piper!” Landon says.

I don’t stop until Emmy opens the door with me on my leash and I run. Or at least try to. Emmy has a firm grip on my leash and I move forward about a foot before I feel that familiar tug. I slow down and walk at the same pace as my human. I enter the large tent and it smells like cleaning supplies and pine. Emmy lets me off the leash and the fist thing I do is jump up onto the giant bed. Luxury. I get comfortable and decide that I should take a nice long nap.


The next day, Emmy takes me for a walk on the path by the tents which I learned are called yurts. The morning air is a cake, thick and warm, but still airy. As I walk through the grass. The fur on my legs are wet from dew. Once I do my business we head back. After a long time of humans talking, we got into the car. About a half hour later, we arrive at the beehive mountain. Emmy has her camera called a GoPro (I only know this because I am the smartest dog in the world and she won't stop talking about it) filming from her backpack, and Landon has my leash. We start the hike together.

We start on the trail to Beehive mountain. Ever since my friend Nora told me about this trail, I’ve wanted to do it. I am so excited I am practically running. My feet are like air, even though I have my heavy hiking boots on. In no time I get to a clearing in the woods, my family close behind me. Piper, my sweet dog, is panting. I take out her portable dish and fill it to the brim with water from my backpack’s blatter. She gulps it down and gets comfortable on a rock. I apply sunscreen and make sure my GoPro is still filming. 

“I am so excited!” I tell my mom. 

“I am not,” she says. I know she is kidding, but I can understand if she isn’t excited. The trail we are about to go on is zig zagging up the front of a mountain. It is all metal bridges and ladders all on a cliff. 

“Can we go now?” Landon asks. He, dad, and Piper are hiking up the back.

“I have an idea! How about we race up!” I suggest

“Yes! Winner gets ice cream!” Landon says. We get ready to go up the mountain.

The path splits ahead near an old pine tree that towers over the rest. I head toward a yellow sign with one thing on my mind, beating the boys to the top. 

“Emmy, wait,” my mom stopped me right by the yellow warning sign. “Let me get your picture.”

“Okay, make it quick.” She snaps a picture and we are on our way. 

We walk through a trail in the woods for what feels like an hour until we get to a set of rungs.

“Here we go,” I say under my breath as I begin to climb up the rusty rungs. At the top, there is a path that has a very sudden edge that if you fell off, you would die. A jolt of fear shoots through me as I step onto a wooden bridge. My nerves are lighting, full of energy. I turn around and see my mom grabbing a tree branch and walking across the bridge.

“You are insane to be enjoying this,” she says.

“It is scary, but fun! And look at the view,” I say. I only feel a little bad for making her do this with me. I keep walking until I get to another set of rungs. I turn around and look for mom. She comes around the corner.

“Slow down, Emmy!”

I start up the rungs, but mom stops me. 

“Smile!” she says. I stop and smile down at her. “Good! At the top wait for me. I want to get a picture of this view.”

I keep going up, and it seems like the rungs never end. I keep climbing until my legs feel like jello. I pause and take a break. I sip water from my backpack and decide to wait for my mom. The view is so beautiful. Just a couple minutes ago the sky was covered by clouds. Now I see everything clearly. I see Sand Beach and the parking lot. I even see our truck! Mom comes around the corner and I point out my sightings. 

“That's really cool!” she says.

I keep climbing and reach the final set of rungs. I step off the ladder and onto the top of the mountain. I take in the view for only a moment until I decide that I want to sit down. 

Landon and dad come around a corner on the trail and look seriously worried. I didn't notice this at first. I also don’t notice that Piper isn’t with them.

“We won! We won!” I say, but mom shoots me a look. I shut my mouth.

“Where is Piper?” mom asks. Landon bursts into tears.

“I had her on the leash and she was like a mountain goat climbing up those rocks. I wanted to be like her so I pretended to be a mountain goat. I let her go because she normally stays near me when we walk her at home, but this time she ran off. I am so sorry and I don't know where she is!” he says.

“It’s okay, we will find her,” mom says. 

“Landon, come with me. We will go look for her,” dad says.

I look around calling her name.

“Piper! Piper, come!”

All I see are trees and rocks. My heart starts pounding as I listen to the silence around me. I hear my heavy breathing from climbing the big rocks. I sit down and pull out a granola bar. Eating will distract me, right?

“It’ll be ok,” Mom says calmly, even though I know she is just as worried as I am. Then, out of nowhere, something hits me in the back.

The freedom of not being on a leash! I had forgotten what it felt like to be able to run without restraint. I leap over logs and rocks enjoying my independence when I suddenly realize what I am doing. I know that I have been a bad girl and I begin to head back. I make it to where I can see the trail when my leash gets caught on a log. I hear people calling my name. The stress gets to me. I jump around and pull on the log. All of my muscles are straining just to get to that opening. As I get closer I see Emmy and Mom. Emmy looks very upset and I know that she is worried for me. I try to bark but I am so tired, all that comes out is a whimper. I keep pulling until my log hits a tree. A few acorns fall and hit Emmy in the back. 

“Ow!” Emmy says. She whips around but doesn’t understand what hit her. After looking around for a second before she sees me. “Oh my gosh! Piper!” Emmy shouts.

“What?!” Mom says. 

They both run to untangle me from my mess of a situation. Once they untangle me I jump up onto them to say I’m sorry and thank you! 

“Piper,” mom says. Oh boy. I knew it was coming. “Do good girls run away?” 


“It’s okay, Piper,” Emmy says. “We are glad you are alright.”

“I need to call your dad,” said mom. 

While we wait for the boys, Emmy rubs my belly and plucks burrs from my coat. 

“I don’t know why you ran off, girl,” Emmy says. Well, that is a long story. Landon let go of my leash and I knew to stay there because I knew that if I ran off, I might not find my way back. But then, I see something move in the woods. I had no choice but to protect my family and fight away the monster. I bolt after it. It is not like anything I have seen before. With it’s long body and no limbs, slithering through the pine needles. It is really fast so I eventually lose sight of it. I still kept running even though I should have stopped.


Eventually we met up with the boys at the Bowl. It is a pond on the back of the Beehive mountain. I was so itchy from all the pine that when Emmy threw in the stick, I actually went and got it. With a little convincing, of course. I don’t usually go swimming. Emmy dropped a piece of her sandwich into the water, and a bunch of fish came up and ate it. Dad let Emmy drop only a couple more crumbs in before it was too much. After soaking in the sun and eating our sandwiches (I didn’t have one), we finished our long hike. In the car we argued about who won the race. The boys claimed they were up there looking for Piper, so we eventually decided that we all deserve something special, even me.  


With my head out the window, I smell the Maine breeze. It smells of pine and salt. I am sad to be leaving the place of my dreams with dog cookies, lakes, cars, and mountains. But I am glad to be going home. The sun is beginning to set and the sky turns an orangey pink. I step away from the window and lay down between my favorite humans in the world.

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