Back in 2011, I took my first walk on the Augusta Trail system in the Bond Brook Recreation Area. A great place but the wrong time of year. This story is from a late December day...

The Walk

When I walked out of the radio station this morning it was beautiful outside so I just kept walking...down Western Avenue to Sewall, Across Winthrop and all the way over to North Street where Augusta Public Works is located. I'd forgotten it had been named for former director John Charest. John, a great man and pillar of this community, passed away on Christmas day.

I encountered a very nice gentleman doing some work as I walked through the facility toward the entrance to the Bond Brook Recreation Trail System. The man told me "it's probably going to be muddy." Sure. I thanked him and walked up the steep, paved hill while talking breathlessly to my sister, Bonnie, on the phone about i-Tunes. It was relevent but I could barely hear her through my heavy breathing.

Once at the top of the hill, I let her go and began my trek into the wooded trails. A little spongy but not to bad. I continued for about a hundred yards before encountering another hill...this one unpaved and headed down. As I strode along down the steep bank, I felt the earth slipping around underneath my sneakers. I knew then this was going to get nasty. As the hill got more steep, the ground seemed to become softer. I felt myself picking up momentum as I headed down the trail....left, right, left, right, faster, faster, faster.....I knew If I put on the brakes, I'd be on my butt so I just let gravity carry me. By now, I was going about the speed of an Olympic sprinter. I heard myself say aloud as I chugged down over the hill, "this isn't going to end well."

Fast forward roughly ten seconds. As I'm looking around for my glasses, keys and cell phone I'm checking myself all over trying to deduce how upset Marie Anne is going to be when I present her with clothing covered in an inch of mud. I quickly dismiss the thought, however, because I realize that, with 40 pounds of extra weight on me at this point, I'm probably not going to get out of the woods.

I gathered my soiled belongings and pocketed them (except for my muddy glasses...I needed them to see the trail). Cautiously, I made my way down the hill and then, lo and behold, another hill to climb UP....this one had a layer of mud like the one I'd just come tumbling down. Slowly, deliberately, I made my way up the embankment and the end of the Augusta State Airport (your gateway to the skies) runway. My nice sneakers were about 10 pounds each. I hate to say this, but I'd rather have been snowshoeing at this point.

I got through the cemetery and back to the road which, eventually took me into the Augusta Plaza (where the station is and where I park). Did I mention that by this time it had gone from sunny and nice to cold, windy and rainy?

As I walked through the parking lot toward my Jeep, I passed a car with a man and woman in it, eating. I did a double take. I know that guy, I said to myself so I turned and walked back to his car. He smiled, rolled down the window and I extended my hand to shake his. "Long time," I say. "You're right," he responded. That ended the dialogue for about ten seconds as we looked at each other. As I'm running names through my mind it suddenly dawns on me that the man I thought this guy was is dead. Now what?

"I think I've mistaken you for somebody else," I told him. "That's ok," he said, still smiling. Again, I extend my hand and shake his. "I'm Jon James." "Nice to meet you...I'm Dave Hayden," he says.

I would have liked to have introduced myself to his wife (I presume it was his wife) but that would have been tantamount to saying, "Hi....I'm just a muddy idiot out walking and introducing myself to strangers who look like guys I knew who are now dead." Instead, I said "happy new year" and walked to my truck.

As I drove down the road I thought about my old friend John Charest. He was a great guy who loved to laugh and make others laugh. I couldn't help but think that he must have been sitting in Heaven chuckling at my mis-adventure near the facility that was named for him.

Well...that's my story. I need to go clap the mud off my sneakers now and try to get some of the caked mud off of my pants and jacket so I don't ruin the washing machine. And please, if you know Marie Anne, don't mention this. She's not on Facebook and, if I remember how to use the washer, she doesn't have to ever find out about this.