The dolls flew into Maryland and immediately set up camp at Grandma Lewis’s Catoctin Cabin:
They were most warmly welcomed by Grandma Lewis who asked many many questions about them, but they were thrilled to be part of so many conversations and delighted with all the trees and plants inside and outside of the house. Katelynne and Camille had visited here once and they had told all the dolls of the fairy magic that existed within and without the house and all five dolls could sense that magic now too, although it was quiet because autumn was on the way.
“Are you ready to hike?” Makena asked.
“I’m ready to hike to an adventure!” Evette said, “How about you, McKenna?”
“Well….I want to go, and I’m all ready, but….do you remember when our Grandma Huttenburg got really sad and lonely because a bunch of dolls went off to the fall festival but Grandma H couldn’t come and she was left all alone? Well, I don’t want that to happen to Grandma Lewis, especially since we first met her! How terrible of us that she opens up her heart and house to us and we go and abandon her! I will stay and keep her company in the kitchen.”
“You’re so sweet, McKenna. I think that’s a good idea and I give you my thanks for sacrificing the trip for her.”
Evette and Makena went off to Catoctin National Mountain Park. The ranger at the visitor center noticed Evette’s Junior Ranger Badge.
“Hey, you’re in the wrong park!” she said.
“Whaa..?” Evette looked puzzled but then she understood, “Oh….yeah, this badge is from Missouri. My friend Lea, went there and got a badge for climbing the Gateway Arch. She wanted to lend it to me because she knew I was going to another national park.”
The ranger smiled, “Well, I think you need an accurate one.”
She reached down to Evette, unpinned the Archway Gate badge and pinned a Catoctin Junior Ranger badge to the flap of her backpack.
Evette was utterly thrilled. She couldn’t wait to hike up every mountain and climb over every rock in Catoctin Mountain Park with that badge gleaming on her chest!
“What trail are we going to do?” Makena asked.
“Let’s do all of them!” Evette said.
“Let’s try Wolf Rock first. That’s supposed to be one of the best trails.”
“Can you imagine these rocks used to be sand once,” Evette said.
“Sand! Teeny tiny sand!?” Makena bent down and looked at the rock her foot was sitting on. She almost thought she could see the miniscule grains of sand that made up the rock. Compressed, crystalized sand. Who knew a rock could be so incredible to look at and wonder about?
Then suddenly – “Look! There’s Wolf Rock!”
The dolls climbed up to it and looked around.
“Well that’s too bad….the view is all green.” The trees had grown taller than the rocks and blocked any kind of view they might see.
“I guess it’s better than white?” Makena asked. She’d heard about the other mountain hiking story where the only view that could be seen on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains was white fog.
“I guess we’ll have to try a different trail.”
“Let’s try Chimney Rock trail. That’s supposed to have beautiful views.”
They hiked in the heavy humidity and climbed over rocks and sweated and huffed and puffed but this time they were rewarded with a lovely view:
“Wow…the clouds make the mountains look like a different world!” Makena said.
By this time, Makena was feeling funny in her legs. She had always hated going down. She was so terrified of falling. She felt she could go up all the time, but going down was sometimes uncontrollable. Her legs were shaking and she was so thirsty. She had used up all her water way back at Wolf Rock.
She started to pass by some berries that looked so tremendously ripe and sweet and delicious. Even if she had one of them, it would feel so wonderful to have such moisture in her mouth.
“I wonder what kind of berries those are,” Evette read her mind with that question.
“Maybe they’re wild blueberries!” Makena wished. She was quite certain they weren’t because blueberries didn’t grow like those berries did. But she wished so much they were, that she took one and popped it in her mouth.
“You just ate one!?!” Evette cried.
“It’s kinda sweet….but it’s definitely not a blueberry.”
“Of course it’s not a blueberry! I wish you weren’t so impetuous. You scare me sometimes!”
“Oh, Evette, it’s fine!” Makena said.
But as they continued hiking, Evette’s misgivings got stronger. At the end of their hike, she asked another ranger what those berries could be.
“They are pokeberries!”
“Pokeberries!” Makena repeated, amused. She didn’t remember anything pokey on the plant to warrant the name.
“They are VERY poisonous.”
Makena wasn’t amused anymore, “Poisonous?”
Evette immediately whipped her phone out: “‘Eating several berries can cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Serious gastrointestinal problems have occurred, including bloody vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and low blood pressure and can lead to death,'” Evette read. Makena’s amusement disappeared. A lump in her throat and a pounding of her heart betrayed what she so wanted to deny.
She swallowed hard. “Is there anything I can do?”
Evette shook her head as her thumbs swiped her phone, “There’s nothing you can do…we’ll just have to hope and pray you don’t get sick.”
Makena felt quite awful now. Evette already had a lot to think about and now she was adding the worry of possibly having to go to the emergency room, “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not something you have to apologize for….I just wish for you to think before you go and do crazy things in the woods!”
Makena had a hard time shaking off her guilt but she knew she had to because it would be so very easy to allow that to spark her terrible fear that she might have intense pain and maybe even…death? From eating one berry? ugh! Now I know what Eve felt when she ate the apple!
“Look! It’s the state’s flower! The black eyed Susan!” Evette pointed.
Makena was grateful for the distraction. The flowers were so pretty.
“Hey look over there – it’s a green rock!”
“Oh wow, this might be greenstone!” Evette got excited, “This might have been lava, 500 million years ago that eventually cooled to basalt. Later, this was covered by an ocean!”
“So it’s green! Wow!” Makena was so grateful for all these distractions.
They hiked under and over huge rocks and tall trees. They climbed over smaller rocks and leapt over logs.
At last they reached Cunningham Waterfalls.
The Waterfall was not the great falls they had expected because everything was so dry, so much of it was all rock and no water. But they continued hiking where there was water to a beautiful canal where all different kinds of lilies grew.
“Look at these lily pads! They’re as big as elephant ears!”
Indeed, some of them even had edges like big pizza pans.
“Ooh, look! These stick up and these make a little mound.”
“Ooh Evette! Look at this one! It’s such a beautiful flower!”
All of the flowers that grew on and off the water were so beautiful and delicate.
“What a most wonderful hike! And…guess what?” Makena said, looking far happier than she’d looked for the past 5 hours.
“I haven’t felt sick for over five hours so I think I’m passed the point of being pricked by the pokeberry!”
“You are so lucky!” Evette said.
“Yes, by the grace of God…” Makena sheepishly mumbled. She’d never eat another wild berry in the woods again.
Behind the Scenes
I went to Catoctin National Park and Cunningham Falls State Park, Sugarloaf Mountain Park, and walked along the canal at Frederick where the lily pads were with my most wonderful Aunt who travailed and persevered in sweat, heat and humidity all because I wanted to go hiking and she loved me enough to come with! And yes, I did indeed feel just like Makena and I ate a pokeberry and freaked out for the next 5 hours wondering if I was going to die! Thank God I was fine! And just like Makena, I will never eat a wild woodberry again!
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