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Crawford Path Overnight, Bald Mtn - page 6 of 6

By this time we were hungry, so after stopping for gas, we drove to McDonald’s in Lincoln to get some lunch. The drive-through was backed up all the way around the building, so I parked in front and went inside to order. When I got back out, I was really ready to get going. I got in and put the key into the ignition. But instead of turning as I had expected it to, there was a sickening click as the lock snapped back into the locked position, something it hadn’t done for months, even when I had tried to lock it.

I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that this was happening after I had already worked so hard to get back into the car with the bent antenna at the Cannon Mountain Ski Area. The implications were grim. Before, all I had had to do was get into the car. Now, I faced the possibility of not being able to get the car started and being stranded in Lincoln. I didn’t have that much money on me, and Muffin was beginning to shiver as the car suddenly grew deathly cold and lifeless. The snow began to fall.

I banged at the ignition and jiggled the key around, willing it to turn, but it would not. We were stuck for sure, and I didn’t know what to do about it. We’d survived a night alone in the mountains just fine, now here were back in civilization and I couldn’t manage to drive the car home. Remembering that the stupid car phone couldn’t make or receive calls in this area, I went over the outdoor pay phones and looked up “Locksmith” in the yellow pages. The closest locksmith seemed to be in Campton, a couple of towns south.

A half hour later, the locksmith showed up. He worked on it for at least an hour, removing the locks from the rear and driver’s doors to examine them, and then trying every combination of key cuts in the book with no luck. He had another call to make at Loon Mountain, so Muffin and I rode there with him, then went into the lodge and called Toi at Rocking Horse Ranch. She had the other key for the car with her, so she faxed a picture of it to the Loon Mountain Lodge. After an unsuccessful attempt at making a key for the guy who was stranded at Loon, we drove back to our car and he tried again, using the faxed picture to help him. Unfortunately, he was still unable to make a key that would start the car.

I considered my options. It was now about 8 PM. If I had Toi’s key, I was sure I’d be able to start the car and drive home. But how long would it take for Toi to send the key to me? It was Saturday, and I’d have to wait at least until Monday, even if she sent it Federal Express. There was a bus to Boston in the morning, but it cost more than I had on me and they wouldn’t take Muffin anyway. I could call someone I knew back in Westboro, but who the heck would want to drive all the way here in a snowstorm and then back again. I could also hitchhike, but that could be dangerous, especially in the dark, and there was no guarantee we’d even get a ride. After stopping next door at the gas station, which was also the bus stop, the teenage girl behind the counter suggested the Shuttle Connection, a local hiker’s taxi service that also made runs to Logan Airport and other more distant destinations. I called them; they were expensive, but they would take a check, they didn’t have a problem with the dog and all my backpacking and climbing gear, and they could come get me around 9 o’clock. I made my decision. By midnight, we were home again, without the car of course, but at least we were home.

Two Days Later

On Monday afternoon, I rode the train into Boston, then took the bus from Boston to Lincoln with Toi’s key in my possession. Yet again, I sat in the car at McDonald’s with the key in the ignition and tried to turn it. But even though it was the right key, it still wouldn’t turn. My heart sank. Would I have to go through this all over again? I rushed next door to the gas station and bought a can of WD40, saturating the lock, the steering column, and a good deal of the carpeting underneath. I banged at the ignition and jiggled the key around, willing it to turn, but still it would not. I was ready to scream. Back at the gas station, the same teenage girl who had helped me on Saturday called a local garage. It was late, around 8 o’clock, but luckily the guy was still there working on his own car.

He towed it back to his garage, expecting to have to wait until morning to put in a new ignition. But he decided to play around with it for a few minutes anyway, just in case. Sitting in the waiting room, I could hear him getting out tools and banging on something, then more tools and more banging. But suddenly, I heard a different sound, the beautiful sound of an automobile engine starting. He must have started his own car, I thought at first, not wanting to believe a miracle may have occurred. But somehow his efforts had been successful, and I was soon on my way home.

The drive was relaxing and easy, with a clear night sky and no traffic. I pulled into our driveway around 11:30. The saga of the never-ending hike was now officially over.

 

Map

   Crawford Path-Bald Mtn page: 

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