The Precipice Trail – Acadia National Park


I thought the park authorities were joking. They were not.

This notice meant business. I can safely say that the Precipice Trail is one of the “one-slip-and-you-are-dead-with-multiple-fractures” kind of a hike. However this hike, when it is open to hikers, passes through sheer cliffs where peregrine falcons nest.

So I put on my shoes, gathered my courage, took my pair of binoculars and trudged out.

How to Deal with Short Ordeals

As I started climbing up the rocks I realized to my utter annoyance that the rubber treads in my shoes had worn out completely. Annoyance soon turn to horror as I realized the insanity of trying to climb sheer rock walls with that pair of sneakers creakers.

I finished the climb much like I watch horror movies.  I commit myself to the movie. Then with a bag of mental tricks that includes blurring my vision from time to time, thinking about behind-the-scenes movie making processes, bragging rights to friends afterwards etc. I make it through the movie at the end of which I am thoroughly convinced that the horror genre is just an excuse for sadistic dysfunctional humans to let loose their gory fantasies onto not-so-unsuspecting audiences.

From when has blood letting become synonymous with emotional catharsis? Masked maniacs are psychiatrists’ stock props now?

If you ask me all of them need therapy. They should all lie on couches staring at the vacant ceilings. And as they recount their traumas, should be drugged senseless, bound with coconut fiber ropes, on damp cement slabs. Oh but that is for another day.

The biggest trick to sail through a horror movie though is to start chewing on a nice big problem. Just as the paranormal events start unfolding on screen, during the mandatory child-levitation scene, or when the needlessly brave character detaches themselves from a group to walk into a pitch dark room to investigate the strange noise, hark back to your real life problems.

Some of my best decisions have been made coming straight out of a movie theater, like when I decided to buy a bright green pair of trousers to wear to work.

Snakes and Ladders

A small snake slithered across my path a few feet away from my toes. I stood still but I think the snake could hear the thumping bass of my heartbeat. Rhythmically squirming it jigged into the underbrush. The heartbeat could have been due to a number of very legitimate reasons. I had slipped and missed my footing a few times by then. My heart was in my mouth and after I had somehow steadied myself each time I still was left with the tingling tremors of close calls running from the back of my neck till my palms.


A hiker climbs up metal rungs on the rock face. It is as sheer as it looks. You can see the metal rods to help support hikers across the narrow ledge.


Overlooking the Gulf of Maine, the calm waters of the Atlantic Ocean form networks of ripples and currents distracting you, like alluring sirens, as you cling onto the rock face.


As I was climbing up, I was thinking back to recent coffee table conversations and online furores of friends,families and acquaintances over race, politics and other ills that plague the world. I have distanced myself from many such discussions because most threads are just excuses to vent prejudices.

Everybody seeks confirmation from stray details, outrage with horrendously hypocritical blase and willful ignorance. I have learnt to shut up and disengage with a mix of cowardice, cynicism and prudence.

I guess we all want to come across with a mutant Clint Eastwood-en steely determination combined with the sagacity of an Ambedkar. Assuredly we do not.

When someone switches from rabid anti-reservation rhetoric in India for dalits to embracing black lives matter in the USA in the same breath I almost spray out the yuppie beer I am drinking onto the macbooks arrayed in front of me. When Brexit brings out so articulately the uncertainty, fear, and alienation that immigrant and minority families feel in foreign lands but muslim intimidation in homelands is a necessary remorseless social step, I wish I can unlearn cognitive dissonance and make confetti out of psychology treatises. Where caste compulsions are touted as vegan lifestyles adopted out of choice but no incremental steps to disavow the dairy industry or make purchases based on ethical farming practices are made, I demur a re-invitation. When muslims and gays and hindus and christians all denounce and abet convenient fundamentalism, abhor common sense laws, wait till the other group reforms, want to abolish crime and rape and misogyny and corruption without bothering to educate themselves out of their willful ignorance, I slowly start sweating.When made up anecdotal evidences are thrown out as supporting data to generalize continental countries like India and the USA I stand by plotting how to effect my Irish Goodbye.

Sometimes I even climb snake infested mountains to take my mind off the mundane horrors of society.


6 thoughts on “The Precipice Trail – Acadia National Park

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  1. Madhu, this piece is a riot. I have been reading your posts everyday. Sometimes, I comment. Sometimes, I am too shy to say anything. But this post ridiculed my awkwardness, so I had to tell you that I loved this.

    And I learnt a word a couple of days ago. I saw the last picture and thought of it. Gorgeous photograph and that is a gorgeous word too.

    Rimi (from Old Norse).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Deepika, firstly, it is so wonderful for me to hear that you read these.. your comments come as a really welcome reminder that the posts are not just floating around in etherworld upto no good. Thanks so much! This ridiculed your awkwardness? If upto me, awkwardness would be a superpower and would rank above flight and invisibility. I’m still searching for the meaning of Rimi!!!!! Google is acting awkward! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t want you to think I am 15-year-old stalker. 😊

    So, I found the word here. Google does struggle. But humans don’t. In this instance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. whoo! Rimi, exactly!!!! This is like writing a full essay on a subject and you find a word that so beautifully captures the essence. Hahaha. No way. I have been reading your works and they are amazing. Both fractured light and Zennish Panda.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Now that you have written the phrase ‘Zennish Panda’, I feel like a legit teenage stalker. Sigh! 🙈

    Madhu, that word doesn’t belong to us. I don’t ever want to use that word. It is THAT beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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