For a near five-month stretch, my life was so busy and full that not only did I have to cut back my five-day-a-week gym routine and near daily walks with my dog Dunkin, I even stopped washing my car.

Actually, I have to take that last part back. In the middle of a rain storm back in June or July I washed my car. I started washing, it started raining and I kept washing.

It’s a painful thing for me to see my car with that dusty, slimy film all over it and enough dirt on the drivers side floor to fill the pot holes in my driveway.

Once things wound down with the house renovations and there was less and less for me to do aside from paint walls that’d been sanded the final time or mow our lawn, I decided I was going to not just get back into the swing of things at the gym, but I was going to get ready for a 5-kilometer race.

Before the chaos started last spring, I could pump out an easy ten or 15 miles on a run. Two weeks before Labor Day, I was lucky to squeak out a piddly two miles.

For the past month, I’ve been building back up to where I was in April. Considering I’d been lucky to hit the gym once a week for four and a half months, it wasn’t easy. I didn’t make my target goal of getting into the 9/11 Memorial 5K run in Rockland, but I didn’t think I would. I kept plugging along though.

Feeling good with where I was at, and armed with a new assignment for work that involved hiking — and a lot of it at that — I set out for what I quickly knew would be the test to see just how far I’d progressed in such a short time.

I trekked across a few of the trails I knew in Waldo County, keeping track of the times it took me to complete each one. I found myself impressed with my times, but bummed I didn’t run into anyone to snap photos of for our publication.

With a little under 10 miles under my belt already that afternoon, I headed for the Camden area and the many trails I used to run —  yes run — frequently.

Although I was working, and although I was also using the “work” to strengthen my legs and test myself, I also had other plans. I’d planned to finally make it to the cliff. Maiden’s Cliff.

I’ve lived in the area my entire life. Hiked almost every trail in the Knox County area. Every time I parked my car in the Maiden’s Cliff trail parking lot on Route 52, I would always hike the Mount Megunticook summit trail. I’d stop once in awhile at the fork in the trail and contemplate the cliff, but I always ventured on to the little more than two-mile trek to the summit of Mount Megunticook.

That day, at first I did head off to Mount Megunticook, it’s summit, and it’s stunning views. Although at that point in the afternoon, it seemed I was the only one enjoying those views as I was the sole person at the top. I didn’t feel like sharing the views that reached far beyond Knox County.

Back at the fork, I looked to the path that led to the big white cross I’d seen so many times swimming in Megunticook Lake or driving up and down Route 52. I checked my camera battery, which informed me it was almost time for a charge, slung it back over my shoulder and set off for the Maiden’s Cliff.

During my hike, I met an extremely furry and happy puppy named Bogart. He, for a little while, seemed torn between coming and saying “Hi” to me and heading back to his owner who called out his name. I pat him on the head and informed him I was on a mission. He seemed to be okay with it and went off in the direction of his owner’s voice.

Once I reached the cross, I couldn’t help but stand there for a few minutes and admire what I saw before me. The Camden Hills, Megunticook Lake; beauty. The photos I’d seen did nothing close to justice to what I saw with my own eyes.

The stories vary from person to person about what the cross represents and what happened on that cliff. The actual story of what happened is of Elenore French. French’s bonnet was caught by the wind and sent tumbling over the cliff and when she tried to catch it, she herself went over as well. There are stories about the Maiden who jumped to her death over a broken heart among others.

At that point in time, the cross and the stories didn’t matter. I hoisted myself down the cliff a little and parked myself on a rock just over the road below and stared at what was around me.

It’s a moment like that in which I feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful area.

Back at the parking lot, I loaded my camera into it’s bag and glanced back at the trail. It wasn’t all the miles I’d hiked that day, although there had to have been near 20, if not more. It wasn’t that I was able to hike all of the trails I did that one day in their entirety without rest (other than to take a photo of a hollowed out tree or a bird).

It was that I couldn’t believe that I was almost 27 years old and I’d finally hiked to the cliff.