At long last, my friend Lauren and I took our 3-month-overdue trip to Walden Pond. In April, we didn’t even know whether we were driving, taking the train, or good ol’ hitching a ride (probably not)–all we knew was, we were getting there one way or another.
Why we wanted to go, you ask? Before I ever met Lauren, in different regions, without knowing either of us ever existed, we read Henry David Thoreau’s essay on the pond. And the first time we met, the essay was what sparked our friendship. So, it was only right we took the trip.
I expected everything about the pond to be like the book. Foolish? Just a bit. I imagined smoke blowing through the chimney of the quaint little cabin, facing the pond. The pond, empty with one canoe waiting for me. Man, was I in for a surprise.
The pond that I read about had become a beach. People with beach towels, ice boxes, and frisbees had crowded. And the room that was left on the front side of the pond was filled with pretentious fishermen who brought 11-foot rods to fish a pond. 11-foot!! That’s the size used to fish off the shore!
Once we finished being disgusted at the people who had transformed the pond, Lauren and I went off the trail and jumped into the pond where the shore was only big enough for two people. We swam, read our favorite passages from the essay, and embraced the pond the only way we knew how to. But there they were again, the crowd had found us and one-by-one they were crowding our little shore. So, without blinking an eye, we left.
Although the little time spent in the pond was very memorable, it’s where the next trail led us to is what I will remember the most.
Since we were tired of the damn people, we went off trail once again to go astray. Not even a moment in and I started to hear a clunking sound with a rhythm. Seconds later, the sound multiplied. And we finally got to put a picture to the clunking, when three park rangers, on their almost 7 or 8-foot horses, rode past us. We thought we would be in trouble for going off trail, but they just gave us a nod and went on their way.
We kept walking, not knowing we were near train tracks, and saw an old-fashioned train speeding by us. I knew where we were going to next. The tracks! We decided that we’ll walk the tracks as long as we keep a watch for trains and just like that, we took our sauntering to the train tracks as we basked under the sun. We walked for nearly 40 minutes; but, honestly, we lost track of time, thanks to our conversations about dogs being fluffy, not fat.
The sky was clear, I had good company and, most importantly, it was just the two of us. For a moment, I thought I was in Stand By Me, all that was missing was a dead body, right? (no we never found a dead body).
All was going great until we began feeling the tracks vibrating. We should’ve gotten off then and there, but I wanted to keep walking until we could see the train or hear its horn. And we heard it alright. The sound of the horn sounded like an angry elder yelling at us for being stupid. But I seemed to listen to the yelling and got out of the way.
After the train passed, we left the tracks and got on the path of the outskirts of the trail which eventually led us to the car. I never did say goodbye to Walden. But by then, I figured, what I came expecting from the pond was what I discovered on the train tracks.
– Elisha Asif