Great Northern Loon


I lie in my tent and it is so black that I almost can’t tell that my eyes are open. I am wondering how far my legs will take me on this hike because everything hurts. Exhausted, I close my eyes and listen to the noises of the night. Bugs and the cracking of tree branches are standard. I can even hear a few other Appalachian Trail hikers whispering nearby. Then things get quiet and I fall into a light sleep.

At dawn I wake to the strangest howling. I know immediately that it is a loon. Its mournful cry the only sound to be heard for miles. There is a little light entering the tent and I dread heading out into the cold when it is time to wake up. So I soak in the sound of these black and white birds with long beaks. They are probably floating happily on the nearby lake diving for fish. I expected to hear them in Maine but I did not expect them to sound so beautiful. They don’t sound like a woman wailing or a crazy person screaming. They are haunting only in the perfection of the clear, long music that calls out to the deep corners of your soul to embrace the wilderness in all its strangeness.

*Loon photograph taken by Acrylic Artist

7 thoughts on “Great Northern Loon

  1. sue cashman

    Ooooh! I wish I could be there with you! Where are you on the AT? Did you get to see the bird when you were packing out?

    1. znara Post author

      We were in Maine at Rainbow Lake, I think, in the hundred mile wilderness. And yes, we got to see the birds often on this section of trail.

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