August 22/23, 2019
“I’m going to call this Horrible Hill!” says John as we pace up the hill on the shoulder of US101. He must not be using Regina’s Meet the Mountains Technique, I thought. It wasn’t the elevation change bothering him, though, it was the threat of zooming trucks veering over the white line on the narrow shoulder. I agree, roadwalking is not fun, and this stretch bothers me too. It’s 2 p.m. on a Friday between the beach towns of Neskowin and Lincoln City. We were on a 4-mile stretch of the trail where there’s no trail. The official route follows the U.S. highway.
Our memories were still fresh of the 6-mile road walk the prevoius evening. The pang of that four-hour road walk was raw because we had missed our chance at getting a boat ride across the Neskowin River to skip it. Both of us had hoped the other one was asking the boaters for a ride when neither was. We did have the chance to talk about that while we walked along the busy two-lane highway, though.
Today’s walk is similar. Sometimes there’s a shoulder. Often, there’s not. Often the road curves so drivers can’t see us. It’s not safe. We persist. “How can they call this a trail when there’s no place to walk?” I grumble silently, sometimes out loud.
An hour into the walk, we see a mowed hay field we could cut across. Squish! Down in the ditch of tall grass that we must cross, John steps in a creek. I get to miss that. The field is lumpy, but it’s safer than the road. We rejoice that fifteen minutes’ walk takes us safely back out to our road. At dusk, we reach the return to the beach and cap off the day with tenting on the beach, tucked beyond the tide line in the dune grass. The roar of the ocean surf is a welcome respite from the roar of the traffic.
On Friday’s walk between Neskowin and Lincoln City, up Horrible Hill, we got a break a couple of miles in. The official trail turned off into Cascade Head Science Research Area. We started out with 1.5 miles on the Forest Service Road, then turned off on dirt trail through the lush, green rainforest. I’m sad to say, though, that I was so caught up in my grumbling about having to walk 3.7 miles through the forest then another 3.5 on the road to reach our hotel goal for the night, 7.2 more miles and it’s already 4 o’clock, that I pay only slight attention to the forest.
Our Victim Story builds when John, thinking I’m not waiting for him as I’m charging ahead athletically to the goal, catches up and says, “I’m thinking of getting off in Lincoln City and going to get the van. Then, I’ll do car support for you so you can finish the trail.”
I’m stunned! He’s the one who is focused on completing any trail he does! I hold my tongue for a minute, then say, continuing my pace, poking my trekking poles into the ground to dissipate my frustration, “I hear what you say, and I have no response!” My terse remark has wisdom behind it. I know that quitting a long term plan on a bad day is unwise. But, I now know that John is uncharacteristically wavering and I won’t fuel the doubt!
“What if we just stop this march and camp in this forest?” I muse to myself. I start looking for a flat spot. The forest is impenetrable with underbrush and no camping is allowed (Which is another rant about newly formed trails!). Fifteen minutes later, with probably another forest mile to go, I see an opening! Thick moss blankets little patches of flattish ground. “What if we stop here for the night?” I suggest. “I have no plan any more,” John says dispassionately and follows me off the trail.
Our spirits are uplifted during that respite of quiet green. The towering trees, dripping with Spanish moss, catching dappled golden patches of evening sunlight soothe my resentment. I rest, running the words of The Thirteen Steps to Radical Forgiveness through my head. Am I willing to see perfection in this situation? Is there an opportunity to learn and grow here? Yes. I let Spirit do the work of providing a suggestion of how.
At 3 a.m. I wake up still thinking. I listen to the tracks from Walk for a Singing Heart. Barbara’s songs and the three exercises shift my perspective to openness to a new way of seeing the roadwalking and of being in the roadwalking. I don’t know exactly what that will look like. I don’t have a clear plan, but I acknowledge that I probably have more choices in this situation than I had realized. I sleep again and wake up, still in awe of this amazing forest and emboldened by our willingness to rest here.
Saturday provides a clean slate!