Walk as if you are free.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
I wish I had a better camera to show you the stars overhead during my first 2 hours of walking in dark on roads free of lamp light. Elation accompanied the phrase "this is your birthright!" It dawned on me I had not walked under star cover in at least 20 years. And an orange sliver of moon at the horizon before the sun rose. So this is what I am missing to be fully human! A flash vision of what life could mean for me if I woke before dawn each day to walk under the stars.
My headlamp burned out, so I missed a street sign and had an accidental detour down 2 miles of a dead-end county road and back. I had no fear of being lost (I do this kind of thing all the time in life and have learned to rather enjoy accidental detours), but assumed incorrectly the road would eventually connect up to a road paralleling where I wanted to end up. For the entire walk under stars, I thought I was hearing the intermittent gurgle of a roadside stream (not unusual in these parts), so I kept focusing my little flashlight beam to the side -- until two hours later I realized it was the sloshing of the water bottles in my pack I was hearing! Another typical Erin experience.
The little video clip is from South Whidbey State Park where I was stopped by a beautiful bird call unfamiliar to me. I will look it up on a call identifier site, but if you know it, let me know. It was fabulous to be witness to the waking of the birds at dawn, like a sound switch is flipped. Unfortunately the timing coincided with car traffic, which made me long to hike in an area free of cars someday. ; )
Here is the route I intended to take:
Here is how far I got inclusive of detour:
I am happy with walking 8 hours and 18 miles and know what I would do differently next time to prevent the little toe incident that sidelined me. It was a last-minute decision to not carry an extra pair of shoes in my pack that is the culprit. A few years ago I landed in the ER for that same toe that does not fit any standard athletic shoes, and by mile 17, here was my thought process "Do I want to end up in a hospital to help a friend who is in a hospital?" Nope. So I called my dear mom who scooped me up from the road.
The hawk on a branch in the images below appeared just at the point I was considering ending my walk. As soon as I would approach the tree it was on, it would fly another 100 feet. It did this repeatedly, so I was able to make that last mile by following its encouragement. To me, hawks are powerful protective spirits, but another theory my mom pointed out is that it could have been perceiving my soon to be road-kill status and was simply an opportunist. LOL. Regardless I was glad for his company as I finished a lovely day of walking as if I was free.
Though I did not reach my intended mileage, I am thankful I arrived at one destination - to call attention to Crystal's fundraising page to help her and her two children at this time. May all facing cancer encounter equal opportunities for healing.