Long After The Moment Has Passed

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A still, overcast morning… the English village of Coniston not yet awake… resuming our walk on the Cumbria Way before breakfast… Kathy and I came upon a ewe and her lamb resting beside the trail. The serenity I experienced in that moment returns each time I view this picture, which is perhaps my favorite from that memorable trip.

Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity, that nothing is. —Thomas Szasz

 

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Love & Reverence

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Thoreau advised us to “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence,” and for me that is an uncomplicated choice—I’d be following a footpath in England, in May, crossing a field of bluebells hand-in-hand with my wife.

We’ve hiked there twice so far, strolling and (often) dawdling on both the Dales Way and the Cumbria Way. They are, of course, narrow and crooked in places, but there’s a blunt ruggedness, too, and emotions ranging from exuberance to remote loneliness. And they are wonderful places to find yourself.

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What will you discover around the next corner?

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The Long Views

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On the road to Dante’s View, in Death Valley NP

I stopped writing a list of New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like to waste paper. But if I did…visiting a new horizon every year, in very old and divergent places, would rank near the top.

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Part of the Cumbria Way, in the English Lake District
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A slick road on the Navajo reservation, near Shiprock, New Mexico
The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired, so long as we can see far enough. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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A Sunnier Day

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Like many places in the country, we need rain. Totals to-date are well below average. So, today, few people will complain as spring closes with brisk breezes and rain showers. But the weather did cause me to think about sunshine, and remember a day in England last year when we walked in the Lake District along the Cumbria Way.

The Cumbria Way, Nearing Coniston

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When least expected and boots are dragging, a trail marker will appear to encourage you on. The following gallery highlights the Cumbria Way’s changing personality along the first leg, from Ulverston to Coniston.

Trail Karma

I call it Trail Karma, and it began for us in 2008 when Kathy and I walked the Dales Way, ten days of fine green Yorkshire landscapes that ended overlooking Lake Windermere. We donned our rain gear one afternoon following a pub lunch, but threatening weather passed. And that was it—no rain. Eleven days (we took a rest day in Grassington). Afterwards, in Bowness and Bath, we participated in sudden downpours, but we’d traded day packs for umbrellas by then.

Now, five years later, would our good luck continue on the Cumbria Way?

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The footpath offered a variety of surfaces on the first day—simple tracks through sheep pastures, country lanes, rocky sections, boggy farm lots, and muddy bits where the previous week’s rain remained in evidence.

Coniston Water came into view from a sloping hillside above greening woods—not much farther, now. Another dry day, and warm, too. T-shirt weather. Knock on wood.

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Up And Away!

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Faster than you can say You haven’t posted anything in ten days, Kathy went up and over the first fence stile we’d meet on the Cumbria Way. This one had generously-sized steps (some are downright stingy with those), and she also benefited from the counter-balance seen in her left hand, Peter Jackson’s excellent walking guide to the Cumbria Way.

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Every year one reads accounts in English tabloids of People v. Bovine, wherein cows roust hikers walking an English footpath. While humorous images come to mind, the reality is they outweigh us and are more apt to act unpredictable, resulting in injuries (and rare fatalities) to walkers and their dogs. We’d crossed another field when this stile appeared, guarded by a bevy of bovines who, for that moment, found plentiful green grass more appealing than two Americans who didn’t dawdle in passing.

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Besides fence stiles and cows, another feature of the Cumbria Way is the working farms it crosses. I remain amazed that English landowners and recreationists (hikers) are able (with strong disagreements sprinkled in) to coexist and make walking the national treasure it is. As we threaded through the barnyard buildings in this one the owner gave us a nod and a “Hiya.” WARNING: Don’t try this in Texas.