March 26 (7:00 – 15:45)
Sweetwater Park – Magnolia Promenade (22 mi)
Total C2C miles: 123.5
Weather: Cold, cloudy, partly sunny – rain in the morning and evening
I wake to see the roof of my tent sagging in, and I get up when it’s still a little dark. A puddle becomes an ocean on the top of my tent, and I’m out just in time before it crashes down, water everywhere.
There’s nothing for it, but to pack up and head out.
Sometimes it’s peaceful, and sometimes, it’s not. It would be peaceful if I could get my mind around it, relax, accept the rain, and realize, hey. I’m waterproof.
But when it’s so cold, when breakfast is a handful of raisins and nuts, and my socks are wet, and my heels are getting blisters, I wonder what I’m doing.
What made me think I was up for this?
Why am I leaving, anyway?
Why walk across the country?
And then the rhythm starts in again, step after step, and my body heat rises, and my soggy socks dry somehow, and the sun pokes out.
I find a spot mid-morning, with the sun so bright. I spread out my tent and my wet clothes on a rock. I change into dry things. I rummage through my pack and make a decent snack of a wrap spread with peanut butter and apple slices. It tastes good cold.
This is why I’m doing this. I find a kind of freedom here. I’m not separate from the patterns of weather. Whether it rains or shines has a good deal with what I need to do, with how I feel.
Behind it all, there’s a silence.
I don’t feel this silence when I am bound up with the daily fabric of the world of people around me. Then, there’s always a hum of “what-to-do-next,” “where-to-go,” “what-to-buy,” “who-to-see.”
But now, all I have to do each day is walk and care for myself so that I am in good shape for the walking.
Around mid afternoon, my trail has led me along the river, through the meadows to the bayside town of Magnolia, across the water from the city of Stanton.
I wonder if the trail’s silence will follow me, now that the path wends along the road, and skyscrapers poke the bellies of clouds on the other side of the bay.
The streets are wet, and somehow, it is the puddles that connect me back to rhythms of the trail.
The same rain fell here that fell on the meadows.
On the dock, I spy Stanton Sisters Cupcakes, a franchise famous throughout this region. Stanton Red Velvet Cupcakes have been featured on tv shows and gourmet magazines.
I’m getting one.
I order pasta from the food booth, too, and find a park bench in sliver of sun.
The courtyard is empty, so while I eat, my trail-side silence sits next to me, and I feel like I have a tiny bit of home here with me, in this place I’ve never been.
After my early dinner, I look out over the bay. I could walk on. It’s not even 4:00 p.m. yet.
But I feel peaceful and drowsy. Stanton Sisters sell spiced hibiscus tea, and I sit on the dock waiting for sunset.
I can sleep here. It’s a thruhiker-friendly town. The steamboat docked here is a B’n’B, and they open a few rooms for thruhikers, so we can shower or even sleep inside, if we want, and they let us set up our tents on the dock.
I’ve read on hiking blogs that during the peak season, the dock fills with thruhikers’ tents. I’m the only one tonight.
I can’t sleep. I wonder how I ever slept when we lived in the city, with people all around.
I never felt lonely on the trail, but here, with the voices of people sashaying down from the corner bar, I feel isolated. I listen for silence, and I find it in the sky, behind the clouds. That’s what I hold in my mind as I crawl into my tent and lay in my sleeping bag with my eyes open.