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A Glorious Evening for an Adventure

September 21, 2016

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Two days before the autumn equinox, I arrived at Ebey’s Landing early in the evening to hike the trail. As I climbed the steps and started across the fields, I realized that the last time I had been here was at the summer solstice. Junebugs – ugly things, but fascinating – were popping out everywhere. Now, as I stopped and looked back, there were fields covered with golden stubble. Others, green from the recent rains, were dotted with plastic wrapped hay bales, scattered like white thimbles across the fields. This time, I had brought my cell phone and put on knee braces. An old lady out hiking alone has to learn to take precautions….

As we started up the bluff to the ridge trail, it was 5:30.  I figured we’d make the end of Perego Lagoon and the beginning of the descent to the beach around 6:30. But with Sophie the dog poking her nose into every single trail turnoff and my slow pace, I soon realized that wasn’t going to happen. Never mind…it was a lovely evening. A tug chugged by below, pulling a scow full of what looked like engine parts. As I trudged up and down along the ridge, I recited lines from my show, “Rebecca”. I stopped to admire the view… a view that was much the same when Rebecca Ebey settled here in 1852. A large flock of geese flew low over the water in a curious Y shape. Their honking sounded more than a bit weary as they flew up the beach and over the fields. But they followed their leader as s/he circled the fields to find exactly the right spot. As the flock landed, the honking stopped and, unless you knew where to look, it was really hard to see them. As I stopped to rest, I drank in the view. Dear God, this is a beautiful place!!

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Finally, about 6:45, we looked down on the last pool of the lagoon and the descent to the beach. The feet and knees were holding up pretty well. But when we finally finished winding down the hill to the beach, I discovered that the tide was higher than I expected. Waves were washing all the way up the beach to the driftwood piles. I was tired, but this was no time to rest. I needed to get past the headland to a calmer part of the beach before the waves got any higher.

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Sophie and I sprinted from one dry patch to another. Several times the waves caught us and soon I was wet – and cold – from the calves down. Not wanting to fall, I picked my way along as carefully as I could. But the waves were getting bigger and sometimes I had to leap onto the driftwood piles to avoid getting soaked. With the extra exertion, my shirt was becoming damp with sweat; I pulled my jacket tighter around me to avoid getting chilled by the wind. We startled several large clumps of gulls huddled on the driftwood. As they scattered in front of us, their cries sounded almost like protests; there weren’t supposed to be humans on this part of the beach at this hour. I scanned the water, looking for the telltale bulge that signaled a big wave  – and suddenly remembered  Granny’s long ago warning: never turn your back on the sea. And, I muttered, take a look at the tide charts before you go….

But we made it around the headland and into calmer seas. As I slowed down, I realized how tired I was. I turned to watch the sun – an orange ball in the sky – begin to sink. At 7:15, it sank and we were still walking. My feet were beginning to hurt. As I stumbled along, I spied a rock,  beautifully marbled – white and grey. I picked it up and feeling it in my hand helped propel me that last quarter mile.

Panting hard, I staggered toward the car like an old drunk. I opened the door and fell into the seat, fumbling around to get my knee braces off. A chill went down my back and I shivered. The wind was picking up and it was getting colder. I closed the door, and as the windows steamed up, I looked out at the sea. Close to shore just beyond the reeds, a seal’s head popped up. I looked up at the mountains etched blue against the golden glow of the sky. I was wet, exhausted, covered with sweat, and ravenously hungry. But it had been FUN!

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