Hiking in the Mist

Reaching Botany Bay
By Brian Payton
  |  Gorp.com

Morning light pierces the canopy and warms the forest floor in a few, fortunate places. It is a welcome spotlight on hopeful seedlings and our little camp. Last night we picked a spot near a 15 foot fan of roots kicked up from a fallen cedar which now serves as a nurse log for countless other trees and shrubs. We had slept well beyond the reach of rogue waves.

Along the final four and a half miles we pass hikers speaking German and French, and senior citizens consulting bird books. The fresh hikers come bounding down the trail. Soon they will ache as we do. Curtis-Ray's knee is giving out and he hobbles stiff-legged toward the finish line. I slow down because if he doesn't make it I'll have to answer to his fiancie.

At Botany Bay, a half mile from the end, we shrug off our packs. The sun's rays perform a burlesque tease behind the withering mist as the waves provide the rhythm. A group of school kids scramble over sharp black rocks to tide pools crowded with crab, sea anemone and tightly packed monster mussels. Starfish, which run the color spectrum from violet to red, are stuck to each other in compromising positions. The clarity of the water and abundance of life is breathtaking. For a moment, we forget our aches and pains and rediscover our sense of wonder.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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