A Certain Amount Resistance To The Forces Of Light And Heat

8 June 2012
3:05pm

Brockweir. I made it to Brockweir. There was some question. Not quite sure how many miles that was, but it was mostly vertical in one direction or another. It was also muddy as hell for much of it. Some small wonderful portions were nice, but many were just ankle-deep mud pits for yards.

I only slipped on my ass 3 times, the last time I made it down the final 10 yards of a particularly tricky stretch the fast way. I’m pretty sure I set a new league record in amount of that damn hill that I wore into a pub. I’m just covered head to toe. Right now I’m sitting on their patio, transferring some of that mud to them. I actually took my shoes off to give my feet a chance to breathe.

Oh, and I think I slipped into poison ivy. My right forearm is tingling. I’ll wash it again before I leave.

There were some absolutely terrifying moments along the way as well. In many places you are 2-250 feet above the Wye. When you’re on the Dyke itself, that means that to my left was a step hill that ran all the way down to it. Not quite a cliff, that hill. Not quite. Oh, and did I mention it was muddy? Yeah, you try walking on a 2-3foot wide muddy path filled with roots and stones with a huge drop-off to one side without getting nervous. Or in my case, terrified.

For the next stretch I have two options. One is more direct but over a hill and the guidebook says that it is difficult in some stretches when wet. That part is difficult and getting down from the Devil’s Pulpit wasn’t? In the immortal word of Dongal, “Huh.”

So I’m taking the longer stretch that goes along the Wye. I expect it to be muddier, but it’s essentially level.

Oh, and while I got a few awesome pictures of Tintern Abbey from the top of the hill, I did not make it to Tintern. There’s a path that diverges in the woods to Tintern, but it’s basically directly down the hill. I had enough problems with the shallow route, thank you. I could go back to it, but I really don’t have time to add yet two more miles today. I need to be in Bigsweir by 6ish.

I’m waiting now for some lunch at the Brockweir Inn, where they’re just chuckling at my muddiness, not mad. Thank you very much. And they have the first pale ale I’ve run into so far.

At least the music has been good.

One Little Victory popped up. This seems a perfect choice actually. The boys wrote that after they came back from the tragedy of Neil’s wife and daughter, which not surprisingly sort of destroyed Neil’s view on life. It’s a recognition of his growth and survival and the growth and survival of Rush as a while. “Another chance at victory, another chance to score, a measure of the moment, in a difference of degrees, just one little victory, a spirit breaking free.”

It’s the kind of thing that I need to think about. I mean, I turn 44 in about a week and I don’t have a whole lot to hang my hat on. Two failed marriages. A semi-successful career in computers, but that time has passed. A failed career in academics. I have hopes and plans, but right now it’s hard to put much faith in them. As Mal said, “You notice anything about our luck lately? Any kind of pattern?”

I’m trying not to be on the drift, but it’s hard when I think about things sometimes. How the hell did I let a marriage fail in 11 months? I mean, really, I didn’t even get to celebrate *an* anniversary. How the hell did I not realize the nature of my choices in 2003 in terms of jobs? The information was there, but I didn’t see it.

So right now I’m looking for every little victory that I can get. Making it up a hill (and let me tell you there were some hills today, hills that rival Macedonia). Making it through a muddy patch. Making it to a vista, such as the ones overlooking Tintern Abbey. Those were stunning, and yes I have pictures. Making it from Brockweir to Bigsweir. One step before the other, making it the next mile.

Hopefully these will lead to bigger victories. Writing something along the way, besides Medb’s scroll, which is starting to take shape in my mind. Actually keeping up with this schedule, at least for the most part. The mud does slow things down and it doesn’t look like I’ll make a two mile stretch from Bigsweir to Redbrook. I’d feel worse but for the mud and also because I’m doing the long option to get to Bigsweir. Well, all that and my feet hurt :).

OK, I’ve finished lunch. I’ve a certain degree of determination, staring on a different course.

One more step. One more song. One more little victory.

*********
8 July 2012
10:15

Grrrr, I just had this typed out but my tablet lost it. Trying again.

Made it to Bigsweir and ultimately the Florence. I was soaked. I am tired. It was an adventure. More to come tomorrow, probably of all of that. I didn’t quite make it to my end point, but I did walk 10-11 miles. Yes, I’m sore. Honestly, if it had not been for the mud I think I would have made it. Yeah, there were slow stretches, but many of the muddy slow parts were places that I might have made up time if they hadn’t been kilometer-long mud puddles.

I’m supposed to make it 14.5 miles tomorrow. We’ll see how much farther past Monmouth, which is about halfway, that I get to tomorrow. I might just take Mahault’s advice and see the Nelson museum there. At this point, I’ll get where I get, and I hope tomorrow’s landlords will get me there 🙂

While I would have loved to have had someone on this trip, Kate would not have enjoyed it. So far, I’ve seen too many places where she might have lost her camera, but also even more places where she would have been bereft without it. The overlook over Tintern comes to mind.

I am not mountain climbing, but it ain’t far away at times. Going up in the mud is interesting but not especially difficult. Going down? Chinese-freaking-curse interesting.

For now, though, I’m exhausted. I need to review tomorrow’s route and get some sleep.

PS I’m not sure after Monmouth if I will find WiFi before Hay-on-Wye on Wednesday. Don’t panic if I don’t post.

9 thoughts on “A Certain Amount Resistance To The Forces Of Light And Heat”

  1. Oh muddy hikes! I miss muddy hikes! 🙂 I haven’t been hiking since last fall (even if the weather here were pleasant enough to want to be outdoors, I’ve got no balance and it would be more waddling anyway). Wet weather hiking is what synthetic fabrics were made for – I usually wear mens swim trunks to hike so that I can hose off more effectively (a gripe for another time, why do boys get pockets in their swim suits and girls don’t?! Seriously). I hope you’re not wearing too much cotton! Try and keep your shoes off as much as possible when not walking – it helps a lot.

    Yeah, uphill is so much easier than down hill – people who say otherwise must have much better balance and way stronger knees than I do. When you’re going uphill, sure it’s hard but you are working toward the summit, going down hill you’re less graceful, more likely to fall on your butt, and all you get is the gully at the bottom for your trouble. The thing is though, while those summits have great views, you’re never going to get anywhere cool if you don’t start back down again.

  2. I really admire the courage it took to start this trip, Anglo-Saxon addictions aside. By the time you finish it, you’ll be a different person and you knew this when you committed to the journey.

    Oft him anhaga are gebideð,
    metudes miltse, þeah þe he modcearig
    geond lagulade longe sceolde
    hreran mid hondum hrimcealde sæ
    wadan wræclastas. Wyrd bið ful aræd!

  3. So I received an email from TRH Calontir asking me to arrange the lineage for this weekend. They mentioned your voice as one that They would enjoy hearing recount the names of Their Royal Ancestors.

    I responded that I doubted that you would be able to pick up the pace enough to finish in time to serve Them in such a fashion.

  4. Getting ready to head off on my own trip… But your trip sounds amazing. I shall be terribly jealous of your countryside while frolicking at the beach.

    As for achievements. The past is done, make what you can of the present, and shape a future for yourself that you are happier with. Looking forward to seeing you at Pennsic.

    1. Pilgrimage is good for the renewal of spirit. Very few things in life go smoothly or as planned even. WE all have things in our lives that we look back on with confusion, regret, and pain. However, it is how we deal with the bumps that define us as people. How many times have you looked at someone who faced a set back and became bitter?

      I see you as someone who can remain optimistic despite challenges, and I hope this journey helps you remember that as well.

      When you roll through Jeff City again, the beer at Paddy’s is on me.

  5. Again thanks for the travelogue. Good stuff despite the mud.

    Learn from the mistakes, be proud of the victories, figure out your future destination and like this journey plan one step at a time to get there.

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