March 5, 2024

Now which way do we go?


The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.

-Christopher McCandless


A late winter’s day, with forecast highs in the upper fifties, is something that can’t be ignored.  The snow is erased from the ground, like chalk from a blackboard, leaving only weedy and damp, but solid, footing.  The sky is partly cloudy and the winds are light and breathy.  Clearly, this is a day begging to be used for a long walk.  Phyllis agrees and is available, so we decide to venture forth on the next leg of the Bay Circuit Trail, from East Bridgewater, where we left off, eastward to Hanson.

We decided to meet at 7:30 AM.  The drive to where we have to leave a car is an hour and a half away, so I have to get up at before dawn in order to have enough time to get Waldo and myself ready.  In the late spring and summer, 7:30 is a wonderful time to start a long walk because you can avoid the worst of the heat.  But this time of year, it means we’ll be walking for a couple of hours in temps in the high thirties.  Not a problem, but I have to think about what layers I can wear, to keep me warm then, and yet be able to strip off and easily carry the outermost layer so I’m not drowning in sweat later on.  Soon, I’m dressed, Waldo has done his business, the car is loaded with my pack, holding doggy water bottles, and we’re off.

We start our trek at the Town Line General Store in East Bridgewater. Waldo is clearly excited.  He knows we’re off on an adventure and is avidly jogging about and sniffing the world.  Running this way and that, it’s like he’s thinking, “Come on, let’s go!  I don’t care where, but let’s get it on!”  Soon, Phyllis and I are all packed up and we’re off, walking on the side of a busy road.  I keep Waldo on a short leash next to me, but, even so, he seems quite happy, just to be on his way.

This leg of the trail is near the Atlantic Ocean – it’s about fifteen miles away.  East Bridgewater is only eighty-four feet above sea level, so there aren’t any hills we have to climb. The country is low-lying with bogs, some of them cranberry bogs, although civilization has filled much of the area in with houses and roads.  Most of the walking we’re doing today will be along streets and roads, with only two paths, each only a couple of miles long, that venture off into the woods and weeds and wet lowlands.  The kicker is that there is another gap in the trail, according to the map, and we don’t know what’s in that gap.  It’s less than a mile wide, but it’s in the middle of a bog and it’s not clear, even from the Google satellite view, that we can cross it without swimming.  Swimming’s not something I want to do, so we plan to go to the edge of the gap, and then, if we need to, backtrack and go around.  That would add an additional three miles of street navigation to our jaunt, but it can be done.  The total distance is twelve miles the long way and nine on the more direct route, if it’s possible.

The time and distance goes by fast.  Waldo is hyper, running around and exploring, clearly having a lot of fun.  Phyllis and I both have heard (from different sources) of the “thirty-six questions to fall in love.”  I ran across it in the New York Times, I don’t know where Phyllis heard about it.  We Googled it and decided to go through a few of them, just for fun.  Each question is simple enough, but, being who we are, Phyllis and I are able to stretch out our answers to long philosophical and experiential discussions.  They are way too much for me to repeat here.

Somewhere around question number four, “What would constitute a perfect day for you?” and we’re on a built-up dike, hiking through a bog that still has cranberries floating on the surface near the shore.  As we compare answers and discuss what that means, the trail is nearly blocked by deep puddles.  Some of them even have flowing water as it runs from one side of the dike to the other.  We’re able to find ways around them, even though the going is somewhat treacherous and muddy.

By question number six, “If you were able to live to the age of ninety and retain either the mind or body of a thirty-year-old for the last sixty years of your life, which would you want?” and we’re at the gap.  The puddles are bigger and deeper, but there’s still a way around them on the edges (even Waldo goes around them), and soon, we’re past the gap and back on the trail.

Then, in less than a mile, we’re back to the car and done with this leg; nine miles as we did it.  “Hah!” I cry.  “You can’t stop the intrepid Waldo walkers with a few wet spots and swampy ground!”  It’s still early, about 1:00 PM, more or less, with much of the day still left in front of us.

We walked nine miles, but we’re still ten miles, as the crow flies, from our goal.  By the BCT (above which no right-minded crow would fly because of its serpentine meandering), there are still three or four legs left (of nine to thirteen miles each!), depending on how far we want to walk on each leg.  Soon, weather permitting, we’ll be done.  Then it’s off to the next walk, whatever we choose it to be.

Waldo and I part ways with Phyllis and we head home.  Waldo’s chin is on the console between us and his eyes are closed.  I’m dreaming of my recliner and a nice nap.

We have been up since 5:00, after all.


Sometimes, the path is clear.

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