Saturday, May 21, 2011

You got a Bed?

"Nope, were all booked up.  Not a chance in hell."  I had walked 7 kilometers through the country side assuming there would be a bed at the Hostel.  She suggests a B & B down the road.  I tell her I'm going to keep walking.  "There's no camping in the valley, they'll run-you-off around here."  I gesture to my fanny pack and lack of camping supplies.  She nevertheless glares at me.  I find my way to a forest hiking trail managed by a non-profit sustainable forestry outfit.  It takes me to a streamside trail.  There's a fence on the other side of the creek, and a reforesting clear-cut beyond.  My map indicates another country road on the other side of the valley.  I hope the fence.  The clear cut is filled with young rows of Douglas-fir.  The fence is seven-feet high to keep out the deer.  I move my way upslope aware of my trespass and begin hearing; forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  I hope the landowners are Catholic.  I reach another creek and climb the fence into a stand of 30 year old Sitka spruce.  I find a deer skull.  The forest of Ireland was once mostly oaks, it has been reforested with conifers, but large majestic lonely oaks remain in some fields that are now littered with sheep.  I hear real voices this time.  There's a house and farm implements beyond the trees.  I crouch and move as stealthily as possible back to the creek and the skull.  I follow it downstream, hoping to skirt the home.  I fear their dogs catching whiff of me.  I begin sizing up which species of trees would be easiest to climb.  Just in case.  There are occasional maples in the stand that have the best limb structure.  When I begin ascending the valley again, I become wearier.  I consider what would happen to me if I were in the Appalachians.  I don't think my trespass would be much forgiven there.  Finally, I find the road I was hoping for.  I shake my clothes free of twigs and sticks that I had gathered.  I've muddied the bottom of my pant legs and boots.  My clothes have reached a very wore-in appearance.

As I move back down the valley toward another small town, thirsty for a beer, I find that the trail I had started-out on came-out a kilometer south of where I had trespassed.  I laugh at myself.  Passing some Swiss or German backpackers who are hiking the Wicklow trail, I can only imagine what they think of my appearance.  They are dressed in high performance gear and have trekking poles.  I walk another couple of kilometers on the country road and find an old stone bridge.  Adjacent to the bridge are large, 100+ year-old conifers; Douglas-fir, giant Sequoia, western red cedar.  They are on a private ranch with a large NO Parking, No Hiking sign posted on its gate.  I break-off some cedar bows and bed down on the sandy riverbed under the bridge.  I awaken at dusk, cold and stiff.  My efforts to camp have failed.  It doesn't get dark until past 9:00PM, but I dare not start a fire.  I also don't have a warm blanket of whiskey to rap myself in.  I continue my walk towards the next small town at the bottom of the glacially carved valley.  I pass some deer in a horse pasture that had been grazing when I spooked them.  A mother and fawn trot up the hill’s slope away from me.  When I reach town, I had walked over 18 kilometers.  I catch a bus back to Bray for the last 4 kilometers.

In Bray, I find a Pub with karaoke and sing Fly Me to the Moon.  My father used to drive his Cadillac out to Vegas on the weekends to gamble and drink; he would see Franky at the Sands.  Drinks are cheaper in Bray than elsewhere in Ireland and I consume many.  Later, at a nightclub, it’s a slow night so I spend time talking with a bartender about my travels.  He pours another, and another.  He hasn't a clue how to make a proper cocktail or martini.  

I wake up outside in someone’s yard.  I walk toward the commuter rail station to catch a morning train back to Dublin.  It’s 6:00 AM.  I realize I’m missing the extra bag I'd been using as expandable storage.  I walk back toward where I slept, but blurrily and disoriented, can't find where I had been.  I continue on to the train, having parted with my bag containing two books I'd finished and had intended to mail home, and I'm only wearing one knit glove.  I slept warm, in the best blanket possible.  On the train, I fall back asleep and when I come to, the train is traveling in the wrong direction.  I had slept through my stop in Dublin and the train was now on its way back to Bray in Wicklow County.  I considered getting-off there again but feared being reunited with my bag.  It had decided for me that a Fanny Trekker needs no expandable storage.

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