The Color Run

Sometimes we all need a race to be fun.  That’s exactly what The Color Run is about.  You run 5K (or walk or dawdle or do pretty much whatever you want), you get showered at each kilometer mark with powdered colors that turn you into a running rainbow, or multi-color mush, you get a packet of colored powder to throw at yourself or other runners (walkers, dawdlers) or save until the end as instructed and then throw it up in the air when everyone else does and the crowd emerges as a multi-colored mess.  The event happens in cities all over the country, there are charity partners that benefit from part of the proceeds, and the race is seriously NOT about racing.  It isn’t even timed.  Just get out there and get colored.

Adrienne and and her friend Jaime and I did The Color Run today and it was fun.  David took care of Emilio while we ran (we did run) and met us at the finish line.  We had extra packets of colored powder so we did some post-race dusting of ourselves, then went up front with the crowd to wait for the count down to throw the rest of our powder with everyone else.  Not only did Emilio love it, when the burst of rainbow powder had settled down on everyone, he said, “More,” pointing his finger into the palm of his hand (sign language for “more”) and smiled.  He looks good in pink and yellow and green and orange.


Morning Porch Haiku

Hummingbird strikes deep
Globe thistle ball of blossom
Long throats of nectar.

As Good As It Gets

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Yesterday was a perfect summer day.  David and I have been mostly engaged in activities that use our upper bodies since our return from that 13-day-lower-body-workout-test of walking close to 200 miles in 13 days.  We’ve been swimming and kayaking, not only because it was time to give our legs a rest, but also because it was so hot in the week after we returned home there was little energy left in me after doing whatever needed doing in the garden each day except for something cooling.

Yesterday we woke up in Scituate, Massachusetts, where I grew up, in the house where I grew up.  My sister Jeanne and her husband John were visiting from Virginia, and my sister Meg and her husband John (my three brothers-in-law are all named John or Jon; at one point early in our relationship David said to me, “Okay, I guess I need to change my name.”) live in the next town and offered to take us all sailing yesterday morning.

We met on the dock at the Yacht Club, where I spent my summers from the age of 9 until I was old enough to be working and giving sailing lessons, rather than taking them.  A school of small fish were “kippering” around the dock, flashing in the clear sunshine, the brightest, driest, coolest summer day we’ve had for weeks.  Outside Scituate Harbor we could see a line of small, silver-white clouds sitting low along the horizon in every direction, like a ring of good weather goddesses.  There wasn’t much wind, so we headed back into the harbor, out of the chop on the ocean, and “ghosted” around among the thickly moored boats of every type and size.

After lunch on the Club deck overlooking the brilliant day unfolding over the harbor, David and I took the kayaks out and headed into the inner harbor, slipped under a causeway bridge, and paddled through the marshes behind Peggoty Beach.  We watched a cormorant surface two feet in front of our boats and swallow the small fish in its beak.  We wound through the marsh grasses, birds flitting into holes of the steep mud banks as they rose out of the water in the lowering tide.

As we made our way back to the small harbor beach where we’d put in the kayaks, I stopped to watch the mass of boats lightly lifting and rocking in the water, the line of houses on the shore holding steady, the low clouds still sitting like beacons of good fortune on the horizon.


Throwing our rocks from the Irish Sea into the North Sea after 200 miles.

“What are the syllables in a haiku,” Peter asked me, somewhere on the walk between Keld and Reeth.  I gave him a fairly lengthy reply, explaining that the 5-7-5 syllable scheme is decidedly Western, as traditional Japanese haiku have 17 on, in the 5-7-5 pattern, but on and syllables are not the same.  (What exactly an on is can be hard to explain.  Wikipedia says it’s a mora and then tries to explain that.)  Traditionally there is a seasonal reference in a haiku, and most critically there is a cutting word, or juxtaposed images, a turn, of some sort, often between the second and third lines.

Several miles later Peter said, “Okay, I have one.”  And he recited a haiku he’d written in his head as he walked.

Dry boots, full bellies
Bad weather route to a pub
Bog only to knee. — Peter

So then I wrote one and recited it to him, and we both recited ours to everyone else, probably backed up at another kissing gate (only one person can go through at a time) or a stile up to an almost impossibly narrow gap in the top half of one of the many, many, many 5 foot stone walls, clamped off by a small, springy wooden gate (only one person can go through at a time).

Up and down the line of the 8 of us walking, we started counting out syllables in our heads or with our fingers or our footfalls, then reciting the haikus we came up with. At one point David said, “We’re writing hike-u’s (and spelled it out). Get it?” We chuckled. When we stopped for lunch at a tea room (the pub wasn’t serving food, and we needed food more than pints), I wrote down what everyone had come up with. Here are a couple more (and more to come).

Boggy boots hosed clean
Hair-dryer miracle dry
Next day happy feet. — Anne

Homemade giant fish fingers
With salad and chips 8.50
Walkers welcome. — Betsy

Walking in Sunshine

David and I went for our first walk since getting home yesterday.  We headed out on the trail across the hay meadows at the top of Blake’s Hill, then down into Northwood State Park to walk around Betty Meadow Pond.  As we followed the path through the first meadow, two turkeys flapped up out of the deep grass beside us and flew off ahead.  Moments later a dozen small, fuzzy feathered turkeys lifted out of the grass and flew off after the adults.

As we walked, I noticed how similar the plants were to our walks through meadows in England.  The same small daisies and Queen Anne’s Lace and toadflax (or butter-and-egg as I called it as a kid) flowers flecked the fields.  But there was one striking difference.  We were walking in sunshine, it was hot, and there was no mud.  We’re back in summer and it feels great.

Bi-Coastal Coast to Coasters

Yes, the Bi-Coastal, NH/WA team finished the Coast to Coast walk today at 2:30, far ahead of the other C2Cers huffing up the long steep hill out of Grosmont this morning. It’s not that we were faster, just “sensible” as a woman weeding her garden said to me when we walked by and I told her we’d taken some shortcuts from the Wainwright route.

Wainwright himself encouraged people to find their own alternatives to his original path, which we did today, saving about 7 miles. After yesterday’s dispiriting walk in pouring rain across the moors, we looked at the map last night and decided to eliminate a long loop north on the route to walk back south to Robin Hood’s Bay on the headlands. Good decision, as the coast was fogged in all day and we wouldn’t have had any views, the reason for the loop.

We walked through a rising mist this morning through the lovely Egton Bridge into sun at Grosmont, a village still served by a steam engine train.


England has been hit hard with record breaking rains and flooding, but the villages along the Esk River are clearly used to high waters. We passed two road fords today with water height markers and had to take footbridges to cross.

When we got to Little Beck we decided to also skip a long vee of path to the south through a supposedly beautiful forest (we agreed we all have beautiful forests at home) and cut across the top of the route on a back road through farmland. It led us to the road that reconnected with the Wainwright route with the added delight of swaths of wild orchids blooming on the shoulder.


Another trek across a boggy moor brought us to the road into Robin Hood’s Bay, a delightfully quaint town perched on the cliff side above a tiny beach. We still hadn’t caught any of the reported possible sightings of the North Sea as we approached the bank of fog over the water.

We walked the very steep road and steps down to the water, alleys and staircases leading to stone shops and houses on both sides. And there we were, on the beach ramp with rocky low tide flats stretching off to the North Sea.


I Think I’m Going To Make It But I Don’t Know About My iPhone

Have you ever walked 10 miles straight into the teeth of a Northeaster?  Now I have, from Blakey Ridge to Glaisdale.  I’m sure it’s a lovely walk but all we saw was each other’s feet as we trudged through rain and mist and muddy puddles.  And somehow my iPhone got wet, even though nothing else got wet under my waterproofs.  I’m hoping it improves overnight, and we all hope our blisters and sore feet and thighs and ankles and fatigue improve after a night of sleep.  Tomorrow is the final day!  Stay tuned.

Walking the Moors

Yesterday morning we set out from Osmotherly, “the prettiest village in England” one of our guide books had said.

It was lovely, but after the day we’d had what mattered was the good pub and bed. We walked up the road for a couple of miles and crossed into North York National Park, an immense expanse of moorlands and the world’s largest area of heather.

It rained a bit, as usual, and as we started the steep ascent up Live Moor we walked into a cloud. All we could see was each other spread out on the track (mostly an amazing path of set stones and steps – who did all that work?) and the heather stretching off into the fog. We all stopped to admire one blooming patch – mostly heather blooms in August.


Up and down we went, climbing next up Carlton Moor. I was resigning myself to a long day of walking on misty moors, climbing and descending very steeply over four moors (over 3,000 feet of elevation work total for the day) with no view to reward us. But as we reached the top of Carlton Moor the sky brightened, the mist lifted from the valley to the south and we could see back over the lowlands and distant Pennines from our previous days of walking.

The clouds were still piled into the valley to the north and for several miles we walked along the lip of the mist, coming up to the crest of the moor then threading away over our heads.


Eventually the sky cleared completely and we had a long walk along the vast sweep of Urra Moor, walking in sun for hours on a blessedly easy track with no mud. For the first time in a week I walked without gaitors and the outside of my boots dried.

I’ve never walked in such hugeness, heather and peat in long open slopes for as far as I could see, valleys of pastures far below.

When we finally saw the red roof of the Lion Inn we were very happy to be at the end of such a glorious stage of this journey. After a hearty pub meal Anne, Peter, David and I got picked up by the owner of the August House B&B (not enough rooms at the Lion when our trip was booked) and driven to Rosedale, a beautiful moor valley. It was our first time in a car in almost two weeks.

Now there is a big storm moving through, thunder and lightening and heavy rain. Luckily we don't need to leave early today and can enjoy our "loo with a view" as the owner said last night when she showed us our bathroom. The view from our bedroom is just as lovely.


Bad Ass My Ass

“You know, doing the Coast to Coast in 13 days is pretty bad ass,” I said to Cathy and Sue as we strode into Richmond yesterday afternoon. You quickly learn on this path that first questions you ask when you meet up with people (a whole other post I’ll write when I have a keyboard, about the community that develops among C2C walkers) are where have you come from today, where are you going tonight, and how many days are you taking to complete the route. Some people do it in stages, some do parts of it, the fastest ever was 39 hours, and many do it in 13 or 15 or 18 days. Our 13 day trip is on the fast side of the non-extreme.

Well I don’t feel so “bad ass” right now. Today was a long exhausting trudge through muddy fields and along back roads, ending with a thunderstorm, a dash across a very busy highway, and a half lost scramble up a steep hill through a patch of nettles that left my bare knees screaming. They’re still on fire, none of us can walk straight and we all stumbled back from dinner and into bed.

In fact, we’re so clearly hurting a local couple coming down the road said, “You’re doing the Coast to Coast aren’t you? We can tell by the way you’re walking.” And we’re walking again tomorrow? Bad ass? More like busted ass.

Some more photos, so you can see how worth it this is.





Long Days

We walked into Richmond and were greeted by this sign. Four days to go and still close to 80 miles of walking. Luckily the last two days were short (this is new, thinking a 12.5 mile walk is short) and mostly flat. Richmond is an old castle town and we arrived with enough of the day left to see some sights.


And we had sun yesterday, the first day since our first day of walking with no rain at all. But this morning is gray and wet again and we have 24 miles to do so we’re up early, eating yet again, and getting ready to set out. Still, we’re having a grand time.