The honeymoon is over. The first few days Joseph and I were giddy and woke early. We couldn’t wait to get on the road and explore new vistas. That has changed, however. We are still excited to experience the walk, but we are facing the days with fortitude. We have aged.
Today, Day 5, we faced the Cleveland Hills. It was our shortest day at 12 miles but did you notice the word “hills”? It’s an understatement. What would better describe these ascents? Perhaps “steep” hills? I don’t know if it’s geographically accurate but it seems more fitting in my mind. The walk had no less than FIVE steep hills.
The first climb wove through peaceful forest and we had our first encounter with grouse. There were six perched on a log as if to greet us as we entered the forest. They kept us company for awhile. There was a lot of chortling conversation by birds we didn’t see, just heard. We also discovered gorgeous orange mushrooms.
The problem is, every time we climbed a hill we descended it. And then faced another. Each one vied for our attention by offering a different landscape. The next was our introduction to the moors. It was spectacular! The highlands looked as though enormous purple comforters were thrown over the hills. I felt fortunate when I learned that August is the height of color.
And then we descended. Repeat. We had a fabulous lunch stop. But I had developed blisters, the bane of a hiker’s existence. I thought my calloused feet were immune, however the incessant twisting on uneven ground rendered my pinky toes vulnerable. I developed a blister or blisters pretty much entirely around one pinky! I took a break and applied blister pads and bound it with duct tape around other toes to stabilize it. Still, every step hurt.
Nevertheless, I would not have missed this day. It was amazing to look back at a distant hill behind, knowing we had stood there. And then look forward to the next hill, knowing we’d soon be perched at the top. Those million dollar views were worth the sacrifice.