Happy July 4th! Independence Day coincides with the day we are gaining independence from our hiking gear. And it feels like the right time to do so. We didn't do any Shakespeare monologues today, but we did certainly feel like we were in one of his plays and like Lear, we were "contending with the fretful elements." And as Billy Shakespeare said in one of his lesser known plays, "The friggin' rain was soaking us today!" (At least it's in iambic pentameter!)
We wanted to get an early start to the day in order to catch an afternoon train back to Edinburgh, where we would be spending the night. So at 7:30 we had a hearty breakfast and, as we had come to expect from this top notch hotel, the staff had gotten extra vegan options. In addition to the regular breakfast options we have been given at past B & B's, they brought out vegan yogurt and a vegan version of Haggis - a traditional Scottish meal. When we returned to our room to finish getting ready, we realized that it was raining - that hadn't been in the forecast. Jonah also announced that he had lost his raincoat at one of our previous stops. Not surprising. Jonah has definitely inherited my proclivity for losing anything that is not directly attached. We didn't think this would be a big deal because the rain was light and we thought it would blow past pretty quickly. The rest of us did put on our raincoats and we all put rain covers on our bags, but we didn't bother with rain pants and I didn't use my rain sandals. By the time we left, it was 8:45 am.
As Jonah and I had done yesterday, we walked through town and neared the Law to begin the day's hike. It was actually good that we did a dry run yesterday because there were a couple of tricky spots, but since we had already done it once, we didn't have a problem.
We were happy to have climbed it yesterday because we didn't have the time to do it today, and it wouldn't have been very enjoyable regardless because of the rain. After we skirted the Law (even though we did nothing illegal) we came to the first of many wheat fields of the day. I quickly realized that I had made the wrong choice by not wearing my rain sandals and decided to change - I told the others to keep going and that I would catch up. The asphalt/tarmac gods were clearing getting back at us for our deriding their paths many times over the past 10 days. While not enjoyable surfaces on pleasant days, on rainy ones they definitely are preferred. Rain doesn't usually soak us hikers. The tall grass and wheat on the edge of narrow paths that rub against our legs and shoes are the big culprits.
After changing shoes, I jogged ahead to catch up to the others. As I did, a herd of cows, realizing that the Moo Man was approaching, simultaneously ran toward us. So happy to get one last encounter with my flock on our last hike day of the trip!
After about an hour, we had the Law clearly in our rear view mirror and it stayed there as a constant reminder of yesterday's glory for the remainder of the day.
We did have some glorious trails today, and were grateful for the nice respites of tree coverage we occasionally had.
And some of those sections were magical - not sure what types of trees these were, but they gave us the sense that we were in some enchanted forest.
As we cleared this section, we entered a long section of muddy trails. I was just getting wet with my shorts, but the mud was clearly showing on the others' pants.
And then some more narrow trails with the type of tall grass and wheat that soaks our pants and shoes.
I believe it was at this point that Olivia began to lose her s#*t. She was drenched and was having a hard time imagining being able to continue. Lara and I were a bit ahead repeating our mantra, TSBT: This S#*t Builds Tenacity. It reached an all-time low as we walked passed this huge mound of manure, our spirits and olfactory senses joined forces in a big WTF! Look closely and you can probably get a good sense of how the kids were feeling.
Jonah was trying to entertain Olivia, and he finally broke through with his one hit wonder, "The Penis Song." He's a 12-year-old boy and in that phase; we were grateful for it on this day.
Lara and I stayed ahead so the kids could work through things as a team. They do have a way of boosting each other up in a way that we can't.
It wasn't all rough and rigorous - we did have our moments of levity, as was the case during the stretch of time we walked along this stream.
But as we got wetter and wetter, those moments were more scarce. It became more about reaching our destination. The kids marched on with determination.
While it might seem like I'm including a lot of pictures here, they are really the only ones we took this day - my fingers were a bit numb so it was hard to work the iPhone camera. Lara and I did try to put on a happy face for the kids when we could.
It was about this time that we were heading down to cross a wooden bridge and came upon a muddy downhill slope. I slipped badly and my knee bent more than it has in years. It was a scary moment given my knee surgery a year ago. While I was in a bit of pain, I wasn't going to let this stop me from finishing. And, on the bright side, seeing their father in pain put an end to the kids' complaining about the conditions for a while. I might have milked this a bit to extend the complaining drought. :-)
We started to see the shore and could tell we were nearing our destination. At this point though, Jonah was very cold and wet (no jacket) and had developed a rash between his thighs that made each step uncomfortable. Ouch! He was struggling mightily and, this time, it was Olivia who was there to boost his spirits and help him through. We all were eager for this day to end.
Thinking we were near the end point as we came through a glorious tree-lined trail, we did have a little more pep to our step.
Then we came to John Muir Country Park and could smell the finish line!
And then we came to a rough realization - the end was not when we got to the water in Dunbar, but actually when we reached Muir's birth home. When we came to the water though, we did do our traditional Coast to Coast ritual of throwing the pebbles that we had brought from the other coast and dipping our toes in the water.
And then it was back on the trail for what turned out to be a few more wind-swirling, rain-soaked miles along the coast. We walked a broad concrete esplanade around the beautiful Winterfield Golf Course.
Had this been a sunny day, today's hike would have been glorious. There were beautiful trails, and diverse terrain, and a spectacular view for the home stretch. Unfortunately, our experience was all about grit and determination. The gusting wind was starting to break Jonah's spirits even though we were just a mile or so from the finish. I took Jonah's pack and engulfed him in my raincoat to lighten his load and give him some warmth as he gutted it out to the finish line.
And then we reached our destination at 2:30- what a sense of accomplishment! While this was an easier trek than the one we did two years ago across England, the finale definitely made up for it! We went inside to warm up and received certificates of completion. The woman at the desk asked me to write down our names so she could fill out the certificates properly. I tried, but my hands were so numb that I was unable to write anything - I dictated the spelling instead.
While we had originally considered exploring Dunbar before heading back to Edinburgh, we obviously changed directions after the day we just had and walked directly to the train station to catch a 3:12 train.
Fortunately, we caught a direct train and arrived at the Edinburgh train station within 25 minutes. And the rain had stopped so things were starting to brighten up inside and out! Our lodging for the night was just a block away. We passed Juice Warrior, a vegan juice bar/ cafe, on the way so Lara popped in to pick up some lunch while the three of us continued to the end of the block to check in.
While the Premier Inn is middle of the road as far as quality, after the day we had it felt like a 5-star hotel! Showers. Warmth. Clean clothes. Relaxation. Food- tasty quinoa salads and some desserts. And, of course, my customary post-hike shave.
A few hours later, we were hungry again. The kids didn't want to move - very understandable. We just ordered them some veggie burgers, salad, and fries from downstairs. Lara and I wanted to get out and have a little grown-up celebration. We walked over to the Lucky Pig vegetarian restaurant and bar for some drinks
and some food. The service was really slow, but that was mainly because two unfortunate waitresses had to handle the food and drink orders for the entire packed place. It happened to be graduation day so people were out even though it was a Tuesday. The food, on the other hand, was great. We had a chipotle mac-n-cheese, meatball Po' boy, and hot dog (all vegan, of course!) And the waitress was extremely apologetic and discounted our order for the service issues. After the day we had, we were grateful for some good food, great company, and dry clothes!
Back at our room, the kids were watching TV. We all stayed up until about 11 and then crashed hard. No energy to write my blog, so I am doing it this morning. Our hike has officially come to an end, but we still have a few days left of our trip, so I'll continue to blog with what we are doing, some thoughts of our hike, and some insights from the kids about their experience on this hike. Thanks for reading! And if you have enjoyed the blog and want to support our cause (Institute for Humane Education), you can do so by clicking on the donate tab on our www.c2c4compassion.com website.
Love and peace to all,
Distance: 15.1 miles
Time: 5 hrs. 39 min.
Avg. Speed: 2.6 mph
Total Ascent: 847 ft.
Total Descent: 849 ft.