Day3 (17 miles), is dedicated to our winged kin. The osprey nesting on the Russian River, the glorious pelicans dancing and diving at the delta, the sandpipers and seagulls and the little songbird I could not recognize, dead on today’s path.
Walking the highlands just after sunrise, fog still heavy on the coast below. Heady smell of coastal fennel, I could hear the waves crashing, seals barking, Hawk hunting—all beneath this veil of mystery and magic. So much more to life than what I can see, and yet, it is clearly there.
Hawk rises up out of the mist, spanning the worlds, and guides me, encouraging, for miles.
Sonoma mile marker 27.74 thirsty and not yet to my next cache, I came across a modern day California miracle: the sound of flowing water. The small pullout was heavily decorated with soiled toilet paper,denying the sacrilege of the spot and rendering any thought of eating the abundant watercress, unappealing. Ayya! What is it about our culture that we need to declare, “Been there, took what I wanted, and left my shit and trash.”?
Please, I beg of us, learn to give back more than taking. If you feel the call of nature while traveling, by all means leave your gift, in a way that it truly is a gift. 50+ feet away from water or drainage, buried 4-6 inches, or completely covered under a rock or log, and WIPE WITH THE PLENTIFUL BOUNTY THAT SURROUNDS YOU! I image one day our culture will be identified by petrified toilet paper (although the #1 most common trash I am finding this walk is, hands down, plastic, 1 shot, alcohol bottles).
Pushing past the toilet paper jungle, I arrived at a place that few had taken the time to find, a trickling waterfall into a clear, clean pool. In my haste to bathe (after sweating for almost 30 miles since my last bath) I almost stepped on the local resident salamander.
Much refreshed, I carried on toward Fort Ross. Just before this bastion of patriotism, I smiled and waved at a wild looking biker, his motorcycle loaded down with recycling. He is the first person to actually turn around and come back to talk with me. George even pulled his bagpipes out of a side-case and composed. An original tune in my honor that he called Dakota Walking to Symposium. Right there on the side of the road! I love people. Y’all are forgiven for shitting and leaving a mess.
Speaking of which, the day I started this journey I was speeding down Hwy 1, trying to not be more than an hour late for my send-off gathering. I was thinking how my haste was making me one of the many I would be cursing on the way back up.
As it turns out, I’m not cursing anyone. In fact, I consider it my job to make eye contact, smile and wave at as many people that I possibly can along the road. This has had a lot of different effects—number one is that I get to recognize my own prejudices and stereotyping. I thought at first that it felt like winning the lottery any time an older, white male smiled or waved back. Then I realized women were actually only slightly more likely to respond.
I have been offered two rides so far, one by a young man near Monte Rio, and the other by a red pickup full of smiling, young women (which I was loathe to turn down), halfway up the Russian Grade.
Anyway, my point is that I suddenly realize that the good old boys (or young ones) have gotten the short end of my stick. What a karmic burden many of them have to bear—like Cedar—and they haven’t figured out about creating men’s Symposium yet, to help each other. So I have decided to lighten up on my judgements of them as a species. Because lots of times they do smile and wave—and I can especially feel compassion for the ones who don’t.