the Two Moors Way, PART 5.... Day 2 of the hike, Barle Valley and beyond...
To be honest, I can't remember much about my second morning, I don't know what I had for breakfast, or if I was sore, but I did make one change for the day's plan. After having lost the trail so many times the day before, I saved satellite shots of the trail to my iPad, so that if the phone signal was gone again (did I mention that from day 1? there was NO signal on Exmoor...) I would have a point of reference that was more accurate than the map. I had to try SOMETHING, not knowing what the trail would look like.
While I'm typing, I'm trying to think about what issues I may have had that morning - there had to have been some, but maybe this is like childbirth. As soon as it's over (or shortly thereafter) you don't remember the excruciating pain, the screaming, etc - it's all just 'YAY there's a baby!'. In this case, the scenery was absolutely dumbfounding. It was the epitome of what I had fantasized about at any point in my life when I had previously fantasized about the mystical wonderscape of the British countryside. Every turn around each hillside revealed a view more striking than the next. The hillside above the trail had crystal clear water seeping from it, sometimes forming tiny waterfalls, and keeping the trail wet and puddly despite the constant sunshine and breeze. I would like to say that I won't describe any more, and that you have to all go see it for yourselves, but then I'd activate the anxiety in my brain about too many humans ruining the landscapes all over the world. I'm usually thinking about both sides of the coin at all times, it gets exhausting.
It was on this trail that I first began to describe to myself what it was about this landscape that I enjoyed so much - it's a place in which nature and humans, at least on the surface, seem to coexist in a way that they don't in other places that I have been. The land has obviously been altered by millennia of human use, but it hasn't been paved or leveled or restructured to accommodate much other than grazing and farming. Birds and ground critters were everywhere, doing their thing and making their noise, carrying on and not minding my presence at all. The people I did see on the path were equally as nonchalant about it - just sort of 'hey there, this paradise is just the usual place where I walk my dogs, I have no interest in leveling it to make a strip mall. We have Amazon for our shopping needs....' It was really hitting that sweet spot between wilderness and the backyard forest preserve, and I could feel that it's been that way for ages upon ages.
Yeah, that guy on the horse just strolled by, without a word, while I sat and snacked. I know I didn't stop and snack nearly enough, and just enjoy the surroundings, but I am not built to do that, yet. Maybe that's one thing I need to learn while hiking - to not try and do everything as quickly as possible? I also just wasn't hungry while I walked, and had to remind myself to stop and eat sometimes, and to drink. That brings me to another tip I learned the hard way - that I had to drink WAY more than I thought. The first two nights I couldn't sleep, and at the end of one of the nights I searched 'insomnia and endurance activity', and learned that dehydration leads to sleeplessness. Not sure why I didn't know that before, but I doubled my water intake from day 3 onward, and slept 8+ hours each night.
one of the times I DID stop to just enjoy, I had to record the sounds. I started doing this pretty often, and the crew back home were no where near as impressed as I was.....
As the second day ended, i'm pretty sure I was feeling amazing. I really can't remember anything else, and I think that's a good thing.