The Season of Brown
Late Michigan winter kept early Michigan spring in a cold, snowy, vice-like grip – that is, until last Saturday, when it suddenly warmed up and all of the snow melted. It left THIS scene in the picture above just behind the house! The meteorologist on 9&10 News – our local news station (so local, in fact, that I can drive to its studios in under 10 minutes) – said that we will now enter Michigan’s “brown season” with winter’s dead brown still all around and spring’s renewal green not yet sprung. Look at the photo above, taken from the back deck! Really, what a depressing sight. Just like the meteorologist said, we are in “The Season of Brown.” I feel like throwing a beach ball or something bright-colored into the middle of that grass, it’s awful.
Okay, now to the walk…
When my co-walker Joel, who wrote the third post, agreed to take the C2C Walk with me, I had already read two books on the walk, but had nothing prepared. It is a popular walk, probably the most popular long walk in the UK. I needed to do something fast, I thought, especially about accommodations on the trail.
While Joel was waiting on one or two books about the walk that he ordered, I constructed an itinerary of our daily overnights. Studying my guide books, I put together a list of Bed & Breakfasts – B&Bs – for each stop, listing at least three B&Bs per overnight in order of my preference, which was based strictly on how my guide books described them – always selecting the ones written up as “old and charming, with exposed timber beams.” I am a sucker for timber beams. I sent the list to Joel, who checked “on-line” about all the mundane stuff, like whether the WC was en-suite or behind the cow shed (I got this very wrong on a couple of my suggestions), plus other considerations; for example, the quality of the big English breakfast they served (based on reviews) and whether the B&B was close to a good pub, or – better yet – had its own pub. Joel also happened to meet someone at the time, completely coincidentally, who had actually walked the C2C Walk. She had some other advice and suggestions for us.
I took on board all of Joel’s changes, and we, then, decided it would be more cost and time effective to have someone else – a professional – book the overnights for us. We used a service called Sherpa Van, which did a great job. If our preferences were already booked out, they suggested equally good alternatives. However, we still got most of our top picks. – And, if I had 250,000 subscribers, right now, I may have been able to charge money for that plug. But, I since don’t, it is a freebee for Sherpa Van.
Okay, it’s true, one can also take this walk, by camping and/or staying in hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns. Hiking purists out there will certainly take exception to our cushy approach to the walk. However, Joel and I had both done that low-budget sort of youth hostel and camping travel extensively back when. (And, I maintain that I can still travel rough, if I want to! We just didn’t want to.) English B&Bs are famous for their charm. They would add to, not detract from, the C2C experience. We will sit in the evenings together with other C2Cers and recount amusing stories of our day on the trail over a pint of the local ale. Besides, we will have lightened our load by not carrying food, pots and pans, camp stove, tent and sleeping bags, and other gear. With smaller packs, we would enjoy the walk more, and take, certainly, better pictures, and also have a far better chance of outliving the trip.
After we booked our accommodations, we went about buying our plane tickets. It wasn’t planned, but we both will connect in Newark, New Jersey, to meet the same onward flight to Manchester, England. – Having all of the overnights and flights booked was an exhilarating feeling. What could stop us now, except possibly our joints and general cardiovascular condition?
But, it was also anticlimactic. Almost two weeks went by after all of the bookings were made without Joel and me even telephoning or emailing about our upcoming adventure. I was uneasy about it. Shouldn’t we be doing something? I sent Joel an email to propose a Skype call. He agreed that it was very necessary. We decided to discuss our packing list, in order to make sure that one of us didn’t have a good idea that the other one didn’t have.
Should we take three changes of clothes, or would two be enough? If we had washed out one set of clothes, and wore another set while the first set was drying, and something would happen to the clothes we were wearing, like spilling catsup on them at a fish and chips stand, then, with only two sets of clothes, we would have to wear the catsup. However, with three sets of clothes, we might be over-packed. We went back and forth on this and, then, deferred the decision and noted down 2-3 sets of clothes on our packing list.
What else? On the C2C Walk, there is not a question of “if” you will be rained on, but how many days you will be rained on. On the second day of the walk, on the hills above Borrowdale, the highest rainfall in England is recorded, an average of 4.7 meters of rainfall per year, that’s 185 inches! We would need rain gear, and we noted that down.
After 5 minutes of Skyping, including time spent exchanging some pleasantries at the beginning of the call, we had covered these two topics exhaustively. The call got a bit silent. Surely, there was more to work out. This was a complicated trip, after all. But, we couldn’t think of anything. I finally suggested that I might bring a hip flask with some bourbon in it. Whenever we reached the top of a hill, we could take a shot. That is what the Germans and Swiss call a “Gipfelwasser”- Summit Water. When you get to the top of a mountain, maybe we only have hills, you take a shot of “Gipfelwasser.” Joel ask if it shouldn’t be scotch instead, being England. I said I only had bourbon here, and I wasn’t going to buy a full bottle of good scotch, just to fill up a hip flask. Okay, we decided bourbon would be okay, and we noted that down.
Well, finally, we were getting somewhere with our preparations, and decided that that was enough for this first call. We would need to have another call sometime.
Comanche War Axe Tomahawk
Before I start taking pictures of the C2C Walk, I am short of fresh photos (excepting the dreary one at the top of this post), so I am including other pictures of past walks, plus whatever else strikes my fancy. Below, I have added a picture of my Comanche War Axe Tomahawk. I admit that I am including it in the post, because I thought it would be an eye-catcher in the blog title. So, what does a Comanche Tomahawk have to do with our walk? Well, nothing…
This Tomahawk is in a style that they call a Missouri War Axe. A Missouri War Axe is just the type of Tomahawk it is. My axe is more specifically attributed to the Comanche in southern Oklahoma, and dates back to about 1840. Pre-Indian Wars Tomahawks are rare. This one came out of a well-known collection, so the piece is well-documented. I have a small collection of Native American artifacts, and this is my latest addition. And, it is my fourth axe!