I never understood the point of hiking. Climbing? Sure. But walking vigorously through the forest (a.k.a. the middle of nowhere) sounds like something that would hamper one’s health, rather than contribute to it’s longevity. In an effort to discover the allure of such an activity, I decided to adopt the habits of some of the most respected photographers and venture into the wild, with cameras in tow. I set my sights on Point Reyes National Seashore and began my journey. A bit of walking couldn’t hurt. How bad could it be?
The sun came and went, as I made my way through the forest, tailing joggers, elderly couples, and scattered hikers, along the moist winding trail. I set my sights on the ocean, which I intended to reach via various hiking trails. The air was cool and clean, enhanced by the recurring pattern of streams and mini-waterfalls at my feet. As I walked, I noted a lack of sound along the path. There were simply no signs of wildlife along the trail. There has to be some kind of animal that lives here. I quickened my pace and treaded on, driven by my curiosity and the hope of seeing some fantastic bit of wildlife around the corner, resting in the next clearing.
Ninety minutes passed as I continued on, without an animal in sight. I came across a sign relatively close to the path— private property, no trespassing. Disillusioned, my eyes remained fixed upon the wall of dirt and nothingness behind the sign. I was first struck by the audacity of having such a sign affixed to a tree in the middle of nowhere and then it dawned on me—the whole of society (myself included) had unknowingly bought into the idea that we (mankind) still held some connection to nature, by way of owning it or contributing to the cost of its maintenance. There was nothing natural about the path I walked because it had not been made by nature, but by man— by the men and women who walked there before me and the men and women charged with the task of preserving things as they are, rather than how they were. It was an experience designed for someone else but I couldn’t bring myself to turn back. The thought of reaching the ocean only strengthened my conviction. I pressed on for another forty minutes, clinging to my cameras and the humidity clinging onto my jacket. The ocean was near.
By the time I reached the ocean, the day was gone. It was 4:30 PM, I was hungry, the sun was disappearing, and it was getting colder by the minute. Upon staring at the crashing waves, reality set in— I had 5 miles to walk back in the dark without water, a toilet, or a decent restaurant in sight.
I trudged back along the trail in the dark, my legs set to “New Yorker,” in an attempt to shorten my shadowy commute. I maneuvered around a wandering couple, a park ranger, and whatever darkened shapes my eyes could make out along the path. After two hours, I arrived back at the beginning of the trail. I hurried to my car, loaded the “kids” (cameras) into the car, and headed back to the city.
At the end of the day, the only animals I saw were printed, dead or stuffed, and resting in the Point Reyes Visitor’s Center. While useless for anything but exercise, this ten mile excursion did manage to strengthen my conviction and dedication to the improvement of my day-to-day experiences. Never again would I spend a day walking someone else's (poorly designed) path—not for a minute, and definitely not for ten miles.
To view more images from this [mis]adventure, click here.