The Salt Marsh Trail OR the trail better not traveled


Some paths are better left unwalked. Forget the proverbial "take the road less traveled". Some are just plain dangerous.

Our hosts were gracious having spent two days taking us around so that we would become familiar with the roads and sites on the Cape. One of the journeys was to Eastham to the Salt Marsh Visitor's Center and Museum/Gift Store. It is a lovely place, equipped with the latest in toilets and sinks that are built to conserve water and keep harmful gases from entering the soil beneath. The visitor's center was quite lovely; it had a clean and spacious theater with various informative films such as one about the geography of the Cape, another about Thoreau's love affair with the area, and a few more we did not see. There is a nice little museum with arts and crafts of the sea such as sailor's valentines, scrimshaw, whaling and fishing tools, a natural history area , as well as the proverbial gift shop which actually had some really nice things. I love giving money to gift shops, especially when it benefits organizations that are dedicated to the research and preservation of the land.

One day we were on our own and decided to hike the salt marsh trails. From the Visitor's Center they had appeared to be wide lolling trails, meandering for a mile or so around the marsh. It was hot so we wore our shorts, flip flops, and took our paints and cameras.

Off down the path we went..it was a path of sand and stones, and was easy going, which is important for me as my ankle is not 100% healed. We arrived at a T and met an older couple who told us NOT TO GO TO THE RIGHT as it was bad and dead-ended. We went to the left.

As we walked along the marsh, the path became narrower. The foliage became very thick, and poison ivy started to appear along the edge of the path. I am HIGHLY allergic to it, so I was careful to walk in the center of the path. As we descended into the brush, the bugs appeared out of their hiding places and decided that some lunch had appeared in their territory. Flies and bees, and probably the unseen and feared ticks followed us down along the path and started lining the underside of Larry's white "bush hat" and became entangled in my long hair. We walked quite a way; the poison ivy got thicker and thicker soon filling up the fields. I felt like I was covered in bugs, and realized that putting on Aveda essential flower oils made me a tasty meal. Finally something other than poison ivy lined the path...lovely tall wildflowers with large purple heads. Upon closer look I discovered that there were COLONIES of bees swarming them. Panic struck. I stared sweating and decided I could no longer continue.

By this time Larry was freaking about the bugs and the overgrowth of poison ivy, so we turned back. As we were heading back, the path appeared narrower. WAS IT THIS NARROW ON THE WAY DOWN I PONDERED??? Wait, WHY WAS THERE POISON IVY CRAWLING OVER THE PATH...IT WAS NOT THERE EARLIER.

I began to sweat even more. I felt like a character in a Stephen King novel. it reminded me of the vignette about the alien life that starts to grow in the guys house (played by Stepehn himself). Was it my imagination, or had the ivy and brush grown even more? The bugs were unbearable by now. I walked faster than I have in a year till I got back to the wider path. My heart was pounding. I was far ahead of Larry who was having his own difficulties as he was carrying a camera on a tripod.

I know there were rabbits and tons of butterflies and birds, but I had spent my time swatting bugs and watching out for the poison ivy and my nature watching was dramatically curtailed. And I never stopped to paint.

As we breathed a sigh of relief, two bubbly women appeared in long pants, hats, armed with bug spray and boots. They were going hiking they said...in the marsh. They had hiked there before and were ready for the trip. Obviously they were not tourists like us, who had no concept of how to prepare for the marshes.

When I think back, I feel rather silly. Flip flops and shorts. RIGHT. Oils of flowers smeared around my neck. REAL SMART.

I did do a painting. From a bench in the open by the center. And, the little cartoon at the beginning of my entry gave me a chuckle.

AND...we warned all the other underprepared people we met on the path.....not to go into the Twilight Zone.

Tomorrow...the ride home from hell. Ciao for now.

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