Hiking the Provincetown Breakwater

After reading about the breakwater  in a guide book, and that by walking across at low tide would bring me to two lighthouses. All week I talked to people that gave me advice. Go after low tide begins, go while it’s high tide and wait.On that hot ( for Provincetown) afternoon, low tide began just after 1:00. Walking through Provincetown to a part I hadn’t explored kept my camera delighted.Finally reaching the breakwater, it occurred to me that my mental picture of skipping along rocks and gravel was far from the truth. That’s what I get for living near the Mississippi for so long.The breakwater stretches about 1 1/2 miles. The length , not a problem.It was the rocks themselves. Large spaces between threatened to bite my ankles. The water recently retreated left many slick . Uneven boulders reminded me of my trek through Cornwall. But there I wore my hiking boots, not Tevas, and I hadn’t been alone. I told myself I had come too far not to do this and what kind of message did I believe if I didn’t make the attempt.I started out and began smoothly. The further I ventured, people passed me as if I stood still. They rock hopped like mountain goats and I , the beached whale , foundered.( Just for the record, I am not whale-sized).I continued and joked with everyone along my way .I was doing fine, albeit slowly,until one man told me about water still across the path and how there was a jump. Next, a young mom with her little boy told me about swarms of black flies as you reached the other beach. They weren’t helping. Then I reached a step from one to another that slanted uphill to another. The landing space was small and the drop off deep. I stood there summoning my courage when a young man offered me his hand to guide me across. I continued. For about 3/4 of the way.All I could think of was that if I broke an ankle, my vacation was ruined. My daughter wouldn’t know where to find me. The rest of the summer would suck.That inner critic stood in full-fledged screaming mode and still I stumbled forward.Little kids with their parents met this challenge without fear. I certainly could do this! It was hot, my sunglasses fogged up and I decided an impromptu picnic would help. I sat on the edge, ate my sweet Portugese fried pastry and drank cool water. Sun on my face, I pondered, and sweated some more. In the south they say things like glistened. I still call it sweat. The view of the lighthouse at the end of the spit kept my camera busy. About then, I realized that my purpose in coming was to shoot the lighthouse and enjoy the scenery. The only person I need to prove something to was me. If I could see my experience as a success, then it was. Proving to myself that I could hike in a dangerous spot (for me) wasn’t really the issue, it lay in determining whose expectations I needed to satisfy.The people coming back hadn’t visited the lighthouse, it didn’t interest them.I could take good shots, go to the beach in the later part of the day and enjoy the rest of the summer without feeling like a failure. I started back with a smile on my face. Rock-hopping became a bit easier. At the junction , the young man waited to offer his hand. He said ” I waited here in case you needed me, it looked like you were o.k., but just in case.” The fact that he had given any thought to me at all warmed my heart. I retraced my steps more easily until I reached the end. Sometimes, regret isn’t appropriate. Next time, I’d bring reinforcements. The next day , there was mention of a young girl who had broken her leg on the breakwater. Maybe her inner critic didn’t yell as loudly as mine did. Sometimes mine ‘s a real shrew. Other times, she’s right.

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About unsouthernbelle

I am a native New Yorker , transplanted to Memphis, who is a photographer, teacher, and wanderer. I am inspired by the beauty and stories that resonate from abandoned places and found objects. View all posts by unsouthernbelle

10 responses to “Hiking the Provincetown Breakwater

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