NIGHT TRACINGS PROVINCETOWN and PROVINCELAND RAMBLES


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RAMBLES in PROVINCETOWN and the PROVINCELANDS (page 2)

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Provincetown

September 2010

A walk in Provincetown

A gentle fog greets the morning. I walk down the beach toward pale silhouettes of unnamed hues.



Snake Hills

September 2010

A 9 mile loop between Provincetown and the Snake Hills

Rain seems eminent but it fails to arrive. The dark overcast just hangs vanquishing time. Once under the canopy of the forest it is no darker than out on the dunes.



Provincetown

September 2008

A ramble in Provincetown

I enter the wharf forest and step down into the mud. Mussels are nestled amidst clumps of seaweed and ducks swim between the rotted piles. Someone far off is clamming in hipboots. My feet get wet.



Hatches Harbor

September 2008

An 11 mile loop between Provincetown and Race Run

I retraced some of my steps to retake shots lost earlier to rain but it was another day. Failing this I left familiar paths in search of something new. Before long I was straddling the crest of a large dune I had never climbed. In the distance Hatches Harbor looked dry so I walked down into the basin attempting to cross it. My visit was cut short by the incoming tide that began filling in the sandy channels behind me. A careful balance was found between shooting from relative high ground before it became a submerged island. As the water level continued to rise hundreds of tiny shore birds swooped in low through the long tips of grass.



Parabolic Dunes

September 2008

A 14 mile loop between Provincetown and the Salt Meadow

It’s funny how we miss things, something catches our attention on the right and we pass by what’s on the left. I had been down this hollow twice before, only from the other side of the small cranberry bog that sat in its center. Today a rusty spot on the side of a bright dune caught my attention, it turned out to be the legendary remains of Charlie Schmid’s Ghost Ford. Charlie had been a year round resident of these dunes but both he and his shack were long gone. Only his Model A continued to sit where he last parked it.



Provincetown

September 2008

A ramble to the West End of Provincetown

I had beat most of the rain so far. The stormy weather had let up for the last few days every time I needed to be outside. By mid-day the sun was shining unexpectedly and I rambled out about town. Toward dark I pushed myself all the way back out to the West End only to feel the first raindrop as I sat down at the edge of the salt meadow. Within Moments I was soaked through.



Snake Hills

September 2008

A 9 mile loop between Provincetown and the Snake Hills

The sky continually looked to be clearing but the rain just kept coming back. It was not heavy enough to make walking in it uncomfortable but it was an endless battle to keep my lens dry. For the most part it was a battle I lost as most pictures taken today were discarded. Rain adds a strange dimension to this place. Distant hills take on a mysterious dominance despite their ghostly appearance through the mist. The lichens are happy all glowing in a bright pale blue and mushrooms seem to be sprouting everywhere.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A short walk in the Peaked Hills

Just before dawn I returned to the trail I came in on last night. The spitting sky dashed any hopes of capturing the early morning sunrise. As I walked closer to the edge of the dune line I was greeted by a pelting salty spray cast up from the rough ocean waves. Though the winds were high and the temperature raw I felt at great peace. There was just something appropriate to it all for my last day here on this journey. This weather did not exist just for me but events placed me in it at a meaningful time. Though not inviting to the taking photographs I wandered through the wet dune grass until my pants were soaked and heavy. The distant fog horn had not stopped blasting for days.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A ramble in the Peaked Hills

Upon reaching a very familiar crossroads I finally took the fork I had never taken before.



Parabolic Dunes

October 2007

An 8 mile ramble out to Pilgrim Lake and back

I have spent a fair amount of time out in the Provincelands but it has been a rare moment when I cross paths with another living soul. Of course this is also true of the many forested trails I’ve traveled but out here it is different; it is the openness of the landscape that can make one feel alone. Yet in all this emptiness footprints are everywhere. If not those of summer visitors headed for the beach, then those of deer, rabbits, and coyote. I had nearly stepped on a snake that was warming itself on the sand. It did not move but just looked at me as I did it. I am never alone here.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A ramble in the Peaked Hills

Unable to sleep I left my shack with brightening skies but without any clear idea of the time. I had thought I missed the sunrise but a pale orange glow poked through overcast after I was well down the sandy trail. The sun would play games all day casting glare and creating silhouettes but never totally revealing itself.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A 6 mile ramble in the Peaked Hills

A heavy fog moved in during the night and my eves began to drip with condensation. Everything outside is wet and the mosquitoes are out in force. My back pain is worse and I’m no longer able to put on my boots. I counter with the unprecedented step of heading out for my day’s hike barefoot. Rather than being problematic it took me someplace new. To say I felt closer to the land would be to over romanticize it but I did feel that I had finally gone native. I was no longer living according to plans or expectations but doing only what I needed to do. This is why I am here.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A ramble in the Peaked Hills

I head to the west. The light is soft, the sun cold. A single fishing boat was all that separated the sea from sky. A spell has been cast.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A 6 mile ramble in the Peaked Hills

Mice are playing atop my roof and crows are cawing. The dark clouds that blew in last night left a heavy overcast by morning. Its presence was so strong it seemed dim light would dominate the day but by mid morning the clouds began to tear apart and by noon the sky was clear. I returned to my shack to find a rabbit sitting on my doorstep.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A 6 mile ramble in the Peaked Hills

The day began cold and damp. The sounding horn at Highland Light shifted over to Long Point as waves of fresh fog poured over the dunes from the Bay. These added reinforcements to the morning mist began turning the air to soup. By the time I entered the badlands beneath Mount Ararat visibility was approaching nil. There was no longer any world apart from the small patch of white stand I stood on gazing into nothingness. As I floated along an occasional tuff of dead grass would seem to rise from nowhere. A single tree and some colored grasses became an oasis.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A 9 mile loop between The Peaked Hills and Provincetown

I don’t know what I did to my back but it is killing me. I paced about my shack most of the night unable to sleep. I do not like to go into town while living out in the dunes but walking to the drugstore became an unexpected priority. I stayed in after my return hoping the pills would have some effect. There was a fire in town after nightfall. The sirens of the fire engine were so clearly audible I thought they might be on the trail behind my shack. It did not take long for Coyotes to join in on the chorus.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A short ramble in the Peaked Hills

As I stood atop a dune waiting for the sun to rise my focus was drawn to a distant valley. I could not remember there being that much open sand out there and then realized it was not sand at all but fog. It rolled in from the east first filling the low spots between the long lines of dune. Before I knew it the fog rushed up and engulfed me. With the sun now sparkling though it, strange phantasms were born out of the ordinary. No sooner had I embraced it than it was gone.



Fowler Shack

October 2007

A short ramble in the Peaked Hills

I perch myself on a high dune waiting for the evening sun. The light is dull, the afterglow brighter than the sunset. As darkness falls traffic can be heard from the highway alongside the blasts of a distant fog horn. Suddenly there is a wild commotion. A pack of Coyotes are chasing down another animal and howls, yelps, and growls fill the night air. Something has died tonight out in the blackness. I become leery of leaving my shack after dark.



Parabolic Dunes

October 2007

A 9 mile loop between the Fowler Shack and the Salt Meadow

Picked up on an abandoned trail that I lost in the failing light of a previous hike. Today the light was harsh, the sky nearly cloudless. The track would appear and disappear without any discernible logic. When I sensed I lost it there would suddenly be a trace and then it would lie ahead as if it had never fallen into disuse. Past the easternmost shack it became a driveway but did not show much ware for use. As I followed its gentile curves over and along the ocean dune line I stepped out of myself. I was in a childhood memory of a place I’m uncertain ever existed. The tall sea grass caressed my legs as it did in another life.



Peaked Hills

October 2007

A walk to Mount Ararat and back

I was out at the first gesture of dawn to catch the morning glow inch over the dunes. All clouds sit on the horizon.



Tasha

September 2007

A ramble about the Peaked Hills

I’m out before sunset to further explore the surroundings of my new home. Just before retuning I discover Tasha, the old Jack Kemp shack, smallest of the survivors nestled quietly under a bushy tree. I had been out this way before but missed seeing it. By night the surf is roaring and a giant golden moon sits atop the dunes.



Peaked Hills

September 2007

A loop around the Peaked Hills

It never hurts to get one’s bearings, even when you think you know a place. With this in mind I made a simple loop from the Fowler Shack out to the high back dunes. It was already the later half of the afternoon and I expected a nice warm light to accompany me. As the sun slowly sank the light grew warmer but it lacked the intensity needed to add its hues to the sand.



Peaked Hills

September 2005

A 6 mile walk from Mayflower Heights to Provincetown via the dunes

I was out on Snail Road before dawn attempting to calculate where the suns first rays would shine. I picked out what I thought would be an optimal place to stand to get a good shot and then got bored standing there unable to take photographs in the dark. Afraid to arrive late I had come out too early. I began to wander about, choreographing the paths I would follow in anticipation of the sunlight streaking across the dunes. Of course nothing looked as I thought it would at daybreak. I had to improvise on the spot running about before the red cast dissipated.



Peaked Hills

September 2005

A 15 mile loop between Mayflower Heights and the Parabolic Dunes

As my trail sputtered out into a broken track and then ended above a deep forested hollow I realized I was in trouble. A careless misjudgment of the time led me far into unfamiliar territory with little sunlight to spare. It was a race against time but further miscalculations kept me off course. Instead of finding a road over the next rise there was only another hollow. By the time I figured out exactly where I was, total darkness was nearly upon me.



Provincetown

September 2005

A walk in Provincetown

There is a certain biting clarity to the light out here both out on the dunes and along the bay. In an odd way it keeps me in the moment, tied to wherever I’m standing.



Hawk

September 2005

A 12 mile loop between Mayflower Heights and Highland Light

The heavy overcast of morning broke into a full fledged shower as soon as I walked up to the Highland Light. It provided a brief refuge before my return to Provincetown. The air remained damp as I headed back along the beach. I tired myself out quickly in the soft sand and took a respite atop a beachside dune. There above the marsh I spotted a pair of hawks or perhaps it was they that spotted me. Soon there was another pair, and another, eight in all flying low over my head.



Pilgrim Beach

September 2005

A ramble alongside Pilgrim Lake

Whenever passing in or out of Provincetown the dunes that rise on the far side of Pilgrim Lake appear as a mysterious intoxicating land, inaccessible except by imagination. I cannot say how may times I long to be on the opposite shore. The sandy spit that separates the lake from the bay by contrast has quickly filled, now with even more new homes being built between the small motor cottages and larger hotels. Some of the small cabins leftover from earlier times are hardly larger than the dune shacks in the land far across the lake. They are real gems.



Peeked Hills

September 2005

A 6 mile loop between mayflower Heights and the Provincelands

The dunes are devoid of people but the footsteps of summer visitors remain too numerous to count.



Snake Hills

September 2004

A 7 mile loop between Provincetown and the Snake Hills

I attempt to explore the region where the forest meets the dunes but the landscape is uncooperative. The terrain is broken to a degree not previously seen, constantly forcing reroutes. It would be easier if I had no concern for this fragile place but every step is measured against the damage it might do. The warm light dims under a bright moon and I hear a coyote’s cry. It is getting dark fast and with all the twists, turns, and backtracking I’ve done I am no longer sure where I am. Suddenly I hear a car’s roar; a hundred paces from where I’m standing is a paved road to town.



Peeked Hills

September 2004

A 9 mile loop between Provincetown and the Provincelands

Some days are so bright that the landscape almost disappears. There is sky, sand, and the dark things that grow in it but they don’t combine. I am truly on another planet that has no concern for human senses.




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