June 23, 2019. 15 miles. Switchbacks, Shropshire Hills, path midpoint, Dragon on the Dyke, Llanfair Hill, chapel in Churchtown.
Today was my rest day because this stretch is the hardest day of the walk because of the switchback mountains. I’m glad that I know myself well enough to know when I need a break! I was very hesitant to take a day off because I wanted so badly to walk the entire trail, but then I realized that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone besides myself, and I’ve already proven to myself that I’m capable of some really hard things!
I went to the Old Bell museum in Montgomery, and it was truly wonderful.... my advice: go into museums and talk to the people at the front desk. The lady in the museum today seems so happy to just have someone to talk to! The museum had an exhibit focused on the excavators and archaeologists who found the museum’s objects in the rubble of the Montgomery Castle, and that was so neat! I’ve never seen anything like that in a museum. Definitely a place worth going if you have a spare hour in Montgomery. I wanted to visit the ruins of the Montgomery Castle, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to it. You can see the ruins from farther away on tomorrow‘s walk, so it’s not really a must-visit spot, but it’d be cool to visit if you have time and can find the road that leads up the hill to the castle!
There was a day toward the end of the trip that meant a lot to me. It rained for most of the day and we had a smaller hiking group because a couple folks took the day off. The hike proved to be rather challenging – lots of steep climbs and descents in sequence. Before one of our final hills, we all paused at a church to rest. This hill was, without a doubt, the steepest hill I have ever climbed – about halfway up, I turned around, and it was like looking straight down at where we had started. The sheerness of it was totally exhilarating.
When we reached the summit, Will said to the group something like, "Isn't this great? Don’t you just feel alive? This is what it’s all about."
And with the mist on my face, the exhaustion of my body, and the wide-eyed gratification of the landscape around me, I really did feel it. That moment moved me forever.