Oystercatcher Trail changes minds
“One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things” - Henry Miller.
I’ve walked the Oystercatcher Trail, of course - but it’s only now, some years later (and having discovered the perfect quote above in Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, Henry Miller’s 1957 memoir about his 18 years in California,), that I’ve worked out what the experience meant to me.
It helped me reach a destination. Even if it is one that will always keep changing.
The trail itself presented me with a few physical challenges - five days walking on the beach, along the rocks, and through the fynbos will do that - but it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. (I was of only average fitness at the time - still am, but only mildly so.)
Those were the days when the legendary Willie Komani was still the Trail’s chief guide, and we became and remained friends until his sad passing in 2015. And - thank you again Henry Miller - the addition of a new friend always adds “a new way of looking at things” to anyone’s life.
But it wasn’t just Willie’s friendship that changed things for me. Sure, the time we spent together was important, the stories he told have remained with me, the things he taught us were fascinating enough.
No. It was also the time we spent staring at the sea (we were a group of 6 or 8 walkers from two or three groups of friends); the time we spent connecting across the ages with the people who made the hunter-gatherer middens that Willie found for us in the sand dunes along the way; the time we spent watching the water rushing onto the beach and beckoning us back again; the time we spent gazing at the sky by day and at the stars by night.
Precious time in our short lives, time we don’t often have available to us any more.
And it’s amazing what time can do, too - how it can change the idea that our destination (the Gourits River Mouth at the end of our hike) wasn’t our destination at all.
I came away from my Oystercatcher Trail having connected with myself and my planet in ways I hadn’t done before.
Don’t get me wrong, though: it wasn’t all deep thinking and heavy stuff. I had a huge amount of fun on my trail too, and my monkey mind got up to some wonderful mischief (I love it when it does that) - so much so, in fact, that it made me write down the (ahem!) true story of an evening with one of the off-duty guides.
But that’s the thing about change - it happens to us even in the way we laugh.
- There’s more information about hiking the Oystercatcher Trail here.