I was thinking today, for no good reason, about how it is really hard to get lost around a river.
The river flows in one direction and is conveniently located at the bottom of the valley or canyon. Water that is above it will flow into it and it all just proceeds, predictably.
If the trail leaves the river and then vanishes and you find yourself in the woods with no compass, you simply need to listen for water or follow the contours of the land and it will point you, like a great big road sign, back to the river and home.
I was thinking how different that scenario is in a place like the Marls, where, unguided, I’m sure I would die. Every turn seems to strongly resemble the last turn, or the next, and what was flowing one direction once, will flow the other before long.
The vastness and unmappable nature of it would spell doom for me, directionally challenged with app open on my 6 mile commute to let me know traffic conditions.
You can’t just trace your steps by saying “OK, turn right at the mangrove,” because it is all mangroves. Mangroves and sand and water and more water and sand and mangroves.
There is a knowledge you develop if you know a place like that well, where you can tell the difference between the different mangroves, like a parent knows identical twins apart, but maybe not at first. To get that knowledge you have to put in the time, the hours, until it is all muscle memory and built in deep knowing.
I wish I had that. I wish I had some flat known like like. But the hours it would take to get to that point are already booked or spent or owed to someone for something, most of it for worthwhile pursuits and worthy people and so I find myself unable to mount much of a complaint… not a real one anyway.
I won’t get lost on a river. At least there is that.