On Monday, I looked over the pictures from the coast hike again. My husband and I are going to get some printed up so we can look at them more often. And, even though I was flicking through the images quickly and not devoting my full attention to the task, I couldn’t keep the smile from my face.

The ghostly shore, mist shrouded and mysterious. The animals we encountered on the beaches through sun and rain. The rocks that rolled beneath our feet and the rocks that rose above our heads. The fairy tale trees of the Wedding Rocks headland. The ever-changing line of lapping ocean waves.

I can’t wait to go back there. I can’t wait to start learning the Wild Coast as I have learned some of my local trails. To have a sense of where my landmarks are, where the water can be found and where the best place to wait out the tide will be.

It’s a challenge. It’s hard and dirty work, hauling yourself and your gear along a trail that changes with every tide. And it’s beautiful. And sometimes I wish I could live in the time that we hiked forever.

But if I never left the experience of that first hike, then I’d never get to go back. I’d never get to experience the anticipation as we plan the next visit, knowing what we now know. We’ve already decided that reserving a hotel room of some sort for when we get off the beach would be a good idea. Better to have an online reservation confirmed and not try to walk in looking (and smelling) like you’ve been sleeping on the beach for the past six days.

I don’t know when we’re going to do that next trip, but I know that we will. The pictures we print out will only whet our appetites for going back and adding to the collection. Pictures will always be a pale substitute, but when they’re what you’ve got, you take them. You print them out and hang them in your office cubicle and use them to remind yourself of the rushing of waves over sand, the burbles of flowing water, the barking of sea lions and the satisfaction of traversing a headland in the dark.

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