PROVINCETOWN – We prefer to discover Cape Cod, even historic Cape Cod, organically. Sometimes, something like this happens.
On Friday, we found this nondescript path into the woods just off of Route 6, across from Snail Road. We’d seen bikes and cars there many times before. It looked like maybe a quick path to the water. It was not. It was something very different than what it appeared to be from the side of the highway.
First, we walked into what felt like deep woods and found a sign with this first sentence: “This unmarked path leads through the unique landscape of the Dune Shacks of Peaked Hills Historic District and on to the Atlantic Ocean.”
We walked a little further through these woods, and we began to see paths of sand, and then suddenly the landscape changed. All the trees vanished. There was sand. Lots of sand. These are the Provincelands.
Immediately, there was a steep sandy hill with a clear path dimpled with footprints. Steep and tall, 30 feet or more. The sun was hotter than it had just been over on Route 6. Or at least brighter. But we went on, huffing and puffing and grinding our way over the many footprints up this steep path up thinking, “just over that hill.”
Just over the hill was another hill.
We sometimes tend to be overly optimistic about the ease of things.
It turned out that we had not planned this walk. We had to turn back. Not enough time. Not enough water. And walking up and down these sand hills was more difficult than it looked.
Still, we had to go a little further. We wanted more of this landscape that inspired, and continues to inspire genius. Looking back, we could see Long Pond Lighthouse and some of the actual geography of Provincetown. Looking to the right, we could see the Pilgrim Monument near the bustling town.
But it was this enormous bit of dunescape that pulled us forward. We got far enough to glimpse the ocean and for that, we felt complete – at least for the day. Our step-by-step encounter with the magic of this ever-changing land was brief but we were there long enough to feel how the vastly empty and wild state can give something like understanding, or at least peace and calm.
There were lots of footprints. We saw a couple of hikers and glimpsed a young couple cuddling in the dunes. And over a hill, we were alone in the universe. What a universe.
We’ll be back.
For more photos from across Cape Cod, please see Scenic Cape
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