It’s funny what a difference twenty or so pounds can make when you’re walking.
I’ve been walking with my backpack for a week now—the same one-hour circuit I’ve often done unencumbered.
Here’s how it’s gone so far.
Thursday: I loaded the pack up with a stack of books, and a small blanket to fill in the places where light objects are supposed to go. I hardly felt the weight as I walked the route, which involves a few hills but nothing terribly strenuous.
Friday: I added a large trade paperback book. The only difference that day between walking with a backpack and my usual unencumbered stroll, was that the pack kept my back cozy in the sub-zero weather.
Saturday: I added an even larger trade paperback. I’m not sure if it was because of the added weight or because I’d been doing this for three days now, but I noticed the weight as I trudged uphill, and my hips were a little sore by the time I got home.
Sunday: I didn’t add a book, and my shoulders hurt a little.
Monday: I wimped out again and didn’t add any weight again. This time, my shoulders were still stiff and I developed a slight pain in my left heel that disappeared the moment I took my boots off.
Tuesday: I added another book. My shoulders were still a little stiff, but other than that I felt great.
Wednesday (today): My hamstrings were stiff until I stretched them out. Apart from that, I had no problems. I’m obviously going to have to increase my distance and/or add more weight, because my body is getting used to this.
And I have to admit, I rather like having a few aches and pains.
Don’t worry: I’m no masochist. It’s just that the small discomforts make me feel like I’m starting—barely—to get back in shape.
And they remind me, physically, of being a pilgrim.
My body remembers what the walking was like, so the ache in my shoulders, like the mere act of strapping on my backpack, brings a cascade of memories. And then, of course, here I am cataloguing my precise aches and pains, as I’ve done at no other time in my life except while on pilgrimage.
So why am I doing this?
Well, I get more exercise from walking with a pack. And, as I mentioned already, it keeps my back warm.
And then (insert drum roll here) … I’m going to walk the Vía de la Plata/Camino Mozárabe this spring.
I’d been thinking about other routes—particularly Saint Olav’s Way—for my next pilgrimage. But then I realized that right now I just want to walk and walk and walk for as long as possible, so I need a long, relatively inexpensive route. The Vía de la Plata seemed a good choice in that regard.
So I started reading up on the history of medieval Spain/al-Andalus (as the part under Muslim rule was called) since the Vía de la Plata passes through cities and towns that are part of that story.
And, history geek that I am, I’m now totally, absolutely, completely, head-over-heels besotted with this fascinating period. (I’m sure I’ll be
inflicting sharing more with you on that in the near future.)
So now I’m reading as much history as I can manage, and counting down the days to my next journey—only slightly hindered by the fact that I don’t yet know exactly which day I’m leaving.
And I’m preparing my body for walking, one step at a time.
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The timing of this post is pure coincidence, but it worked out rather nicely for the first week in the new year. Have you made any exciting resolutions/plans/decisions for 2011?