I’ve been walking for 40 days now. Phew!
And a lot has changed about how I do my walking.
For starters, when you’re carrying everything on your back, you don’t really think twice about throwing away things that you don’t need. Towards the beginning of my trip, I sent home two packages of things that I realized were just extra weight.
My weight-carefulness has evolved. When I started my trip, I used to fill up all of my water bottles, for a whopping 5.5 liters of water, or 12 pounds. I would also go shopping every three or four days and load up on enough food to get me through all of that time.
Now I only carry 2 liters of water at a time. There’s water to be had everywhere, whether it’s from a stream, or from some kind soul whose door I knock upon. I have yet to be turned away.
As for food, I kind of feel the same. When I pass by a grocery store, I pick up enough food to last me for the next few meals. I also try to get in more variety, based on what’s freshest.
My whole body has been so grateful for the weight reduction. Really, it feels like I’m carrying nothing at times, even though my pack probably weighs about 28-30 pounds.
You also start to have a routine. I have a place for everything, and know where things go. Garbage goes in one pocket, so when I reach a garbage bin, I can drop it in. My munchies are in one hip pocket, while my headlamp and pocket knife and useful things like that are in the other.
When I started out, I kept losing things because I’d forget them when I left camp. Now when I set up camp, I have a routine I follow, and it’s the same for breaking camp. I haven’t lost anything since… I left my sunglasses behind back on day 14.
I could start a fire, pack my backpack, and set up my hammock now blindfolded.
I’ve also given myself permission to stop at anytime and for any length of time to visit with people, or to visit a church or castle or other interesting place. This gives me a chance to rest and adds so much variety to the journey. Today I stopped and talked with two really fun blokes who even showed me the best swimming hole nearby. I took a delicious dip. Can’t beat that local knowledge!
After forty days, I guess the biggest thing I’ve changed is just listening to and being very careful with how I treat my body. On a journey like this, it’s the only transport I have. And more than that, in life, it’s the only body we’ll get! Early on in my journey I felt a pressure to get the miles in and hurry things up. I ended up whacking my head on a branch once, cutting my thumb with my pocket knife, and really tiring my feet out.
Now, though I’m still walking something like ten miles a day, I’m trying to be gentler with this good old body of mine. That could be just going over gates in fields a bit more carefully, or not banging so hard on the pavement with my feet.
And those feet have been quite happy!
PS the map had dots with all of the places I’ve camped