It was warm and muggy outside. These are the conditions I hoped to avoid by walking at 5:00 a.m., so I cut myself some slack and only made myself walk a half hour this morning. A half hour is better than nothing. And walking in sauna like conditions must count for something, right?
So here I sit. Just a tiny bit weary and the enthusiasm I felt when I started out on this "moving" habit is waning. I guess it is time to change it up a bit. I need to incorporate some form of exercise into this moving business. I'll check into that later.
After I had walked three hours in three days and dealt with the repercussions of that decision (a blister on the callus on my bunion and numb hands at the end of my walk) on day four (moleskin is AMAZING for minor foot ailments and holding my hands up to waist level as I walk cured my tingling hands), I couldn't help but think of the trek my brother is about to set out on.
My brother has made the fully conscious decision to walk the "West Coast Trail" with a friend of his next week. What is the West Coast Trail you ask? I googled it and I came up with my very own definition: A week long trek in miserable walking conditions where you have to pack and carry everything you need to eat, sleep on and in, wear and maintain yourself for a week. Oh yes, and your travel mates may be bears or cougars.
I walked for four hours in four days, without carrying a thing and I had to come up with remedies to make walking the next day possible. All I can think of is the condition my feet were in, after walking the Strip in Las Vegas with my sister. I can't remember how many hours we logged that day but my tender, blistered toes could not tolerate being enclosed by a shoe the next morning. What if we had been camped out on the West Coast Trail where we couldn't catch a bus to try and find some open toed sandals for me to wear home? I highly doubt they would send in a helicopter because of blistered toes. But then again, if you were running for your life (I am kidding - you are never supposed to RUN from a bear or cougar. You are supposed to move very slowly), the last thing one would have on their mind was their sore feet.
Carrying a back pack, with a week load full of food, supplies and accommodations makes me think of my flyer route days. The days when I packed up to fifty pounds of newspapers on my back and delivered them. At least I had the reward of lightening my load along the way. These guys? The only lightening of their load will be the food they eat. They must carry all garbage back with them. And water? I read of "water purification kits" that they could pack along. I don't think it would be possible to carry a week's worth of water on their back, so this must be the route they must take. My stomach does a slight turn at the thought of "water purification gone awry" and ending up with a dire stomach ailment that may not make it to the next outhouse along their way.
They will have to walk no matter what the conditions are. They won't have the choice to "come home early" because it is muggy outside. Or too hot. Or too cold. Or too anything. They get to choose their pace and it is recommended to choose a pace where you can enjoy the sights you see along the way. As I dodge caterpillars and webs hanging from overgrown trees as I walk down the city streets, I simply cannot imagine seeing much beyond the immediate peril I was avoiding at any given moment in time.
One would think there must be a huge financial reward and compensation for enduring this ordeal. Right? I got paid for delivering flyers. The pay rate for staying safe, fed and able to walk for a week without any of the creature comforts of home must come with a pay back. Right? WRONG! All costs come out of their own pocket. Not only that, but they are incurring costs to fly out to go on this adventure and using up valuable vacation time from their places of employment. I don't understand this. Who would make this conscious, expensive, well thought out and calculated decision? My brother and his buddy. That's who.
I would like to know the rigors of preparing for a trek like this one. Surely a day walking The Strip in Vegas wouldn't count, would it? But it is the only thing I can imagine that could compare (with the added bonus of carrying the equivalent of a full load of flyers on my back, that I didn't get to deliver to anyone).
I'm sure my brother has all contingencies well thought out in advance. He has been in training for this for quite some time and I'm certain his body, mind and soul are all ready and set to go. He sounds like he is ready to meet this challenge head on. And that, he will.
My only advice? Pack blister bandages and moleskin padding. And don't let your arms dangle while you are walking. That is all I know for sure.
I can't wait to hear the rest of this story upon my brother's return to civilization. I'm sure there will be a "book" in there somewhere. I just hope he takes good notes along the way. One other suggestion? Pack something so you can record your thoughts as you make your way. Yours is a story I would really like to hear!