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courtesy Microsoft clip art

courtesy Microsoft clip art

At long last, I have a date for my Camino!

After close to two years of dreaming about this trip, I’ve purchased my airline ticket and made it official.   I leave the States on Wednesday, April 24, spend a few days acclimating and traveling to St. Jean Pied a Port, then begin my walk across Spain on Sunday, April 28.  There’s no backing out now!

Not that I would seriously back out, mind you.  I just had a brief moment of panic after hitting the “purchase now” button.  What was I thinking?  I haven’t re-learned Spanish like I had planned, I haven’t lost that last 20 pounds that seem to never want to go away, I’m not walking 20 miles a day with a 15-pound pack on my back.   And the biggest “what the..” of all:  I’m quitting my job with no idea of what I’ll be doing when I get back.

But then I calmed down a bit, reminding myself that I’ve been guided to do this trip, that I have phone apps to help with the Spanish, that I can always walk slowly and take my time (I have two months, after all!), and that I will have a lot of time to figure out the next steps in my life.  I’ll  literally be walking into my new life!

I still have to purchase some clothing and other items for my trip, and finalize arrangements with my wonderful house sitter (MamaNell).   Get some bills on automatic pay, get the car inspected early, and hire a lawn person to cut the grass.  Buy enough cat food for the ferals.  Write my letter of resignation.   Figure out what to do about my phone since my model of iPhone will not work in Spain.  And probably many other little things that I haven’t  thought of at this moment.  These next three months will fly by.

I can’t believe that I’m almost on my Way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I finally got to test out my new backpack this past weekend while hiking near Blowing Rock, NC.  I arrived early enough on Friday to get in a short hike.  So the first place I visited was a sweet little trail in the middle of town called the Glen Burney Trail:

This trail featured a nice descent, walking past three waterfalls.   The one below is the Glen Burney falls:

It rained on the way back up, so I had the opportunity to use my nice new pack cover.  Worth every penny, it kept everything nice and dry!

The next day, I headed out to the Tanawha Trail and hiked from Rough Ridge parking area to the Linn Cove Viaduct visitor center and back.

The mountain laurels were starting to bloom:

As were the rhododendron:

It felt magical walking through the bushes, totally surrounded by foliage:

 

I stopped every few feet to take pictures of the views:

And because I love rocks, I have lots of photos that include rocks, like this one:

and this one:

 

I got to marvel at this tree’s will to live:

Finally, after four hours of walking on stony paths like this:

I headed out to easier pathways: the carriage trails at the Moses Cone Craft Center:

 

I love big, old houses, so as I walked, I spent a little time imagining what it would have been like to live in a house like this, with views like these:

Saturday’s total mileage was about 9 miles, which was shorter than I thought I would do, but the Tanawha Trail was a bit challenging due to the recent rain and my discovery that I really needed some new hiking boots.  Plus I have this annoying habit of stopping and taking photos constantly.  And stopping to bask in the sun on a nice large rock.

Anyway, I got in another six miles on the carriage trails on Sunday before heading home.  All in all a good weekend for using the pack and the poles.

And my pack has a name!  Don’t know that I’m ready to share it quite yet, but it’s a Native American name for a mountain that’s fairly close to my house.

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image courtesy of Amazon

I am now telling anybody who will listen about my upcoming walk on the Camino de Santiago, partly because it’s only a year out now, and partly because I am just so excited that I have to share.  The parking officer by my building knows, the lady I pass on the East Campus trail knows, and my coworkers down the hall know.

When I told coworker G. about my plans, he asked if I had heard about “Wild,” the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail without any training or previous backpacking experience.

I don’t follow best-seller lists, so I hadn’t heard about “Wild.” But I literally ran to the library to check out a copy. The Camino is not a wilderness experience, but I figured there might be something in this book for me.

Here are some of the things I had affirmed for me after reading the book:

1. Training is a really good thing, especially for those of us who are pushing 50 years old.

2. Taking practice hikes with the pack is also a good idea. Heck, just knowing whether or not you can actually lift a full pack onto your back is a good idea.

3. Properly fitted shoes are very important. So is having enough water.

4. People will be there to help you, if you open yourself up to that experience.

5. You can do things you might not think possible.

Other things I realized:  I am pretty attached to showers and to being able to put on a relatively clean set of clothing at the end of the day. I may have misread, but it seemed that Strayed only had one set of clothes available at a time. I’ll be switching between two, maybe three, outfits, so washing clothes will always be an option.

I also want to know that I have access to money if I need it.  Strayed ran out of money at several points during her trip, and that sounded more scary to me than her wilderness experiences.  Though I do have to say that ice-covered snow is never a good thing to deal with, whether you’re hiking the PCT or walking your dogs around the corner.

Another thing I must admit is that, at heart, I’m a bit of a chicken.

Wait, who am I kidding?  I’m the entire flock of chickens! 

I do love day hiking, but at this stage of my life, I would not feel safe spending the night in the wilderness by myself. Luckily, Strayed only had one scary experience with an unsavory character, and she was able to extricate herself from the situation.

Lastly, I love that Strayed named her pack.  I think naming the pack is a grand idea!   Strayed’s pack was called “Monster,” which fit with her experiences with the overly heavy piece of equipment.  However, I want my pack to have a name that implies adventure, security, joy and lightheartedness.  Any suggestions?

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Falls Lake

 

Easter Sunday was beautiful here in the Carolinas, so my walking partner S. and I decided to hike part of the Mountains to Sea Trail that runs along Falls Lake.     We ended up hiking for about four hours, which didn’t include our time spent enjoying a picnic lunch.

 

Starting out at the parking lot at Rolling View Recreation Area, we followed the blue blaze.  Then we diverged and followed the white blaze for the majority of our hike.   Our trail led us through the woods, with numerous views of the lake through the trees.

After doing so much walking on pavement, it felt great to walk on the nice, soft ground, covered with pine needles!

There were some sweet wildflowers along the way.

And a random lily…

We stopped for lunch at the spot pictured below:

I sat on that log, and afterwards felt a tick biting into me.  Ack! Luckily I was able to pull it off before it got really attached.

This walk was very peaceful and quiet; in fact, we were the only ones on the trail.  I’m surprised more families weren’t outside walking off their Easter meals!   And perhaps the biggest surprise:  there weren’t boaters on the lake.    If you look carefully, you can see one person canoeing in the picture below.  He was the only person we saw in the water.

 

Anyway, we ended up turning around where I took this picture.  The bridge has not yet been completed over the lake, and neither S. or I were prepared to wade through hip-high water to get to the other side.    Even though that water looked tempting, I feared it would still be too cold!

The Mountains to Sea Trail will span the length of the state of North Carolina.  Here’s a link to a PDF of the trail.  According to that map, there are currently 45 miles worth of trails not that far from my house.  So, once my garden is in, I look forward to spending more Sundays exploring this amazing resource.

 

 

 

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