Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No Coasting on the Coast-to-Coast! Part 1

       I’ve done the post-trip laundry (lots of dirty socks!); cleaned my hiking boots and returned them to the closet; started the process of downloading and editing photos from the trip and still, I’m not sure how to wrap up my reactions to the completion of a major walking goal.

     Almost a week ago I returned home with my husband (and favorite walking partner) from a long-distance walk that carried us from the Irish Sea on the west coast of northern England to the eastern seaboard where we dipped trail-muddied boots into the North Sea and celebrate completion of a Coast-to-Coast journey on foot.

     The route we followed on this guided, National Geographic Adventure Expedition abbreviated the celebrated 192-mile Coast-to-Coast trail mapped by British walker Alfred Wainwright. Our itinerary cut the trek to 130 miles, give or take a few.  It packed the distance into 11 consecutive walking days, with 9-14 miles per day--some of them decidedly strenuous! 

      When we reached trail's end at Robin Hood Bay we achieved a goal set in January when we accepted the challenge of a Seattle friend and signed up for the Coast-to-Coast walk. The decision spurred a training program that energized and strengthened me in the following months. In the challenge of a long distance walk, and a clear goal, I found a focus to steady my emotional compass through the festering fears that accompanied a July birthday and hurled me into a daunting new decade, at age 70.  A fall on the third day of the trek, in a drenching rain, reawakened my every fear—it put me in the sag wagon for a day and pitched me into a bog of self-doubt. (More on that in my next blog post.)

Day by day, in rain, shine, and wind,  we traveled paths that carried us up mountains, through dales, and into the muck and mire of bogs. The path challenged us with rocky, uphill climbs and sharp downhill pitches on country roads. It tested physical and mental commitments. But today, back in the golden glory of a September day in Oregon, what I retain above all is a sense of proud achievement and a commitment to keep moving forward day by day, step by step, exploring the fine edge of these journeys that carry me into my fears and and lead me out again, facing life with a fresh point of view.  

There's more for me to ponder in the fermentation of this trekking experience. I'll be writing another post or two about the adventure. Meanwhile, if you would like to receive these posts via email, sign up above and confirm your subscription on the return message you'll receive. 

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