It was sometime in June (2018) when I began saying, with conviction, “I’m going to walk the Camino next spring,” but the idea had taken hold of me a good month before that. The notion was nowhere in my thinking in the early months of the year, but for some reason I did considerably more hiking during January through April than I typically do. I guess I was “in training” before even I realized it.
It was only in July, though, that I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my training hikes. We’re not talking here of “any old walk,” because walking is really a mainstay of my life. The log was to keep track of “intentional hikes,” ones I went on specifically as a “preparation for the Camino.” Each entry includes: date; distance; location; hiking pals, if any; weight of pack; footwear worn (since I’ve been testing out different shoes or boots). I managed to remember enough from the class I took at Ivy Tech to have the file update the cumulative mileage as I entered each new hike. In time, I revised the file to give me monthly totals as well. (I know what you are thinking, because I think the same thing: if I were to limit myself to essential tasks, my to-do list would not be so outrageously long and cumbersome. But anyway, I am who I am….)
So, in almost four months of “intentional” hiking, I’m pleased to say that I’ve avoided many potential or real hazards. No snakes, poisonous or otherwise, have crossed my path. I’m not aware of any hunters having caught me in their sights, no bows with arrows pointing in my direction. I’ve not been alarmed by any “suspicious” walkers coming towards me or sneaking up behind. No threatening dogs. No rabid anything. (Actually, there is much more wildlife in our backyard than in any Indiana forests I’ve traipsed through.) I’ve negociated creek crossings without slipping off slimy or potentially unsteady rocks or logs. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve removed the few ticks who contemplated gorging on my blood. So far, no blisters. (I’ve become a believer in coating my feet with Vaseline and will continue to do so until reality proves such treatment to be useless.)
By far the most “real” hazards I’ve encountered have been the stones or rocks partially submerged in the dirt and, even more, the plethora of tree roots crisscrossing the trails. They are the foot’s stealth enemies, half visible but yet so very numerous that it’s easy to get used to them and forget their potential for tripping one up. Tripping one down, actually. I’m a bit of a klutz and so I won’t say that I haven’t tangled with a few of those roots. A stubbed toe here, a last-minute-save-myself-from-going-down there. I’ve somehow managed to come out the winner.
Until yesterday. Precisely—according to my spreadsheet—while walking my 201st training mile. It was, to my chagrin, a rock, and one, I might add, that was fairly visible. Or so it seemed after the fact. But who knows where my mind was wandering, or my eyes—for it was a lovely day, bright autumn sun filtering through the trees and calling out for attention. But all of a sudden I was falling and there was no righting myself. Once I started down, the 17.5 lbs. on my back knew only the laws of gravity, and neither my poles nor the exclamations of my hiking buddies nor my own will to stay erect could counter the weight in my pack. Boom!
Still, I’m counting my blessings. Nothing broken. Not even any blood. A bit of swelling in my left hand, a bit of tightness in my right knee. On the day after, much less. By tomorrow I expect all signs of my spill will be gone. So, the way I figure it, I’ve had my Camino-related fall and… I’m good to go.
Or maybe I should be exceedingly careful in another 201 miles. Or on mile 201 (kilometer 323) on the actual Camino. Or best yet, this: keep my eyes open and my mind attentive at all times.
PS. I find myself wondering why it is when you ask people to relate “something funny that happened to you,” very often the story that comes out involves a fall of some sort. I heard this response often when teaching Spanish at IU. Is this because the verb for “to fall” was one they could recall and it was just easier to talk about falls than about doing something stupid when roaring drunk? (But then, come to think of it, maybe the falls they were describing were the stupid thing they did when inebriated…) A fall may strike a 20-something as funny because it is likely to be of little consequence beyond a bit of embarrassment. But as for me: it’s been almost half a century since I’ve been a 20-something and a fall could pose some definite and undesirable consequences. That’s why I’m counting my blessings that soon there will be nothing left of my spill but the memory of it as recorded in this post.