I remember the times when January 1st was a bleary-eyed sleeping in day. A day that didn’t require going to work, woohoo! Those days seem to be long behind me, although if I had television I might still be tempted to watch the ball drop in Times Square. This year my goal was to go to bed early and get a good ‘hike’ in on my day off. So I worked my shift on the 31st, said good-bye to my eldest who left for a new job, and headed home full of Village Inn pie. Try as I might, I couldn’t stay up much past 10 p.m., particularly knowing I wanted to be up at 6:30.
Now I walk the dog regularly, so walking isn’t entirely foreign to me. But we take the same path nearly all of the time – down the block past the barking Shitzhu and the three cats, past the house with the amazing night blooming jasmine, across the road to the empty lot, up through the vacant bank and over to the park for a couple of rounds on the shell trail. Sometimes I’m lazy or it is raining and he only gets a cursory tour of the alley.
This walk was to be different. I need to get in training for the AT any time that I can. I also like to be efficient. I surmised that I could get in a five-mile hike AND get my grocery shopping done. After checking to make sure the grocery was open on January 1, I set out around 8 a.m. The weather was overcast and cool, and my backpack was pretty light. This was a jaunt! Well, except for the hiking boots, which I’ve not had on since last winter’s camping trip. They are heavy. On the way to the store these are the things that hit me about walking.
Walking takes you back to childhood. For most of us, that is how long it has been since we were pedestrians. Once we got that driver’s license in our hot little hands it has been auto travel all the way. Walking somewhere changes things though. The homes become less of a muted blur and more personal. It is apparent who cares for their yard, who grows herbs, who picks up the trash, who likes their citrus tree harvest and who lets it go to waste. It once again makes a neighborhood up close and personal. It makes it your neighborhood. I discovered creeks that I drive over regularly that I confess I had no idea were there. Cool tiki huts along the creek in the backs of yards. Sleek kayaks hanging from sides of houses. Big boulders in yards that had never even registered in my mind during the drive. It was a wake-up call for me as to how much I miss because I’m driving around, mind on other things, absent from where I am. Here are some snaps of things I saw on my hike.
People do look at you a bit strangely when you are backpacking, I admit. Not really a ‘town’ kind of thing. It was nice to get inside the grocery store and take the pack off, but it didn’t fit in the place I normally put my purse. My goal was a week’s worth of camping food, plus some normal groceries. I needed to see what it might cost to resupply in a town so I can budget that into my planning. Since I don’t normally eat much processed food, I am pretty unaware of what is out there. Suggestion: If you want to cut your grocery bill, hike it home in a backpack!! After doing my shopping and checking out, I had to take the buggy outside and pack the backpack with the food I just purchased. It suddenly became QUITE clear why Ramen Noodles is a preferred food on the trail. It is light, very light. Granted, I had things in the pack that I’d not normally lug on a resupply: some chicken stock, a quart of half & half, three lbs of onions and six lbs of apples. Suddenly that nice stroll up to the grocery store in a little under an hour felt like a breeze. How would getting home be?
It was a little less pleasant but not horridly so 🙂 It took me the same amount of time, but there was a lot less ogling the view and a lot more concentration on where I was putting my feet, adjusting the pack, and having some water. Even in 60 degree overcast weather, I was sweating buckets. Suddenly my cotton sweater seemed too heavy. I had another shirt in the pack, but wrangling the pack around didn’t seem like such a fun prospect at the time. I think it was the bag of apples making things so ungainly. Or maybe the sloshing sound from the stock and half and half getting irritating. On the way home, I had an idea. (walking seems to make ideas pop out of my noggin like popcorn!) I decided that since I didn’t have to go in to the office for the next four days, I’d ‘fake camp’ – bathing, cooking, hiking – just as I would do in real life. Except I do have to work in here part of the time. So that’s what I am doing over the next few days.
I got home and weighed my pack – 36 lbs. I would have sworn 80 lbs at the minimum, lol! I put away the non-camping groceries, stripped down the boxes and re-packed the food, clothing, sleeping pad, etc. A nice 27 lbs. After making my dinner on my camp stove on the porch, I did another two miles that night while carrying the lower weight pack and taking the dog along for company. I still have to add the water bladder to the mix, and my tent as well. But this gets me started and acclimated to the adjusting hiking weights I’ll be facing. Coming out of town it will be heavier as I load up on a week’s food, and lighter towards the end of the week after eating all of that stuff.
This morning I got up at 5:30, made my breakfast on the camp stove (oatmeal and coffee), and then did a mile with the pack before sitting down to write this little ditty. That leaves four more miles to work into the day before going to sleep. With work, I”m not sure I can get that done – might have to make tomorrow and Sunday cover a few more miles each day to make up for today.
Some things I’ve learned just in two days:
Hiking makes you smell. Even if you’re bathing and using deodorant. I don’t mind being dirty; I do mind being stinky, lol.
Everything is damp: socks, pack, clothes, boots, hair. When you put damp clothes back on, they are chilly.
You can walk with blisters if you treat them well.
Infection might be the highest worry on the trail. I got scrapes and welts from who-knows-where, in TOWN. Carrying a good natural antibiotic topical treatment will be important.
Two or three hours of exercise in the open air makes for excellent sleeping, and at far earlier times than normal!
I can honestly say that ringing in 2015 with good sleep, hiking and fresh air feels a heck of a lot better than what we used to do when young and foolish. The goals that I put into place last year are still going strong. I have new goals, mostly physical training.
Here’s to working on those things that are important to you, no matter the date or time. To a year that you make the best decisions for you that you can. As I walked I listened to the music on my iPod instead of using my phone. Here were my favorites from yesterday:
And just a fun song from Jason Mraz who’s music is just fun a lot of the time – great energy.
Get out and walk, and keep smilin’ 🙂