The Pain and the Glory of Hiking

The Camino is now big news in South Africa with Erns Grundling’s television series. It sounds like a huge adventure to a lot of folks around here.  In our circles people are also getting excited that my wife and I are going.

Yes, the Camino is one of life’s peak experiences, no doubt about it.

It is always a metaphor for the journey of life for me. My own experience tells me that nothing that is really worth doing well is ever easy.

At the moment the preparation for our Camino is in the stage of providing a lot of pain.

I took a day of leave from my work to test my walking abilities, 3 months prior to the Camino, to see where I am at the moment fitness wise.  I set a new record today- the furthest I have walked since my Camino in 2011. It might not sound that far to more experienced hikers. But I am in my 50’s, and carry quite a few pounds too many body weight around.

This morning:

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There is quite an uphill out of our town in my chosen direction.  According to endomondo I have climbed more than 120 meters in 7.34 km. And then it was downhill back home. My old problem with blisters is appearing again, even while wearing comfortable boots and reasonable socks. I am trying the advice of rubbing my feet in methylated spirits after walking, I hope it will toughen my feet’s skin soon. I am good for 12 km at the moment, after that my legs and feet start hurting.

That is the painful part. But every hiker knows there is a reason why we keep on walking.  I live in a beautiful part of South Africa, surrounded by game farms filled with wildlife.

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6 km from my home there is this wonderful shop alongside the road- we South Africans love our “Padstal” or Farmstall.  This one is the “Wildevy” or Wild Fig Deli, named for the huge type of tree next to it. They sell meat products, as well as baked goods, and cold drinks. The specialty of this store is biltong (much better than jerky…) and ‘droëwors”- a dried sausage, much better than it sounds, try it if you ever visit South Africa.

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On my way back, at 9 km, it was so good to turn in to this store, and buy some Droëwors and an ice cold coke!

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This is why hiking is so rewarding- these moments of rest and reflecting while sitting on a tree stump. After this- the downhill back home did not hurt my feet that much…