I woke this morning feeling sore and achy after yesterday’s adventure, and I considered staying in bed. No one but me would know I was being lazy, but I got up anyway. First challenge of the day met!! Yay!
I also considered taking a zero day (hiker parlance for a day without accumulating miles), but after puttering around for a bit and getting my muscles working, and after adjusting the pack again (since I have a hard time adjusting the shoulder straps when it’s on), I decided what the heck, just go. Second challenge of the day met!
Except it wasn’t that easy. The cold wind hurt my ears, so I came back for my earwarmers. Headed out again, walked a ways, and then realized I’d never make it with the cold blowing down the back of my neck. So I came back for a scarf. Headed out again. Left shoe came untied. Bent down to tie it. A real challenge with twenty-plus pounds on my back. Then the right shoe came untied. Then the right shoe. Sheesh. But I met all those challenges.
Finally, I got to the desert, made my loop and headed back. When I got to a crossroads where I could take my usual route down to a sidewalk and ending with an uphill trudge or I could take a slightly shorter route back without battling that final hill. I stood there for what seemed like minutes but I’m sure was only seconds, unable to decide. (My brother recently told me he worried about me because I seemed to have a hard time making decisions. Ya think?) I eventually took the usual, slightly harder route because this is supposed to be a challenge, right? Well, challenge met.
I had to stop a couple of times on that last uphill leg, but I made it. (Well, obviously, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.)
And these were just the challenges of this day.
I thought all these challenging faux backpacking trips on the weekends would have made a difference by now, but I don’t seem any stronger, have no more stamina or endurance, don’t weigh any less. I mean, I’ve been doing this for months now, haven’t I?
Uh, no. Although it does feel that way, it’s been merely four weeks. Still, I would have thought there would have been some sign that I’m getting more conditioned to backpacking, but so far, I don’t see a change, and did I expect some change. If nothing else, I thought I would feel lighter after taking off the pack, that hiking with the extra weight would make the rest of my life a bit easier, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I still lumber more than bounce when I walk, still struggle to get things done.
But then, the challenge is in the doing, and I am doing these weekends of backpacking practice. In fact, these weekend backpacking challenges are beginning to seem an end in themselves. Who knows — maybe by the time I’m in condition for a real backpacking trip, I’ll feel as if I’ve already accomplished what I want to accomplish.
Whatever that is.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Unfinished, Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.