The wind was blowing in my face and Trudy was walking in front of me to keep us both in pace. “Just a little more, just a little more” I kept telling myself. We were now walking on the other side of the dike, so I couldn’t see how far the bar was where we would rest. Finally at the bar, I sat down and knew for sure. I have to quit this journey.
10 days ago I started a journey with a good friend of mine. Walking 300 kilometers around the border of our province to gather stories from our backyard. Since this little journey was squeezed into our working lives we had to finish in 12 days. That meant 30 km per day, for 10 days.
I’ve been training a little, walking an hour with 12 kilo’s in my backpack, nearly every evening for a week. It’s been a while I’ve been jogging, but since I bike every day nearly 40 minutes, I think I’m pretty fit. Last November I went on a little journey in the Ardennes, walking 90 kilometers in four days. No pain, hardly any blisters but also no strong headwinds.
My bag was a bit heavier this time and on the second day of the trip I felt a my knees hurting a little. But it was evening, and after a night of sleep, my body must have been revived and my knees rested for another day. They were, until after 10 kilometers of walking the pain started slowly sliding in again. Because the weather was bad, and there was nothing else then meadows, we kept on walking. At some point we stopped at a bird watching house; the place thing were we could sit down and not be in the wind that was picking up again.
I stood up and directly my knees felt worse then before. But we had to keep walking, because we were now in the middle of nowhere. Our objective was a sailor bar in the middle of the meadows, five kilometers further. We kept on going and 45 minutes later my knuckles where white of pain in my knees that was now radiating through my achilles tendons. By now we were close to the bar, and I was thinking what to do there. Should we maybe pitch the tent there, and chill for the rest of the day? Or go back and find another way of finishing this journey?
Finally at the bar I knew if I would’ve go on, I would’ve walked until I really couldn’t go anymore. Until my knees would be damaged. And I like my knees. I enjoy walking. And I would like to walk more in the future. While walking the beach two years ago, I injured my knees. I was not planning to hit the same stone again,
Planning a trip like this takes some time. Planning the route, getting some media to publish the stories on, making promopictures. Getting the gear, talking with sponsors. It all takes time. And not to forget why I make these journeys. To get better in writing, making pictures and filming. To get out there and enjoy the nature. To get away from regular life and live in a tent for 12 days. To breath fresh air and feel the cold on my face. To feel alive again.
It’s hard to cancel a trip like this. But it’s not a trip like Leon McCarron and Dave Cornthwaite are doing and the injury is not too bad. It’s not a journey of a lifetime, and I know I can finish this project another time. The stories will stay, the area will stay and I will stay. Quitting a journey like this a learning point for me and next time I will just be better prepared, so I can walk 300 kilometers in my backyard without the thought of exploding knees.
In the end we did 75 kilometers and collected two stories in three days. Thats not too shabby.
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