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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 29: Nauen to Staaken (Berlin)

Distance: 22,5 km

Speed: 5,2 kmph

Time: 4h20m

Soundtrack: Berlin by Briskeby (for obvious reasons… )

So, I am in Berlin! I am still on the very outskirts and still have a final 17 km to go tomorrow to reach Berlin HBH and my final destination for this journey, but whatever happens now I can officially say I walked to Berlin.

I was a little concerned that I’d miss the sign, as I did when I crossed the border into Germany, while chasing paths through the pouring rain – but lo and behold, there it was:

A few more steps and I was officially there. I had to stifle a giddy, heady, almost mad laughter that started bubbling up in me. On the surface of it this project is kind of insane. Just another madcap idea I had. The difference being this time I actually followed through.

Many thoughts on the project, my experiences and what made me actually do it this time are yet to come. Once the dust has settled. Once I’ve taken my final walk (you know, for now, not for ever – that sounded a bit dark just there). Once I’ve had some time to rest, reflect and regroup.

As predicted there was pretty heavy rain today as well, but it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the previous two days. Today I walked with a kind of lightness, a joy (though yes the wet feet were icky) and a sense of absolute certainty that it would all be OK.

Even though I am in Berlin and even though I’ve walked more or less exactly the distance (635 km) I set out to when I first planned this project, I feel it’s still important to walk the last 17 tomorrow. And not only because my man should be waiting for me at the train station roughly when I arrive (though that does add to the feeling of anticlimax I’d experience if I were to say take the bus). Only then will I feel completely finished and like I have closure. Like I truly did the thing.

It’s supposed to be 11 mm of rain and winds of 40 kmph. But do you know what I say to that? COME AT ME, BRO!

(I’m probably going to want to eat those words come morning time, but just let me have this one, will you? I like just walked 635 km, mmmkay?)

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 28: Liepe to Nauen

Distance: 22 km

Speed: 5,2 kmph

Time: 4h10m

Soundtrack: Radio Ga Ga by Queen

Today was harder than expected. Partly because I expected it to be dry. It was not. I wouldn’t be surprised if it rained just as much as yesterday, just in shorter and more intense bursts. So there was some running and hiding under trees. And some being grateful that the rain cover of my pack seems to work well.

At one point I could look in one direction and see a clear, sunny day, and turn my head about 90 degrees and see a storm brewing.

I also ran into a couple of “path does not exist” issues again, one of which lengthened my walk by 1,5 km. After the app had sort of regained my trust by guiding me without fault through several forests, it’s starting to get unreliable again.

I also saw a dead raccoon, and I saw one yesterday too and a beaver the day before that. I have yet to see live versions of either animal, and now that I’m in an urban area again I suspect I probably won’t.

Aaand now that I have finally defeated mister blister in combat (he was a worthy adversary and put up quite a fight), my other foot is starting to hurt all over the place. I suspect walking for two days in wet shoes and socks hasn’t helped the foot situation much.

BUT, I made it through another day, and I only have about 40 very rainy and windy kms to go to Berlin – which I could probably even do in one day if I was keen on really killing my feet before I get there. But I’m not, so though I’m impatient, I’m still thankful it’s split in two. But I’m so close now I can taste it.

What does Berlin taste like, you ask? It tastes like joy, pride, humility and gratitude.

And now I think it’s time for me to go see what the Asian food in the restaurant downstairs tastes like, as I feel like it’s calling to me… Laters!

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 27: Rathenow to Liepe

Distance: 20,5 km

Speed: 5,6 kmph

Time: 3h40m

Soundtrack: Why Do You Love Me by Garbage*

*Because of the text “I get back up and I do it again, I get back up and I do it again… “

So I remember reading a while ago that rainy hikes are slower than non-rainy ones. Which on the one hand is surprising, because you’d assume people were more motivated to move and reach their destination if it’s raining, but on the other hand is also kinda understandable as it does feel heavier to walk in the rain and maybe you’re wearing more gear to protect yourself from the weather, etc.

Well, I always knew I was exceptional… 😉

Seriously though, today was basically just a wet slog and I was determined to get through it as quickly as I could. Which turned out to be very quickly indeed.

Today there was no stopping to admire the scenery or listen to unfamiliar bird calls. Today was only me, the road, the rain and Harry Potter (I actually have barely listened to audiobooks so far but today it was necessary). It was wet, clammy and uncomfortable.

I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to hop on the train again this morning and avoid another 12 km or so, but it seems silly to “cheat” at this stage, and I am still determined to see it through. And y’all should know by now that I can be pretty determined…

So the best thing I can say about today is that it was over quickly. I am warm, dry and clean once again, and have even had some veggie soup that my Airbnb hosts offered me. And I only have 3 days to go…

Which is a good thing, because I am getting so TIRED. I feel like I could go to sleep right now (17:30) and sleep till morning. I just sat here and zoned out for a good 30 minutes while writing up this blog. I wake up every morning feeling kinda hung over, even though I’ve not been drinking. I could be dehydrated I guess, but I’ve been pretty good at drinking lots of water. I think it’s just the accumulated effort of the last month that is getting to me. But I can totally get through the next 3 days. And then I might end up seeing more of the inside of a Berlin hotel room than the actual city, but that’s OK. Apparently you can get by train from Amsterdam to Berlin in only 6 hours. 😉

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 26: Schönhausen to Rathenow

Distance: 19,5 km

Speed: 5 kmph

Time: 3h53m

So today was another easy day (mostly), and my first hike under 20 km – even my hiking app defines this distance as intermediate, and not expert (like all the others have been).

I spent much of the morning walking along a path close to the train tracks, watching the ICE (intercity express) trains whizz by between Amsterdam, Berlin and god knows where, and questioning my life choices. ;-p

One thing I was curious about (one of the many) before this trip was how it would be to “walk into autumn”. Basically to spend so much time outdoors while the seasons were changing. Would it be a different experience than when you only go outside briefly each day, mainly to get to other places? Would it feel less sudden?

So far I have to say there hasn’t been much of an autumn vibe going on, besides the abundance of pumpkins. Perhaps especially with the unusually warm and sunny days we’ve been having lately, it’s felt more like late summer than autumn. But today it has descended – again rather suddenly. Although I miss that particular autumn crispness on the air, the leaves are changing and falling, and storms are brewing.

Though 25 degrees and sun is a bit much for a 20-30 km hike with Voldie in tow, I am still thankful for the relative clemency of the weather so far. Tomorrow’s predicted 15 mm of rain is – let’s say – not ideal, but I guess also sort of expected when autumn announces its presence. And in Norway we have a saying: there is no bad weather, only bad clothes (in Norwegian it rhymes), so tomorrow it is time to rain suit up and knuckle down, just keep moving..

And speaking of knuckling down – though the additional rest day no doubt did me good, my right foot is not having a good time, and even after as little as 5 km it started acting up. I’ve had a little chat with it though (what, you don’t talk with your body parts?? ) and given it some massage, and just let it know that we’re almost there.

I don’t enjoy pain. I enjoy comfort. I do respect pain though. I listen to it. And I believe in most cases it has a point. If only to say “hey, slow down, take it a bit easier”.* I think we can push through almost anything, and we are much less limited than we often believe. But I don’t think we necessarily *should* push through everything. Pain is a warning sign from the body, and it’s important to recognise what that warning is. Part of loving – or even just respecting – your body is listening carefully and lovingly to what it is saying.

Try not to be disappointed in your body, or get angry with it. Think about all the amazing things your body can do, and has done – all the million little things it does automatically every day to keep you alive. When your body signals that it needs a break or it is in pain, talk to it like a friend, send it love, touch it gently, and just keep checking in and listening. Let your body know that you hear it. Let it know that you appreciate how far it has let you come, and ask it if maybe you can go just a little bit further.

***

Dear body, dear right foot, dear hips, knees, left foot for that matter, back, shoulders, brain… Thank you for letting me come this far. I love you, I respect you, and I am grateful for everything you do. Can we go just a little bit further? I promise, we’re almost there.

*I’m talking here about the kind of pain you might experience from doing a project like this, or pushing your body to perform in sports, not the kind of pain of chronic illness or disability which is an entirely different kettle of fish, and which I as a healthy, able-bodied person will not presume to know anything about.

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 20: Hohne to Ehra

Distance: 32 km

Speed: 4,7 kmph

Time: 6h44m

Soundtrack: Fix You by Coldplay

I’m kinda liking this aesthetic I have going with beautiful idyllic pictures of nature juxtaposed with me whining about my feet and how lonely I am. Aren’t you? No? Well too bad, it’s my project and I’ll whine if I want to…

I actually did have quite a bit of woodsy quiet bits today and I think every single forest path my app indicated I should take existed. Which is good, otherwise I would have been in trouble. So I guess I was right to trust the universe.

And right to trust my body too, because I’m here, I’m alive, and while not exactly kicking can still sort of hobble a little bit.

Today’s first challenge was dealing with anxiety. My already existing anxiety regarding if the map would be correct, and the added anxiety of various incidents that kind of compounded it. It’s been a bit of a weird day and I cried a lot (anyone who knows me well knows that I cry a lot normally, so this in itself is not alarming, though I’ve cried unusually little during this trip so I guess I had some saved up… )

I’ve not written in that much detail about travelling solo for this long with anxiety, and I don’t want to go into too much detail now either, as I still have 10 days left to go – and writing about it gives power to it.

But let’s just say that when you have some anxiety and a vivid imagination you may find yourself walking through the woods, heart hammering, cold sweat, needing the toilet, because somewhere in the distance you hear what you believe is rifles going off, and there was a roped off piece of path nearby. Nevermind the fact that you with your bright pink coat can not be easily mistaken for say a deer or a bird, particularly not when insistently humming to yourself – there could be an accident. And let’s not forget about that one episode of Criminal Minds (or actually, let’s.. ) – maybe someone out there in the woods *wants* to shoot me? And then you may find yourself going past a creepy (abandoned?) building enclosed by a tall barbed wire fence with a hole in it, and you may construct a story about an escaped criminally insane lunatic roaming the woods. You know, normal, soothing stuff like that.

It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t felt completely in myself today. It actually started last night when I thought I was getting sick. And I’ve been feeling this heavy fog in my head, a dizzyness, lack of presence, startled by insects, creaking doors, let alone the thought of escaped mental patients. You’d think the walking would help bring the presence back, but it just didn’t really. I also did some energy tapping under way (as I often do) to try and centre myself, but it also didn’t have as much of an effect as it usually does.

And I just kept seeing weird things. Like this cage/shed with a lock on it and a weird machine inside, a statue of a bear (yes I’m sure it was a statue) in front of a hanging canvas in the middle of nowhere, these eerie looking trees…

It was just not a day conducive to good mental health. So I sat down under a tree and bawled into my bag of baby carrots, as I’m sure we’ve all done at some point in our lives.

And then I cried some more on the bathroom floor and in the shower. I think I’m just exhausted. And starting to miss my man and my cats (and my house) terribly.

The thing is, the walking is painful and it’s hard, but I’ve been doing it so long now that I’m almost convinced I can just continue doing it. It’s everything around it that’s doing my head in.

That being said I did still find moments of joy in the stillness and beauty of the forest and the smell of the pine trees (or as J would have said: “oooh, Christmas trees!” – I really miss you, man… ). But maybe not as much as I would have with 25 km less to walk, a smaller pack and a companion.

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Body Positivity Walk 2019

BoPoWalk day 17: Marklendorf to Celle

Distance: 27,5 km

Speed: 5,2 kmph

Time: 5h20m

Soundtrack: Stormy Weather by The Kooks

I sure can walk fast when I know a rest day is coming!

It wasn’t only that though, I opted for walking along the main road again as I didn’t have the patience nor the feet for detours, and there were few opportunities to sit down. Also, around 3 o’clock there was a scary amount of wind. A dust storm blew up from a field across from me and I had to walk with my sunglasses on, hood up and hands covering most of my face to not be blinded. I was a bit worried it was unsafe to walk, as I felt the wind tug at my pack and saw the trees nearly bending over. I considered hopping on a bus, but decided to risk it, just walk faster to get it over with, and I ended up being fine. It’s a reminder to look at wind strength when checking the forecast going forward – autumn is the season for strong winds, and if there are weather warnings I will have to try and find alternate transportation. Hopefully it won’t come to that.

I am glad I got to Celle early though, because guys… Getting here.. It has just been so amazing. Not only do I have a lovely, cozy and spaceous room here with a lovely host, but it has it’s own bathroom – with a tub! I was not expecting that. Another thing I was not expecting was that my host has puppies. 9 of them! They’re only 3,5 weeks old and soooo cute and soft and tiny and fluffy.. And well, all the good things. Here is some video evidence:

But wait… There’s more!

There’s also fresh laundry as got to borrow a washer and dryer instead of doing laundry in small and crappy hotel sinks.

But wait… There’s more!

After a bubble bath and some puppy cuddles I was in desperate need of dinner, and planned to go to a cheap Greek place up the street. But it was closed. So was the second nearest restaurant. And the only other one that was close had an Italian name so I figured it was a pizzeria (German’s are big on pizza, and actually they do make pretty good ones), so I thought fine I’ll have pizza. But when I got there I realised it was a fancy-pants high class restaurant. But I just could not face any more walking. And considering the microwave dinner I had last night and the leftover bread and cheese in my lonely hotel room the night before, I decided I could splurge. I even had a little bit of wine with my food for the first time since I started this walk. And it was soo good (the food and the wine), and I just felt amazing. And I realised I have already changed.

Not that long ago I would not have considered going into a place like that by myself, let alone in leggings, bright pink sneakers and a long sleeve t-shirt (no makeup, hair in disarray…). But now I could not give two figs. I wanted food. They had it. It was delicious. I felt comfy and happy. The end.

And guys, I just feel so… Good. Happy. And it’s such a relief after struggling quite a bit most of this journey.

I know there will still be challenges ahead, including but not limited to a few more long days with blisters and all the mental mind games that come with this insane venture. But right now I am happy. Tonight I am victorious. And tomorrow I can rest.