I remember energy, I used to have some once!
It’s not been auspicious start to 2020 unfortunately as I have been down with a flu virus for some time. It started in mid December, masquerading in the form of lack of energy, weariness and aching but nothing more until the end of the year when it suddenly came out fully. I have still managed to get out for a few local walks but no real distances. Today though, I felt a little better, and the sun came out, so I made the most of it and went for a wander through the woods and heathlands for a few miles.
One of the good things about being laid up is that it gave me the chance to think over my activities for the coming year – I set out some possibilities in my previous post. Some of the ideas are beginning to crystallise a little but I think there is one conundrum that I have still not bottomed out!
The last long, full backpack I did was the Dales High Way some 15 months ago. That was 120 miles and I camped, meaning of course that I carried everything including tent, sleeping bag, roll mat, cooking gear etc. I am a ‘purist’ backpacker at heart and I started that walk by carrying everything. However, four days into the walk, my knees and ankles started seriously playing up and for a few days I was forced to use baggage transfer in order to reduce the weight of my pack, otherwise I would potentially have caused long term damage because of the amount of steep climbs and falls that were involved in that walk. At the time, I was gutted to have had to resort to what I saw as ‘cheating’, although it certainly enabled me to finish and enjoy the rest of the walk. Without it, I would have been in great pain and potentially had to give up the walk altogether.
In the autumn of that year, just to ‘prove’ to myself that I could still do it, I did a four day ‘purist’ backpack of the Dorset Coast Path and by minimising the weight I was carrying, using walking poles and knee braces etc, I managed to complete the walk without incident. Since then, I have backpacked the Pembrokeshire Coast Path but that was using B&B so there was no need to carry shelter, sleeping equipment nor cooking gear. I still had twinges along the way but nothing that pain killing cream couldn’t take care of.
So my conundrum for this year is, do I aim to go ‘purist’ and try carrying everything again, or do I take the sensible option and use baggage transfer so that I can walk lightweight.
In some ways it leads to a more fundamental question – when is it time to accept that you are getting old! Now here, I think there is a conflict because whilst you need at some stage to accept that you can no longer do what you used to do when you were 20, or even 50, you definitely don’t want to become ‘old before your time’ and give up pushing yourself. It is good to stay young in heart and mind as long as possible, whilst at the same time applying a bit of common sense because it is not only energy level that drops as you get older, things like cognitive ability, balance, muscle mass, vulnerability etc are also affected, not to mention bones and joints becoming more creaky.
I will be 72 this year, and the older I get, the more essential I see it that you need to keep active, and regularly so as well because you lose your fitness quicker when you are older. I am also stubborn and, as someone who has been active and sporty all my life, don’t like to admit that I am ‘getting past it’ or nearing the end of my ‘purist’ backpacking days. Of course most wouldn’t even consider ‘pure’ backpacking at any age – statistics suggest only 2% of backpackers carry everything, the rest resorting to baggage transfer.
So perhaps the reality is, can I get my head round the fact that it is fine to use baggage transfer, it is not ‘cheating’, it doesn’t mean I am giving up, and it probably makes the whole experience more enjoyable? At the moment, I think I am still struggling with that one!
Maybe I can manage one more year of pure backpacking…………but perhaps I’ll just keep the Sherpa telephone number with me just in case!
Anyone out there have a viewpoint on this?
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings, and I hope you enjoy exploring with me.
Until next time,
The Dorset Rambler
If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@– comments and feedback are always welcomed.
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