Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Why'd You Put Your Backpack On?


Guarding the Gatepost
"Why'd you put your backpack on, if you won't just take a hike?" The words from the Barenaked Ladies song have come back to me regularly since I got back from China. For those that don't read my travel blog, I have been away for a month trekking to the base of K2 and having a mostly awesome time. I have learn an enormous amount about Uigur history and culture, a surprising amount about how difficult it is to trek at altitude and a fair amount about myself.

Pal in the Wheat Field
The trek was the hardest thing I have ever done. Not physically, maybe, but mentally I was not up to the job. Physically, well, I struggled and I needed to be a lot tougher. I could have walked it all, but I didn't go fast enough and this was more of a problem for other people than it was for me. Consequently, I sepnt a lot of time on donkeys/camels/motorbikes and by myself walking at a slower pace. The mule riding was not, generally, my idea. I was coerced into it by people who wanted me to go faster. 

Wild Garlic Trail
So, given the problem of speed, I decided, once I got back home to try to improve on my pace. Every year there is a walk called Pound the Bounds organised. The walks (pick your favourite length) are around the boundary of the parish of Rock. I decided to go for the 12 mile walk with my favourite mutt, Pal. And I was going to do it as fast as I could walk.

Mad Sheep
I have an app on my phone that tracks a walk. It talks to me every five minutes, giving an average. I wanted to average 3 miles/hour, but in the end I only managed 2.5 miles/hour, over fences and streams and stiles and getting lost. I did 13 miles (I told you I got lost) in 5hrs 30mins, with one five minute sit down. It was tough, and the tendon at the back of one knee hurt for a day afterwards, but it wasn't dreadful. I was reasonably proud of myself.