Well, it had to happen, and to be honest the ground needed it. At least one of my nine days walking was always going to be wet and today – day five – was definitely wet. Water, water everywhere … We saw it in streams and pools and quarry lakes and loughs and it fell from the sky as drizzle and mist and as good, honest, properly wet rain!
My wonderful walking companions for today were all soaked to the skin by the time we finished. And after six hours on the go we were all exhausted too. The 8 miles we expected to walk turned out in reality to be more like 14 miles once we added in the incessant climbs and descents – up and down and up, and just as we thought we were nearly there, we would come over the peak and see ahead of us another plunge down into a valley with a steep climb the other side along the crags, following the now ever-present Wall.
With the wet stone steps and steep hillsides, it’s a miracle no one slipped and hurt themselves. (Speaking of miracles, thank you to those who prayed after my last post – I’m delighted to report that my blood sugars behaved themselves much better today which was a big surprise given the more strenuous exercise!)
As well as all the water round about me, I wanted to make a particular mention of my camel pack, kindly lent to me by an officer at the ATC squadron in Hamilton. Someone asked what that hose was round my neck in a picture I’d posted and this is the answer. It has been so useful to have a reservoir of water on my back with easy instant access through the pipe that sits right by my mouth. It was especially useful to be able to take little sips regularly when it was hot, but it was also a great help today in the rain when I really didn’t want to have to keep stopping to get a drink out my bag.
The extra company, difficult terrain and poor weather have successfully distracted me from thinking too much about the significance of reaching this half way point in my walk. But I am pleasantly surprised by how much energy I have, physical and emotional. It’s like the wells that had run dry are being refilled.
One friend today commented that he could see clearly how this part of the walk was in fact part of a much bigger journey. It was easy to look back and see how far we’d come and to look ahead and see the Wall snaking over the hills in the distance (at least before the mist came down!) Looking back and looking ahead gave him a better sense of how this part fitted into the whole.
The walk4andy is part of a bigger journey I am on to work through and try to make sense of the pain of so much loss, and every little step, every little sip, is moving me nearer to where I need to be.
Two more lines from the Celtic prayer I’m learning this week:
You are my Lord, and with me still
You are my love, keep me from ill