About a week ago, I received an email from Mike that said, “We’re doing something different this year – a combo walk-about and pilgrimage in Southwest France. I suspect I might have had a past life in the region, so we’re going to head there and just walk. Right now we’re talking about arriving in Bordeaux and walking to the Mediterranean, though this plan might change by the time we get on the plane tomorrow night. Who knows. The reason we’re walking is that we’re going to be putting ourselves out there to be in as much contact with the land and structures and people as possible. We’re taking sleeping bags and a tent, so we’re hoping to sleep on the ground. The trek is around 350 miles.”
I was sitting in the living room of Travis and Aliya’s apartment in NYC when I got it. Mike was on the couch and I turned to him and said “Did you really just send this out to like 100 people? You know this means we have to do it now, right?”
The truth is, I really don’t think much about what we are doing, I leave that part up to Mike, but I am the logistical one in the duo and so I started thinking about how we’d get where by what means and what we would need to take. Ten days and many trips to REI/Decathalon later we are about to begin this walk-pilgrimage thing and I still have a few nagging concerns.
#1 It is the dead of winter. Today, the temperature was in the thirties and at night it gets below freezing.
#2 Neither of us has ever hiked for one whole day in our lives.
#3 Neither of us has ever camped other than out of a car.
#4 Overall ill-preparedness in general
The things we do have going for us are that we did do a one-hour test walk around the chateau grounds. Luckily it was just as cold and rainy as it will be for the hike and we survived the test. Later, Mike had a dream about trees or stars or something and ended up finding his way to this specific tree and at the base was a giant ring of mushrooms. The internet revealed that it was called a fairy ring and mythically it is where elves congregated, so we had to set up our tent in the middle of the ring and sleep out there during a storm. All in all, both tests seemed to go alright, so off we go.
In all honesty, I am excited for this hike. We returned the rental car early and I must say the feeling of freedom really shocked me. Usually I associate having a car with freedom, but right now, I feel empowered to walk anywhere, even if there are no roads! I have never had the chance to just walk somewhere like this. I like to think of it as my very own Oregon Trail type situation. Would I have made it or started crying and stopped? We’ll see today!
We aren’t bringing our big camera on this walk (too much weight), so for the most part, it is all imagination.