We are going to Patagonia! It is going to be amazing. We are going to see such pristine landscapes, beautiful mountains and we are going to hike. For eight days. And then maybe four more. With everything in our backpacks. No buses, not carriers. Just us. With 10+ kg strapped to our backs, for eight ours straight…
I figure we’d better be getting some training in. So as soon as we’d bought the stuff that we were missing, I booked us a weekend on the island of Texel in the middle of the summer for a trial run.
Patagonia is going to be windy. Most likely it’s going to rain a lot. We’ll be facing rain on rocky terrain and I am guessing we will hike up and down mountain ridges quiet a lot. So a mostly flat island during a dry-spell and heat wave should prepare us pretty well.
I can’t help but laugh at it, but at least this will give us a chance to try out all of our gear in a leisurely fashion in stead trying to set up a tent while we are just trying to get into our sleeping bags as fast as possible because we are getting drenched in the cold.
We’ve packed and weighed our backs and including food we’ll be carrying 10 and 11 kilos. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but hopefully we’ll eat a bunch of stuff and it will get easier. In the early afternoon we board a train, walk a bit (with Eriks sandals chafing a bit as he hasn’t put on his hiking boots yet), and board a boat. All in all, it takes a few hours, but it feels like we’ve really left home and can start our walking.
A few years ago, I tried hiking with a backpack for the first time. It was a complete disaster as the packs were to heavy and didn’t fit right, I didn’t see that our route would be mostly along freeways and the campsite turned out to be horrible. And while we are walking I can’t help but compare. The backpack I’ve got with me now is so much better. It fits well and I have way less stuff with me. My fitness level is better and this time the route takes us through a quiet dune and forest landscape. No cars whizzing past us with dizzying speed.
Just as I am starting to be amazed that the landscape changed even if we are only travelling at a snail’s pace (we are on foot after all), I start feeling the symptoms of fatigue. My feet start to ache, then my ankles and legs. My back starts to hurt. My fingers (that I have swinging by my side) start to swell and I am getting to the point of done exactly when we get to the campsite.
It’s of the very big and generic sort, but we’ve booked a spot at the very edge and are able to pretend to be camping in the dunes themselves. We set up the tent and cook dinner (careful to stay far FAR away from any dry grass) and have our first every freeze-dried meal. Not to bad.
At the beach, I think back on the day. All aches and soreness have already disappeared and I am nearing that state where I am already forgetting about any uncomfortable moments in the beauty of a sea side sunset. I think about how the rhythm of walking for a few hours can make all my insecurities melt away. Or maybe it’s the little aches. The thirst or the hunger. The intense need to finally take of my shoes and slowly (ever so slowly) peel of my shoes. Whatever it is, I want more of it. So I calmly put on my sweater, drink some tea and read my book in the happy knowledge that I get to do it again tomorrow.
Early the next morning, we make our hiker breakfast and enjoy a very calm cup of tea. Then we pack up our tent and bags – only ever so slightly clumsy as it’s the first time – and head out. First stop: the always beautiful drugstore to get blister plasters for Erik, as the underside of his feet have got blisters. And then it’s back into the relative wild of the island.
We make our way to “de slufter” and walk on and on past a very wide and open landscape. We get lost a few times, turning our 2,5-hour hike into a 4-hour hike, but for me that is ok. I simply enjoy putting one foot in front of the other past dunes covered in harsh grass, green clover and a yellow flower I am unable to identify.
On and on we walk. Into a field because we can see the farm that we are supposed to stay at and out of that same field because a ditch is keeping us from our destination. On and on again until we get to the lighthouse. It’s bright read body calling us towards the ocean. And I think it’s the only thing that keeps Erik going, because by now his feet are tormenting him. Every step hurts and so we decide not to hike on the next day.
But it’s not that time yet. First we get to enjoy a few hours at the beach. Looking at a paraglider trying to take off, people walking past and suddenly loosing an hour because I closed my eyes for a few minutes. Before we know it, it’s time to finally head out to the farm. To enjoy our evening and mostly, to enjoy a really good long hot shower. Rinsing the sand and the day off of our tired bodies.
The next morning, I try to see if maybe Erik has changed his mind, but he hasn’t. And so, we book our bus tickets – the busses won’t show up if you don’t let them know you want to travel, what kind of outback is this anyway! – and make our way to my parent’s garden to put our feet up and enjoy the sun. Not the end we’d hoped to have, but we now know what works and what doesn’t. And I can’t wait for our next try-out!