Journal Entries from the Camino Fisterra (2/4)
October 19, 2017 (continued)
… Later, it began to rain, and for a while I appreciated the novelty of it, and my outlook in general was optimistic because my joints had loosened up from the pain and stiffness of the first couple kilometers. The drizzle was a price I happily paid for this glowing emerald green, tunnels of green moss and green ferns and green trees.
…As the path got steeper and the rain came down harder, my ipod battery died. I distracted myself by pushing to pass the couple walking a hundred meters in front of me. I wanted to have other hikers close behind as I ascended the biggest mountain of the trip. I imagined my t-shirt/poncho combination proving insufficient, my legs cramping or else tripping and falling, my body going into shock, dying of hypothermia in 48 degree weather on top of a hill in Galicia.
The adrenaline from this fear pushed me over the mountain in rain that fell in slanting sheets. And even then, I was enjoying myself. I felt daring. I felt the strain as the kilometers accumulated, 25, then 28, and my body rose to the challenge, appalled by my choices but complying.
But the last few kilometers were rough. The wind had slackened when I was descending, but the rain was still pouring, and I could feel my shoes *squish* with water every step. My knees burned hot, then cold, then numb, then back to hot again. I worried that I was punishing my body in not just an athletic challenge, but in a demand so unreasonable that the damage might interfere with my plans for the AT next year.
“Good job, knees,” I said. “Good job, feet. Good job, lungs.” I hoped positive reinforcement, aloud out there in the rain, might convince them all to keep going. I almost dreaded stopping, trading numbness for the inevitable retaliation that would follow when I gave my muscles and joints enough time to breathe that they could complain.
When I finally, finally, finally made it here to the albergue, I nearly cried in relief, and continued to make involuntary little whimpering noises as I pulled off my spongy boots and slid my spongy feet into my sandals.
Since then, the stiffness has begun to set in, but honestly, it’s not even as bad as yesterday. This isn’t the biggest reason, but a major part of why I love hiking is getting to observe just how far I can push my body, like a science experiment. I see it in a new light, like a marvel of nature, without all my usual resentment of it for not being beautiful enough or thin enough or symmetrical enough.
I don’t know. Anyway. Good job, legs. Good job, feet. Good job, physical, tangible me.