OK, so today was… Different. In a good way!
Firstly, I have a confession. I was supposed to walk to Slagharen today, but I didn’t. When I looked more closely at the map last night I saw that Google again wanted me to walk on roads with no bike paths or sidewalks, and planning around it added 7 km to my route. And guys, I needed an easy day. The last two days have been rough.
There would have been a small gap in my route from today to Saturday anyway because of public transport/logistical reasons, so I decided I’d find somewhere to walk that had better walking roads and was roughly the same distance and right direction. So, I walked to Zuidwolde. And I had an amazing time.
I walked through farmland and cute little villages, talking to the goats and dogs and a particularly chatty horse I saw, I breathed in the smell of the trees and the grass, I let my eyes rest on the quiet of the countryside.
Today I came home the rosy-cheeked outdoors-woman of my dreams and visions. The one who is tired after a long day on the road, but in a good way – not a “please chop off my feet so they can’t hurt me” way. And it was everything I hoped it would be.
It was supposed to be 18 km, so shortest distance so far, though it turned into 19, which was still very doable. How did it turn into 19, you ask? Well, much like the people of Troy, I was distracted by a big wooden horse. And I’m not horsing around!
Anyway, a true testament to the difference in how I felt today and how I felt yesterday is shown in my reaction when I realised I missed a turn. I laughed at myself and went the 0,5km back up again. Yesterday, when I thought I had 5 km left and it turned out it was 5,8 I very nearly cried.
Another factor in today’s walk were my shoes. I decided, as an experiment, I was going to try to walk a leg in my running shoes. I had my hiking shoes with me just in case. My feet did get sore in the way that they were tired from walking all day, but not painful in the same way, they are not throbbing and blistery. Admittedly it was a shorter distance than most of my other walks, though kinda comparable to day 2.
So this is going to sound a bit silly maybe, but I think I *just* realised that my hiking shoes are too small/narrow. The thing is, they don’t feel uncomfortable to put on. It’s a snug fit, but not too tight and the material is flexible. But at the end of the day my feet have become lumps of pain. So, something isn’t right there, and I don’t think I can “blame” it on walking in the shoes after over a month of wear. So, I have decided that I’m going to do the rest of the hike in my running shoes. After all, I’m not going to be climbing any mountains. And my running shoes have insoles shaped specifically after my own feet, which probably helps (and they’re too large to fit into my hiking shoes). I’m a little concerned about the lack of ankle support (though some hiking websites claim ankle support is a myth, I still kinda feel like it would be a good thing), but I can work around that.
So, armed with the knowledge that I picked a route that goes mostly through the countryside, and with the hope that my feet will hurt less from now on, I feel positively giddy, and way more optimistic than I have any cause to be. But I’m going anyway, so why not be optimistic for a change?
Tomorrow is a much needed day of rest, and finishing up a few last errands, packing etc., before I set off for real, bright and early Saturday morning by public transport to Geesbrug, and then I start walking towards Berlin – like, for real. And I will not see home for almost a month. Which for some free spirits may be no big deal, but for me it is huge.