BoPoWalk day 21-22: Neuferchau to Kalbe to Stendal

Distance (total): 52 km (28+24)

Soundtrack: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers

OK, so it’s kilometres, not miles, but who’s counting? (I am, I am!)

I actually breached the 500 barrier yesterday and am now at a total of 551,5 km walked, which means I have about 100 to go. Peanuts, right?!

As my Facebook friends know, I didn’t post anything last night because I pretty much didn’t have Internet for the first time during the trip. Seems Kalbe is a bit of a mobile Internet dead zone. It did make me reflect on how much I use the Internet on the road. I do have backups in my printed maps and list of contact details for all my accommodations, but I had to forego my usual blogging (probably just as well as I got there late and was dead tired), double checking of the weather forecast, next days route, details of the place I was staying etc. But a night off never hurt anyone and at least it was an excuse to go to bed even earlier. These days I find 10 o’clock is really pushing it.

So I spent most of yesterday walking through a large forest, started by seeing a deer and ended by seeing an otter – which was pretty cool (I actually said “YES!” out loud to myself after the otter and I had a moment both frozen in time on either side of the small canal before it scampered off into the water). I did have some moments of anxiety again, but when I got over it I had a nice time in the forest and could feel the calm and the timelessness of it all. Of just being, and putting one foot in front of the other.

And I encountered something I’ve not been able to train for: hills! Not mountains or anything, but still most definitely hills. But Voldie and I tackled them. And it was actually kind of nice though it made me a bit out of breath. Nice to get some cardio training, get those endorphins flowing, get a bit of a challenge for once, you know? πŸ˜‰

My feet were very weary towards the end of the day though, and today they have been kicking up a right fuss again.

It’s been a bit of a day and I’ve had to grit my teeth when taking a step, partly because mister blister has been acting up and partly just from sore feet and getting dirt and grime in my shoes. And may I say dirt and grime abso-fucking-lutely everywhere? I miss the luxury of actually remaining dirt free for a full day.

Today was once again a day of dry and desert like aesthetic. Walking alon a lot of dirt roads next to barren fields in the glaring sun. I had a day like that maybe a week ago as well and it just feels tougher because you feel so dry and dusty – like the dirt gets inside of you.

So, today was always going to be a day where I was going to take the train for one stop, as it otherwise planned out to 40+ km, which was 5 more than I bargained for with my original planning, and I just couldn’t risk that. So I cut it down to 28 with one stop on the train. I’ll need to take the train one stop in a few days anyway to get across a river, as the water is too low for the ferry to cross. And one of the things I need to learn from this journey is to let go of perfectionism and accept that life is messy, and to be a little bit flexible. It was never going to be one neat straight line from Amsterdam to Berlin, and things happen.

However.. I ended up taking the train for 2 stops instead, cutting down today from about a total of 29 to 24. I was just so miserable and dirty and in pain, and I walked right past the train station. And yes, I could have done it. I could have toughed it out. But I’ve done that. I’ve done that on another dusty, dry day like today. I’ve done that when I thought anxiety was going to overpower me. I’ve done that with 36+ km days, and two 30+ days after each other. I’ve done that in the pouring rain along the highways of Flevoland. And frankly I know I can do it and have nothing left to prove. There is a time for being tough and powering through, and there’s a time for being soft and forgiving. And I have chosen to let the soft animal of my body get a tiny bit more rest, instead of breaking it before the final stretch.

It was dizzying to be on a train after having literally only moved by the power of my own feet for over two weeks, but I won’t pretend it wasn’t also a bit of a relief.

Tomorrow I get to have my last day of rest before the very final stretch of 6 days begins. The first one should be very easy because of aforementioned train necessity, making it only about 8km, and the rest are no more than 23,5. Berlin, here I come!

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