Karen South Jones continues ‘brutal’ coast to coast adventure

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 12, 2022

Days one, two and three of my Coast to Coast walk have been, for lack a better word, brutal. They have also been awe-inspiring, spiritually uplifting, and exciting. I’m in the company of eleven other people, one of whom is our guide. For some background, the Coast to Coast can be walked unguided. There are plenty of guidebooks to help walkers navigate. That was not an option for me as I am what you may call directionally-challenged. Doing this without a guide would lead to certain disaster and, quite possibly, a Dateline episode. My walking companions range in age from 37 to 72, with various fitness levels. Two young ladies lead the pack every day, sprinting ahead like it was a race. I’m typically a fast walker but not on this walk. (I keep saying “walk” but that doesn’t do it justice. There are steep, high vertical inclines, scrambling over rocks and through creeks, and knee-jarring descents. And that’s just in the morning.) I’ve established a fairly comfortable and consistent position near the middle of the pack.
Another nice thing about a guided walk is that I only have to carry what I need for the day in my backpack. I quickly learned that I not only overpack my suitcases, but I did the same with my backpack. Once. On day two, I downsized dramatically and my enjoyment increased exponentially. It also helped that an experienced hiker gave me pointers on putting my pack weight on my hips instead of on my shoulders. By day three, I’ve got the pack loading and carrying down to an art.
We’ve been blessed so far with absolutely perfect weather. No rain. Neither too hot nor too cold. It looks like tomorrow our luck could run out, with rain forecast for most of the day. There is no rain delay in Coast to Coast walking. No worries for me, though. I have my waterproof jacket, my waterproof pants, my waterproof hat, my waterproof backpack cover, my gaiters, and my waterproof (hopefully) boots. By golly, I’ll be dry if it kills me.

Karen South Jones is sharing her experience on the 192-mile Coast to Coast walk across northern England. Wi-Fi and internet service along the route are spotty, so she’ll send updates and photos when technology cooperates.

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