Sometimes, the best experiences push you to your limits. I am reminded of that thought as I walk the South West Coast Path in England. One particular day included stunning coastal views along a 15-mile walk with more than 9,000 feet of elevation change.
In the moment, it seemed like too much. My legs rebeled in pain as I neared my tenth hour on the trail. “Why do I do this?” I asked myself as I wondered if the sights were worth it.
A couple of days later, our English friend Ian surprised Sue and me on the South West Coast Path with a reunion. It brought back memories of our first distance trek, Spain’s Camino de Santiago, where we met Ian. I learned during a month on the Camino that working through hardships sometimes leads to rich rewards.
Ian’s friendship and many treasured memories came from those times on the Camino.
We have seven days and many more miles left on our journey from Minehead to Land’s End. Our fifth long-distance trek reminds me that time will guide me to realizing the rewards from taking on such a difficult challenge.
How do people who battle anxiety and/or depression find peace and happiness?
I have found answers to this question through reading the wisdom of some brilliant writers whose works I have featured here. (Click on “more books” in the menu to see them.)
But I have found some of my life’s most enjoyable times on the long-distant trails in Europe. My story about my first such journey became an adventure memoir, Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.
I am finding this happiness again in England on the South West Coast Path. Sue and I are about a third of the way through our 260-mile trek from Minehead to Land’s End. Here are a few scenes from England.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then walking the South West Coast Path is indescribable.
I am reading Raynor Winn’s best-selling book, The Salt Path, while walking in her footsteps on England’s South West Coast Path.
Except I am hardly following her lead.
Winn walked after she and her husband Moth lost their home in a business deal gone sour. Plus, he had just gotten news that he was dying from a neurological disease. They camped, mostly, and she wrote that they lived off 48 pounds a week. In two segments, they trekked almost all of the 630 miles.
Sue and I are fortunate that we are healthy and will return to our Oregon home. We have a shower, warm bed, and pub meals at the end of each day. We are carrying everything we need on our backs, sans the tent, sleeping bags and stove. Finally, should our script play out, we will hike “just” 260 miles from Minehead to Land’s End.
But, like Raynor and her husband and all who venture here, we are astounded by the glory of England’s southwest coast. The steep path challenges, but our senses bask in this experience.
A warning: Read Way Out There and you may find yourself buying an old VW Beetle, driving to Alaska and discovering magic while camping in the wild. At 22, J. Robert Harris drove solo across Canada on his way to Alaska and as I read the opening chapter, his words delivered his unbridled sense of adventure.
Now 75, Harris writes about his favorite backpacking journeys that many would not consider, even with expert guides. The Arctic National Park and Preserve, Baffin Island, Tasmania, the northern reaches of Canada, Switzerland and Australia are among his destinations. One chapter takes readers for a gripping canoe adventure.
He packs impressive courage and finds a sense of peace miles from civilization, in the home territories of polar bears, grizzlies and wolves. He is often alone, but never lonely. Danger follows him, but it only succeeds in making his stories impossible to put aside.