When I stop, which is often, I slump against something, a tree, a pile of rocks, a stone wall. I stare around me at the wild, windy nature, palming handfuls of trail mix into my mouth, gulping and swilling cold wild water from my shiny blue bottle. I have taken water from streams, from springs, from lakes, even, in dry mouthed desperation, from puddles of brown oozing bog. Only at the tops of the mountains though, before the humans can drag their polluting machinery up so high or the sheep splash, piss and taint the peaceful flow. Just the algae, the fish and the small water creatures, shelled and jointed, swim in my waterbottle, you'd never know though, it's clear when I hold it to the light.
It's not that the walking has become harder, it's that the breaks have become longer, come more often. I must stop, stare, sit, put my feet in the air, eat some sugar. It doesn't leave time for other things, like writing, like responding to emails, like remembering my brother's birthday.
I suppose I'm explaining why it's been so long, why I've stopped updating for a while. It's not that there's other stuff to do, it's that there's other nothing to do. I need blankness, I need rest. In the end, a conspiracy of circumstances has granted it to me - an unexpected call back to work, followed by a lost purse. I've had the two weeks of working to allow my leg muscles to relax, kicking and twiching at night, shooting pains running randomly through my bones, stretching out in the swimming pool. They still hurt, in strange ways, a very small bone in my ankle will suddenly start to throb, spending an evening shouting at me and then returning to silence and obscurity overnight.
I still feel blank in some ways, I'm finding it very hard to write even this, sitting in a bland cafe, counting out my remaining coins, waiting for a bus.
I'm still in the pause before my bankcard arrives, the walk feels very far away, as if I couldn't possibly heave a rucksack onto my shoulders and walk with it, for months, over hills and mountains, down to the sea and around the coast, the icy wind stinging gritty droplets across my face, blowing my senses out to sea, the salt and grime tainting my sleeping bag until everything stinks and I am a wild eyed mad woman, staggering into pubs and getting stared at by the normal people who cower behind their safety barriers of just-in-case and what-if, fearing discomfort and the unknown. No no, that can't be me, I couldn't be that person, ending up like that. Right now I'm showered and clean, my nice smelling hair waving long across my shoulders.
Some people, people who I care about and who care about me, say I should stop for the winter. I can't. It wouldn't be a challenge if I did that, where's the story? What makes it worth giving money to charity in my name if I go home and put my feet up before things get difficult. Also, and more importantly, I don't think this will get so difficult that it becomes impossible. I think I can do this, walk through the winter. I feel rested, my feet hurt less, I'm going to go for it.