Yes, I know there’s a question mark at the end of the title.
As previously announced, my wife and I are planning late this spring to hike the Erie Canalway Trail, some 360 miles from the Niagara River to the Hudson River in upstate New York.
We’ll be spending nights in motels and B&Bs along the way, so there will be some long days – topped off by a 24-mile day – and several only 5-8 miles. Our plan is to walk about 33 days, an average of some 11 miles a day, with two or three rest days built in.
Now, you’ll notice everything has been stated in a positive, we’re-going-to-do-this voice. Then, why the question mark?
The only hiking we’ve done this winter – and not much of it, to be honest – has been town walking. A couple of times, we’ve walked to and from Walmart on the other side of town, a trip just a little more than six miles. Those have left me tired, but I keep reminding myself two things: One, it’s more than three months before we start, no need to peak too early. Two, one does what one needs to do. That is, walking six miles won’t wear me out so much when I set out needing to go 12 miles.
Monday, though, Leah and I did our first trail hike of the winter. We only heard recently about a 26-mile trail circling Lake Georgetown, about an hour’s drive from us.
It’s fairly rugged with a lot of rocks trying desperately to twist ankles. There was some elevation gain on the section we walked but nothing significant.
We did an out-and-back hike of a little more than six miles … and we were both beat.
During the drive home, we had to bring up the question of whether we’re being foolish to plan the Erie Canal walk. The most intimidating thing about it is that we’ll be on a strict daily schedule. We’ve already made reservations at several bed and breakfast inns and a few motels because we don’t want to take the chance of being stranded on foot without a place to stay.
That means, even if we’re tired and sore, even if it’s pouring down rain, even if it’s 40 degrees and windy … we’ll have to walk. (Hiring a ride to the next town is the ultimate backup plan but certainly not one we wish to enact.)
That means, the day after we walk 24 miles, we’ll have to walk 17 miles. Because we’ll have to go that far to get to the next town. (Some of you are thinking we should camp out some. That would mean carrying a lot more equipment and supplies and it would mean sleeping on the hard ground. No, thanks.)
We’ve been saying all along that we can do whatever needs to be done. But, to be honest, just how hard do we want to push ourselves? We’re not 18 anymore. Or 30. Or 50.
For now, however, we’re plugging on. We plan to keep ramping up our walking. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we aim to do back-to-back-to-back walks to experience a little of the daily routine.
And we’ll try to be honest with ourselves as our target day approaches.