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Stuart "Tintin" Skinner
Begins: Mar 14, 2010
Entry Visits: 663
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Just for starters
This was my first hike with thru-hiking the AT in mind. I have read countless accounts, blogs and forum posts about the varying factors that see people quit the trail. I have every intention of finishing, but the thought that I might have to finish pre-maturely is cause of a lot of anxiety at the moment. Perhaps ignorance is bliss, but then a lot of problems that people have expressed could have been avoided. After enduring excruciating problems with my knee on my long distance cycle trip through SE Asia that sapped my soul of it's spirit; I hope to discover ailments and rectify any problems before I step foot on that plane.
So it was with that spirit that I took off to the UK's longest trail, the South West Coast Path, that passes through my hometown. It's a beautiful part of the world and any walk along the trail, renowned for it's Jurassic heritage, is a day well spent. There was a light drizzle with strong gusts of wind and I deliberately wore as little as possible to see how my merino wool base-layer and t-shirt faired (specifically designed for surfers). I got wet pretty quickly, but it was a "warm wet" and allowed me to fully focus on enjoying the numerous bird reserves that the trail passes. I wish I had a birds of Britain book as I was astounded by the variety I encountered. I had those that prefer the comforts of the water to the left and those that perch on trees to the right. I did have a good old chuckle to myself at the expense of a pheasant I startled; I literally scared the shit out of it!
After a few miles, the conditions worsened, owing to the buckets of rain that have poured down us recently. I was effectively walking through a marsh as the trail strayed from it's usual coast-hugging position and into farm land. This coincided with the sky turning an apocalyptic shade of grey and the light drizzle was now a heavy downpour. I resisted putting on my waterproofs and continued with the merino base-layer and t-shirt combo and this continued to hold up well... but the blue dye on the t-shirt had other things in mind, running amok with my once white base-layer. It's a shame the Grateful Dead aren't still around as I now have another purpose for my base-layer!
There is very little elevation on this section of the Coast Path; gone are the white-cliffs west of Weymouth, but I might as well been wading through the sea at some points. I wouldn't have been surprised to see one of the old boys leaving his farm chores to one side whilst he worked on building an ark for his farmyard guests. I was soaked to the bone by the time I reached Abbotsbury, but most importantly, I was still warm. I was also caked in mud having slipped down a mound. Luckily, nobody was around to witness the calamity and I could walk in to one of the many quaint tea houses with my head held up high. Well I thought I could. My pride took a good old battering when upon entering the tea room, the very prim and proper proprietor told me I could only come in if I removed my muddy gear. There's not a lot I won't do for a clotted cream tea (one of shining gem's in all things English) and I happily obliged, stripping down to my long johns and newly hippy-fied baselayer. I can think of no better reward than fresh scones, with fresh clotted cream and a steaming hot cup of tea after the end of a wet walk. It was delightful way to end thoroughly tranquil walk.
Afterthoughts: I have just finished a book on the AT where one thru-hiker warns people of doing "too much, too fast, too soon". I had all day to do this walk yet walked it very quickly considering the conditions. I was a little sore the next day so I must make sure that I remember that it's not a race: the more gentle I make the walk, then the more gentle the walk will be on me. I think I am worrying a bit too much about injury concerns and the weight of my kit. I have done enough challenging events to know my body fairly well these days and if I listen to it; then I'm sure I won't cause myself any avoidable injuries.
Gear: am very pleased with my gear and have faith in my choice of base-layers. My heel was a tad sore during the walk and immeditaely invested in some green superfeet insoles.
I plan to catch a bus to Abbostsbury tomorrow and hike another section of the trail. I might wear my green t-shirt and pray for rain and really go all out on my base-layer. I will post a picture of the results!
The Real Adventures Of Tintin
Thru hiking to Maine whilst raising awareness of mental health issues.
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