Easy Does It: Get on the Good Foot!


The cold and the view.


After another night for us in pilgrim bunk beds, the day began under cold–not chilly–overcast skies, and we started our walking with rain gear on, fearing the big rainstorm all the forecasts and pilgrims had predicted. It stayed cold all day, but at least no rain came, even though the sun appeared only for about five minutes, and that was toward the end of the 20 km we did today (again with the wonderful company of Bill and Peter).

We were able to put away the rain gear, but the cold did not go away, especially when we came upon windy spots, such as the 570-meter peak of N.S. del Poyo, just beyond the towns of Sansol and Torres del Rio. Our goal was the medieval town of Viana, population 3,500.

Most of the trail took us through lush farmland, punctuated by hilltop towns that all had a church as their most visible edifice, especially from a distance.

Sansol appears.

                   Sansol appears.

In Sansol we stopped for water (hydration is extremely important, and besides drinking at least every 47 minutes, we drink at every town and refill our water bottles) and at Torres del Rio we had a snack of fruit and muffins. In retrospect, we realize now we should have had a sandwich because the next wasn’t until the end of the walk, Viana.

Today’s trail was less demanding on the feet because it was mostly dirt rather than rock or cement. There was some great views of the cultivated valleys.

Unfortunately, just outside Viana, the trail ended up going alongside a highway, and some of the cars going by were traveling at what seemed like absurd speeds worthy of a Formula 1 racetrack. I began to wonder if they really were going that fast or if it seemed like it only because I had become so accustomed to the slow pace of my own leisurely walking. Even the cars obeying the speed limit were going too fast for my tastes and the speeders seemed like outright lunatics. Where could they be going that made such haste appropriate or necessary? Why are they in such a rush?

Vic has a great way of putting it that came to him within the past year: everyone appears to be in a hurry to get where to do what? It’s much like the title of the education documentary Race to Nowhere, or the scene in The Little Prince that shows adults on a train rushing back and forth while the adults have no idea where they are going and why. Thoreau knew the problem, too, even back in the 1850’s, asking us in Chapter 2 of Walden, “Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry. People say that a stitch in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to save nine tomorrow.” The pace of our very movements is too fast, and thus the pace of our lives is too fast, especially in America, and it is unhealthy for us in so many ways. The Way of the Foot is our natural pace, slow enough to allow for mindfulness and the fullness of moment-by-moment experience and to prevent all kinds of physical and psychological damage to us. As my walking partner Vic Lindal says, “People are in a hurry to go where to do what?”

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1 Response to Easy Does It: Get on the Good Foot!

  1. Rob L says:

    I happen to be reading Don Quixote (Edith Grossman’s excellent and very readable translation) in which I ran across a snippet that reminds me of your adventure, a quote by the knight errant himself: “… we, the true knights errant, measure the earth with our own feet, exposed to the sun, the cold, the wind, and the inclemencies of heaven, both night and day, on foot and on horseback…”

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