Our twice a week walks, preparing to backpack the West Coast Trail, take a new twist. We dig out our backpacks from the cupboard, dust them off, figure out whose pack is whose, try them on and begin to walk with our backpacks on. Oh, and we add weight inside them.
The first week, I have 11 lbs and Murray has 12 lbs of pack weight. We raid the pantry to make up the weight. We carry a combination of water bottles, cans of beans, chickpeas, tuna and tomatoes.
Today we up the weight to 18 lbs for me and 23 lbs for Murray. I take my Garmin with us on our walk because we do not know exactly how far we have been walking. We have also been taking my hiking poles to practice with. I have heard and read that poles are a good idea on the West Coast Trail.
I have been told that walking uphill with poles is much easier. I practice and I agree with the statement. It IS much easier and quicker to go uphill using poles. The trick is to pole with every step, which takes some coordination, but once mastered going uphill is a breeze.
Murray and I share the poles, each taking one pole, when we are on the flats. We both find that alternating the pole between our hands reduces the swelling in our hands that we get when walking for a long time. Murray figures it has to do with working our hands with the movement of the pole which keeps the blood flowing, not allowing it to pool.
I haven’t quite got the downhill poling figured out. It feels clumsy to me. I think my knees will benefit from using poles, if I can figure it out.
The path we walk is mostly the path we cross country ski in the winter. It looks so different in the summer when there is no snow. The hills do not seem as steep and the trail looks much narrower in the summer.
We arrive home, I check my Garmin, and we are amazed that we have walked 10 km. No wonder my legs are tired!