This morning, my husband was kind enough to give me a lift to a previous destination (see day 2) so that I could walk home from there.
As he starts work at 8am, this meant a nice early start. One advantage is that you get to do a lot of walking in the morning, and I’m a morning person that’s for sure. But everything in balance, one disadvantage is that when you’re feeling dog tired at the end of the walk, there is no new scenery to distract you from the aching feet, just the slog and the already embodied knowledge of quite how far you still have to go.
Still, I would say it’s been a good day and it feels great to achieve a 23km walk. Frankly, this slightly smug sensation is what makes it all worth it, as the actual walking won’t get massively easier unless I keep at it for more than the three weeks I’m intending.
There was quite a lot of contrast in scenery today, unlike all the fields and crops of yesterday. I walked through woods surrounding the Ru des Taillandiers, ru meaning little stream, on my way out of Crépy en Valois. Later on, I passed by the small Bois de Balisy, up the Montagne du Clos (not really mountain like at all, but everything is relative, and this is Picardy after all) into the Bois des Trois Chênes, through the Bois Pouttet and the Bois de Lessart, before just skirting the Bois de Droizelles. Woods are a very rich sensory experience. So many noises of birds, rustling leaves, creaking (especially with the winds of today); so much interplay of light and dark; so many possible perspectives; so much movement everywhere, from spiders scurrying at your feet to branches and leaves. It’s a sensual spectacle which calls for a lot of attention but doesn’t give you much rest. The texture underfoot changes a lot too. Some paths were very sandy, others more pebbly, others were hard dried mud, others had broken branches or leaves. So much to concentrate on all the time.
When I left the woods and got back onto a long straight bit of road (see the photo at the top of the post), a stretch I’ve already walked down twice this week on day one, I enjoyed the ability to calmly gaze at a point in the distance straight ahead. My visual focus allowed me to enter a more focused state of mind, arriving with each step, in spite of the discomfort my feet were giving me (just that really tired aching dull pain you get after you’ve been walking for enough hours – nothing special or worrying). It was the contrast above all that seemed to enable this comforting focus. For those few precious minutes, there was no walking, no feet, perhaps even no me (or not much me at any rate!)