img_2809Every long walk churns up fear for me before it begins. Will it be too hard for me? Will I get lost? (Well, actually, I know I’ll get lost sooner or later, because I’m not lost-averse enough.) Might I get hurt? If I’m walking alone, I wonder if I’ll meet a scary trail interloper. I worry about running out of water in the heat, about slippery rock surfaces if it rains, about my bum knee collapsing on a steep downhill.

     But I love nothing better than seeing what’s around the next turn on the path. Last fall in the Smokies, it was piles of steaming bear poop. The poop part was fine; it was the idea of the bear who just rumbled off that got my attention.

     Hope, though, always outruns fear. There is something about lacing up the boots and pulling on the backpack that makes my heart beat with delight. I love the open skies, the dark trees, the good company. For my pilgrimage walk on the Camino Santiago Compostela, I hope I can outlast the long miles, find all the signposts, and naviate through the countryside of Portugal without speaking a word of Portuguese.

(The path in the picture runs along the North Sea in England.)