Saturday, April 08, 2017

Walk Thoughts #23: bloodied but unbowed

I just walked 37,365 steps, and I'm tired as hell. Some of those steps were walked while I was at work, but the bulk of them occurred this evening, after my boss dropped me at my place following a very nice early dinner at Gino's in Itaewon. (The boss and I ate a large Woodstock, i.e., a pepperoni and mushroom pizza.) Total walking time: about 6.2 hours.

I did my long creekside walk tonight—my first time doing that since last year. The walk takes me southwest, out of Seoul and into Gwacheon City. It's a long march, and in the past, there were 33 staircases along the way that I would climb. There are now 35: in my absence, the little construction elves have been at work, improving large sections of the path and creating two new staircases, both of which I climbed. Then, of course, there's the extra staircase at the very end of my walk, so my grand total of staircases tonight was 36.

I walked with my CamelBak ripoff strapped to my backpack; I quickly learned that I'll need to improve the hose system if I want to be able to drink while I'm walking. (With my original CamelBak, this wasn't a problem.) I also walked while wearing Spandex biker pants to minimize inner-thigh chafing, and I tried on my new pair of lightweight, breathable hiking pants, which were a bit too long, but which otherwise fit perfectly and did the job they were supposed to. So my various equipment tests were successful.

I was also curious as to how my body would hold up on an actual long walk similar to what I'll actually be doing on the trail. My pedometer—which often lies—tells me I did 18.36 miles tonight (probably closer to 20 or 21 miles); my main walk started at 8:35PM and ended well after midnight. The damage report is this:

• achy shoulders from pack straps biting into armpits
• achy feet from the sheer amount of time spent and distance walked
• achy back (lower thoracic vertebrae)
• sore pads on the soles of my feet

The sore pads hint at blisters in my future. I'm fine right now; there's no serious pain to speak of, but twenty-five days in a row of this sort of walking will eventually take its toll, especially if I spend a few days walking in the rain.

All my aches and pains are relatively minor. I solved the pack-strap problem with a folded washcloth. If I stick to my schedule and finish each day's walk by, say, 2PM, I plan to do absolutely nothing but rest for the remainder of the day. Today's walk left me, metaphorically speaking, bloodied but unbowed: I think I ought to be fine tomorrow. And again: note the lack of blistering as long as I walk at a comfortable pace. I survived this long walk just fine.

When I reached the halfway point in Gwacheon (I pinged my location earlier), I turned around, but about ten minutes after making my U-turn, I was greeted with an amazing sight: three platoons of Korean soldiers marching along the bike path in Gwacheon. The soldiers were only loosely in platoon formation, and they were talking to and joking with each other as they walked. There didn't seem to be much discipline—no cadence, no body rigidity, no enforced silence, no terrifying sergeant barking out orders. I saw several guys holding those red, stubby-lightsaber flashlights that Korean policemen seem to adore, but that was about it as far as maintaining order was concerned.

So now, I'm going to take some meds (including a nice, heavy dose of aspirin), get to sleep, then go shopping for some supplies late Saturday morning or early afternoon.

More thoughts soon.


Surprises Aplenty said...

" achy shoulders from pack straps biting into armpits"
You're the expert but I wonder if your cross-chest strap was tight enough. With my much smaller backpack, the chest strap pulls the shoulder straps away from my armpits.

Kevin Kim said...

This will sound strange, but I can't use a cross-chest strap anymore. I don't know why, but when I tried using the strap early in my 2008 hike, the pressure it put on my chest made me feel as if I were going to have a heart attack. There wasn't just a heart flutter or murmur: it felt as if the strap were somehow impeding the beating of my heart. That feeling was frightening, so I became hesitant about using the strap. The problem solved itself a little later in the hike when the strap's mooring broke off, and I was unable to repair the damage. "Oh, well," I thought with relief.

Charles said...

Hmm. Not being able to use the chest strap changes the dynamics of the pack considerably. But I guess you gotta go with what works for you. For me, I have to have everything strapped down and pulled tight, so the pack feels like it is one with my body.

Kevin Kim said...


I just spent a few sweaty, frustrating minutes repairing my chest strap. I might try using it again, but I'll have to squeeze a washcloth between the strap and my chest to try to prevent that scary heart-attack feeling. There's also a chance that the strap will pop off just as it did last time, and I won't have the tools to repair it while on the trail.

My pack is plenty snug without the chest strap; I was thinking that very thought just the other night: it felt as if I were toting around a child or a monkey.

Yes... a monkey on my back.