It’s been twelve months since I was last on Mt. Misery.
Just to explain – Mt. Misery is an aptly named mountain that rises sharply at the back of Mudgee, which is where I live. From my door it’s 4kms to the base of Mt. Misery – then it’s 4kms to the summit. So round trip, it’s 16kms.
The elevation from door to summit is about 650ms. And there are some sections which are damn steep. So it’s a great training hike for the Camino.
Last year, in preparation for the Camino Frances, in the 6 wks prior to departure I did Mt. Misery about 3 times a week. It stood me in good stead when I had to climb the Pyrenees.
Today was my first day back there since those training days twelve months ago. It was good to be back. And a lot has changed in those twelve months.
Firstly, I’m now wearing a complicated and very impressive looking knee brace, because I shot my knee to pieces on the Camino last year. The orthopaedic surgeon, after looking at my MRI, said it was a “miracle” I walked the Camino on that knee.
I’m also now using walking poles.
Last year I resolutely refused to use walking poles, until my knee gave out – and then I finally succumbed. I had to. I wouldn’t have finished my Camino if I hadn’t used those poles.
Today I climbed Mt. Misery and it seemed so much easier than last year. Because of the poles? Yes, I think they certainly helped.
But twelve months on, I’m a different person. I’m not necessarily fitter than I was a year ago. But my head is different. I think differently.
Last year I felt I had to push myself up that mountain, I had to do it fast and I had to keep my heart rate in it’s 75%-80% zone, to get my aerobic fitness up.
This year I don’t give a damn.
I now see walking as fun, not a goal which needs to be achieved.
I walked with my wife, Jennifer this morning.
That’s a first.
Usually we don’t train together. She heads off in one direction, I head off in the other. She likes to go a different way every day – I like to go the same way every day, so that I can judge how I’m feeling by certain milestones.
And I like that I don’t have to think about where I’m going. I just walk on automatic pilot, so that my mind can wander into other more interesting areas –
But it was fun walking with Jennifer this morning. And when we came to the really step sections. I surged on ahead and she went up them at her own pace.
What training up Mt. Misery gives you is confidence. It’s a gnarly climb, there’s no doubt, but it gives you confidence during the Camino. You know you can handle whatever The Way throws at you.
Last year I found Mt. Misery miserable. This year, I’m finding it a joy.
That’s what’s changed in twelve months…