Angie Mitchell and her husband Ken will soon be leaving Australia for Italy, to walk with us on the Assisi tour.
We’ll be meeting up in Florence, then taking a private bus to the Franciscan monastery at della Verna – where St. Francis experienced his stigmata – then walking 182kms through to Assisi. It promises to be a wonderful walk, although physically challenging at times.
Angie and Ken came with us on the Camino Portuguese tour this time last year – and in the intervening time Jen and I have got to know them as very special friends.
They’ve both been training for the tour – and Angie, being a writer, has put some thoughts down which I’m now posting as a guest blog.
AM I READY?
As we drove 5 km up the road yesterday morning at 5:45 for our regular walk up the little mountain at the Sunshine Coast called Mt Coolum, ‘Am I Ready’ kept playing in my head?
Thankfully I was the passenger looking at this sizeable mountain and pondering on my readiness for the Via Di Francesco Tour starting on 27 April in Florence.
Let me put it out there now, I am not anywhere near being a mountain climber, I don’t even like going up big hills and my goal in life was to go nowhere near any walk that looked like a hefty climb!
I have always been very happy walking on reasonably flattish ground, even brashly boasting on my daily walks to any willing listener.
It was only last year that Ken and I nosedived into long distance walking on the Camino Portuguese and despite sore feet and blisters I loved everything about the experience. It is funny isn’t it how easy it is to forgot any tough up hill trekking?
But oh my goodness what I have done agreeing to go on this walk asks the fearful anxious side of my brain? Really Angie what were you thinking?
Because you see, the looming walk in the Umbrian part of Italy has lots of steep inclines and declines and a good level of fitness is needed for pilgrims, says my friend Bill!
It was when I saw a table detailing the distance and height for each day that I swiftly upped my fitness regime.
I recalled that Bill talked about his brother Bob doing 100 squats a day as part of his preparation for his recent Camino Frances, so I increased my number of squats to 70 a day. That would surely strengthen my muscles in my thighs and get me up those high inclines of over 800m!
And since I don’t live near Mt Misery, the name says it all doesn’t it, I decided that Mt Coolum would have to be conquered. Or better still my extreme reluctance to go up big hills would have to be overcome.
It was definitely time to change my irrational thinking. There was no way around it. I told Ken we really need to include climbing up this mountain in the fitness plan. Ken’s reply “Aren’t our long distance walks enough” fell on deaf ears!
My ever-patient good husband humours me by coming with me a few times a week. The great thing is that I have increased my fitness level and better still; I have overcome the fear I initially experienced at a scary section of uneven rocks.
Yes, I have to confess I went down on my hands and knees, just for a second! Now I nearly jog at this point!! Sorry, I got carried away; there is definitely no jogging!
I just have to be ready says my rational brain! D-day is coming at a fast pace. Everything else is organised; the backpack, the euros, the plane tickets and the hotels.
I am ready to be reunited with my Camino buddies to have lots of chats about weird and wacky things, ready to walk on the paths that St Francis strode, and better still ready to enjoy the food and wine.
And seriously, I will only know how ready I am when walking those steep inclines/declines, and slogging along the kilometres everyday.
Hang on, maybe it is time to readjust the plan and walk up and down Mt Coolum every morning!