A dry run … well, really a wet walk

A bit more than a year ago, a friend of mine asked, “What’s the longest you’ve walked, to prepare for this trek?”  At the time my longest walk was just under 10 miles, and the day after hiking it, I felt every step in my aching muscles.  Some 1600 miles and 15 months later, I can proudly say that I’ve done several day hikes of more than 20 miles, and on two separate occasions I completed multi-day hikes of more than 15 miles each day.  Feeling pretty good about endurance.  But that still proves nothing regarding the stamina I’ll need for The Long Walk.  So, starting on this Saturday (Boxing Day) I’ll try to do a 100-mile hike in one week, averaging about 15 miles per day.  I’ve chosen the C&O Canal Towpath as the test grounds … not exactly the Bataan Death March, but a good place to uncover my weaknesses, and to test some of my gadgets (more about those in a subsequent post).


The bod, on the other hand, well, that’s been an interesting development.  My leg muscles and joints are doing great.  Like case-hardened steel pistons, my thighs and calves are honed, toned and tempered … ready to conquer leagues and leagues of legwork.  The feet … well, they won’t be winning any beauty contests.  Details notwithstanding, let’s just say between the bruised toenails, calloused heels and tired metatarsals, the old dogs look more like a Jackson Pollack work than part of the human anatomy.  And then there’s the upper body … while the lungs are holding out well, walking doesn’t really do much for the upper body, so try imagining a pear shaped pillow sitting on top of those steel pistons and you’ll get the picture.  Seven days of walking might help with some of that.

We’ll test our fundamental concept of operations: Alanna will drop me off every morning and pick me up in the late afternoon at a predetermined rendezvous point.  I have no idea what she’ll do during the roughly 6 hours that I’ll be walking but I’ve noticed she’s been surfing the web a lot lately and bookmarking all yarn stores within a 30 mile radius of the towpath.  God help me!

Now, I’m guessing your wondering about the title of this post.  Well, by all rights, the walk I’m taking is – by any definition – a dry run.  But I’m not running, so maybe I should just call it a dry walk.  However, my good friends at the National Weather Service have assured me that a strong pattern will deliver record-breaking heat and precipitable water (that’s their way of saying rain) FOR THE WHOLE WEEK!  So, it makes complete sense to call this not a dry run, but a wet walk!

Wish me luck… I’ll keep you posted.


5 thoughts on “A dry run … well, really a wet walk

  1. Rick,

    I know your route well. I retired from NOAA (Climate Program Office, downstairs from you) in 2011 and rode my bike from Cape Henlopen to Waldport, OR (through Corvallis). It took me three months. I blogged about it each day on http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/8087. As you’ve probably figured out, February is a good time to start. It gets dicey on the western passes after late September (google the Mormon handcart parties and Martin’s Cove).

    But as you say, it’s fun, and magic. We should have a beer before you go. Drop me a note if you’d like.

    Dave Goodrich


  2. Good luck, Rick! Looks like you’ll be tested in many ways in the days ahead – hang tough and enjoy the inner peace.


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