A Hiking Big Year anytime soon?: Part 1

That’s me, trudging across one of the high fells in the Lakes District, as part of the 300-km Coast to Coast just completed in England. We took 16 days, we met one man doing it in 11, most seemed to hike from the Irish Sea to the North Sea in 12 to 17 days. This is my third fifteen-day-plus “through” hike. What did I learn about myself?
Do I appear to be enjoying myself? The two-and-a-half weeks were a kaleidoscope of British scenery, from cowshit farm fields to high tarns to rock scrambles to bleak moors to quaint villages. We were fortunate to have clement weather, although I had to admit that the isolated gloomy/rainy/misty days were thrilling, evoking something uniquely British. I felt a sense of journeying, gradually chewing up the miles across a country, spying what lay ahead while glancing over a shoulder at our conquered territory. One distinct pleasure was the progression of B&Bs/pubs/hostels, with their fulsome breakfasts, accompanied by nightly “reward” dinners, mostly in pubs, nearly always with wine or beer. The company was avuncular and easygoing. The hike was robust – on average we walked just over 20 kms a day, 5 to 10 hours depending on the terrain – and demanding at a very basic level, namely that of keeping leg and foot in shape. But only three of the days really taxed me, so by one reckoning the CtC was not a full challenge – how did that affect my experience?
Two days after scrubbing my boots clean, the ultimate conclusion to a hike, I’m plagued by an unreasonable disquiet. I cannot fault the journey, but here’s the rub: I’ve always yearned, or thought I was yearning, for the big challenges, what I’ve been labelling as a future Tough Hikes Big Year. We’re talking intense physical exertion, navigational intricacies, an element of riskiness verging on danger. Yet the Coast to Coast was quite manageable, thank you very much, and I loved it. Am I changing in what excites me about hiking?

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