Parts of Offa’s Dyke are going to be amazing – breath taking scenery, stimulating conversion with Alex (@winkysmileyface), chats with locals and fellow hikers, or just watching nature go about its business around us.
However, I am under no illusion that other parts are going to be truly horrid – strong winds, driving rain, exhaustion, aching limbs and monotonous views. At this point a hike becomes a “trudge” – every ache and pain is magnified tenfold in your mind – you just want it to end.
So how can you focus your mind whilst “trudging”?
This “trudging” happened on the training walk in the Black Mountains a few weeks ago. We (I was with @justinfleming) were walking along a ridge that seemed to go on forever, I ached from the previous day’s walk, my boots were rubbing, and there was a strong wind with annoyingly light rain. By the end of the walk (don’t tell anyone but we skipped the final peak – “to get home on time”).
I had to repeat “left-right left-right” in my head over and over again just to take my mind off the rubbing on my right hip from the backpack the pain of which seemed hammer into my mind at every step. And that was just the final walk of a two day training trip!
So, my plan to keep my mind focused, to distract myself for the aches and pains, and to pass the time during these bouts of “trudging” is….. audiobooks!
I have always been a big fan of audiobooks – a few years ago I drove from the UK to Morocco in a Land Rover. The longest day was 700 miles through Europe, and the only thing that could keep me focus, stimulated and that passed the time quickly were audiobooks.
The great thing about them is that, as spoken word, they can keep your mind active and focused, whilst not becoming a distraction from the world around you (you can hear other people speaking to you for a start).
As soon as I got back from the Black Mountains I bought a SanDisk Sansa Clip+ 8GM Mp3 player – cheaper and better than an iPod Shuffle, and as an added bonus also has a radio!
And here are the audiobooks (all available from Audible) that I have loaded it up with:
- The Shadow of the Torturer: The Book of the New Sun, Book 1 by Gene Wolfe (12 hours 9 minutes)
- The Claw of the Conciliator: The Book of the New Sun, Book 2 by Gene Wolfe (11 hours 27 minutes)
- Ringworld by Larry Niven (11 hours 37 minutes)
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (a whopping 32.5 hours – a last resort!)
That should keep my mind going for a few “trudges”!