The incredible lightness of trekking

Two comforts of home I’ll be leaving behind — cold coffee drinks and my Mini.

It’s been a whirlwind for the last weeks as I finish up projects and get everything ready for my summer walks on the Via Francigena and Via di Francesco. Sunday I preached at church in the morning and played a piece for an organ recital in the evening. Yesterday I painted a wall as I’d promised months ago, went to the bank for an international funds transfer and sat down for coffee with my partner in crime, Luke, who will be on Sherpa duty for my September walks. Last night I tucked away details for my September group walks and gathered my final items for my “kit” as the Brits call it.

The other day I had dragged my 35-liter backpack down from the over-closet storage and began the slow and deliberate process of packing. After thirteen-odd pilgrim treks I’m still surprised at how few items end up making the cut to go into the backpack.

When I leave this evening I’ll have about 12 pounds of items in my pack. In addition to two hiking shorts, two t-shirts, and a pair of rain pants the one luxury item item I’m including is a polo shirt for dress up occasions. Add a water bladder, toiletries, a sleep sack and a cell phone and that’s it. For two months.

I know from past experience that having just a few possessions with me forces me into a new mind space. I welcome the simplicity that comes from not driving, not going online, not going to Starbucks. I embrace the joy of not checking my cell phone for messages, not constantly watching social media, not seeing the latest news from Washington DC.

I don’t own that much, compared to some. Theresa and I have a couple of cars (my little Mini is almost 10 years old), a modest home, some simple furniture, and our clothes. So it feels even lighter to set them aside for a couple of months and just walk. I’m missing a lot by heading out, but what I’ll miss mostly is people, not things. Today I open myself to this adventure and what it offers my body, mind and spirit.

Map-Via-Francigena

This year’s adventure begins in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a walk around Lac Léman (Lake Geneva), past Montreux, St-Maurice, Orsieres and then on to Piacenza, Italy where I began my walk last year. It’s all part of a multi-year plan to walk the entire 1,700 km Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome.