I promised myself, that I would wait this year. I made a pact with myself, that I wouldn’t even start thinking about thinking about this year’s trail, until I had finished my critical business project and made good on my commitment to my partners by completing our current round of financing, before heading off to the hills. I was determined to avoid the mistake, made last year in April, of embarking on a long walk, with important unfinished business still smouldering on my desk. Although I never mentioned it whilst writing last year (why would I? It didn’t feel germane and I was worried sick), I carried that unfinished business like a deadweight in my backpack for 630 km across Ireland. It was with me every day, like a bad curry in the pit of my stomach, twitching my gut, never more than a thought away from the surface or more often than not, very present and nagging. I left for my walk, hoping that the problem, which had been dragging itself out over months, would, after all, resolve itself, whilst I was away. I hoped that the interminable waiting for a partner / investor to perform, would end with a phone call, informing me that all was well and that the delays, the procrastinations, the twists and turns, that had been driving us all mad with frustration, would evaporate like so much morning dew in the spring sun, before I had tucked 100km under my belt.
It didn’t, of course. My instincts, which had been screaming at me for months, that something was sorely amiss, were spot on and I found myself to have been in denial, substituting hope for practical appraisal, and trusting the words of a man, I thought was a friend, rather than translating the pattern of his actions into their inexorable narrative. It turned out, that I had been defrauded, lied to and fed a steady diet of handcrafted bullshit on an epic scale for the best part of a year and it all ended up with my filing criminal charges against the fraudster, but that is a different story and probably sub judice at the moment. Be all that as it may, it is alright to lose occasionally, as long as you don’t lose the lesson as well and my lesson (one of the many from that episode) was: Don’t go on an expedition, with important, unfinished business on your desk. Ever.
I am happy to report a clean desk (or as unfettered as it ever gets), and an undeniable feeling of elan, after a gruelling and exciting year, which has more than fulfilled all my hopes and expectations of it. And now, finally, I get to go for a walk again. I am just starting to allow myself the luxury of believing that in exactly one week, I will, God willing, be settling down for a night in Munich, backpack stowed and ready to board the train to Florence and from there to head out to Sant’Ellero and the start of the 530km St. Francis Trail. I will be without Stella this time, which saddens me and I have no plans currently to have anybody join me for any sections of the walk, so it will be just me, my stick and 12 kgs of kit on my back for the 24 days that I have given myself to complete the route.
My hope is that the many friends, who were kind enough to follow me last time, will join me in spirit again, as I walk the along the Appenine mountain ways to Assisi and then on to Rome. I hope I was vocal enough in my thanks for all the comments and words of encouragement that you shared with me – I loved the feedback and signs of friendship, that meant I was never alone for a moment on the trail.
It starts now with a week of preparation, selecting kit, packing, checking equipment, downloading maps and route planning. Thank you for joining me.