After around eight months of planning and preparation, I’m about to set off on my solo walk from Lunigiana to Rome, leaving from my home in Malgrate, a distance of around 500 kilometres. I have never walked that far before, and now that I’m about to set off, I confess to feeling a tad apprehensive. All being well, it should take me about three weeks. Or, if all is not well, I might split the walk into two sections and do the second bit later in the year, or just take the train!
I’ve attempted to prepare well. I’ve walked hundreds of kilometres, most recently carrying my state-of-the art woman’s backpack, which has so many adjustments to ensure it is comfortable, I have to run through a mental checklist every time I put it on. I’ve become an expert on ultralight gear and every item in my pack has been researched, evaluated and weighed. My incredibly comfortable Italian walking boots didn’t need breaking in and have been well tested by the British winter mud, and on least one occasion, snow. I know more about blister prevention than I want to. Should I chose to stay in pilgrim accommodation, I have a sleeping bag that compresses down to the size of a coconut (with the husk), together with a silk sheet – not for the luxury, but because silk is exceptionally lightweight.
While I would find it impossible to tell you what is hot in the world of fashion at the moment, I can confidently discuss the latest trends in hiking skirts. Marino wool has become my fabric of choice for socks and t-shirts, while fleeces and underwear are all all hi-tech, fast-drying fabrics. The exception to the hi-tech fabric collection is my towel. I just somehow cannot get my head around a towel that looks and feels like a weird piece of chamois leather. Instead I have settled for a cotton Turkish hammam towel, the type of towel traditionally used in the Turkish bath houses. Weight and space-wise, it is equivalent to, or even less than, a tech towel, although it does take slightly longer to dry. It also doubles as a handy sarong.
Packing cubes are indispensable to the well-organised backpack and I even have a dual-purpose dry bag with a built-in ‘washboard’, which means I don’t have to battle with small hand basins to do my laundry, which is now guaranteed to be exceptionally clean. And because hats make my head too hot, I have a fabulous silver hiking umbrella with a sun protection factor of 50. However, with the long-term weather forecast being for showers for most of my first week of walking, the umbrella is more likely to be used in the traditional British manner.
I will be posting here from time to time, so do pop back if your are interested in my adventures.