‘Bucket List’ or Serendipity?
“Once upon a time” I thought that one really should do a “bucket list,” or set out to check off the places listed in “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” or some other similar book with a catchy title. I’m not saying that these concepts are bad, just that, in my experience, they don’t allow for real life! At least not ours, we like to be more flexible.
Truthfully, when Ralph and I started the John Muir Trail in 1989 (the year we were married), we hadn’t planned to do more than backpack from Kearsarge Pass (near Lone Pine, CA) to Mt. Whitney. In fact, it was several years (meanwhile backpacking in other parts of the Sierra Nevada) before we decided to do another section of the JMT. Because our time was limited for each backpacking trip, we actually hiked the JMT in sections—returning four times to do it all.
But ‘what then?’ What then, because I had just officially retired, but could keep teaching as a job-share, was that we were able to take off for longer periods—we came down into Yosemite Valley at the end of trip #4, went home, and repacked, and then flew to Spain and start the Camino Frances—the best known of the Spanish Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trails.
A Reality Check
Ralph (83) and I (78) are at a point in our lives where we can facing the fact that we may not be able to hike ‘forever.’ We have no way of knowing if we will even be able to hike another few years—things happen!
We know that we are not as strong as we once were and can’t hike as fast or as far as we once could. Also, increasingly, we see friends developing conditions or illnesses that limit their mobility. This is just part of the aging process. So, we are approaching travel, especially that will include hiking, more carefully. We are being more selective about destinations.
Our plans include
One thing seems certain, we will continue to explore routes of the Camino de Santiago. We are part of the pilgrim community here, and find the Camino trails of Europe compelling. Each route is different; we enjoy experiencing the cultures, the places the trails take us, and meeting new people. We have about 140 miles more to go on the Vezelay, French route to reach Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees so returning there is on the horizon.
The ‘biggie’ coming up even sooner, however, is a cruise to Antarctica—the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctica peninsula. This year we are celebrating our 30th anniversary and this is one way that we are making it memorable.