Today as I walked I thought about the word ‘surefooted’. I thought about it as I was descending a small, steep path in the woods that was covered with stones, some of them wet. I had to watch the ground, I had to be careful about where I placed each step, how my foot landed, making sure not to slip or stumble.
All the hiking experience in the world can’t always prevent you from taking a fall, but I do think experience counts for a lot. I’m not so nervous stepping on/over/around rocks anymore. When I first started hiking, before my first Camino, I was slower and shakier. I wasn’t sure where to place my feet, my steps were hesitant.
But sometime in these last years I’ve realized that I’ve become surefooted. I know where to step (most of the time!). But it’s my ease, too, my confidence and competence when I’m hiking. Inside, I can often be full of small worries and concerns, but when I start walking, the worries and concerns seem to quiet down.
Today’s hike required lots and lots of surefooted-ness; the path ran up and down through the woods, on often uneven and muddy ground. The trail was narrow, sometimes hugging the side of a steep slope. Parts were overgrown with thorny branches (wore my long pants- best decision of the day!), sections were covered with thick black slugs, and I nearly stepped on the absolute largest toad I’d ever seen (so maybe that’s not the best example of being surefooted…)
I began to feel tired today, the muscles in my legs started aching, my feet demanded a break. But this is being surefooted, too: knowing when to take a break, knowing that despite the fatigue I’ll be able to carry on.
Now it’s night, I’m alone in the gîte in Borce, I cooked a dinner of spaghetti and tomato sauce, I’m wrapped in blankets in my bunk bed. Inside, again, worries are starting to nag: tomorrow will be a day of steady rain. I have a difficult and long climb up to Somport. What if I’m tired, what if there is no place to stop for a break, what if my feet get soaked and I get blisters?
But then I remember that, when I walk- in the sun or wind or rain, through moorland or meseta or mountains, on pavement or grass or mud- I am surefooted.
So bring on the mountains and the rain, I’m ready.