Daily distance: 44.2km / 27.5mi
Weather: 18 degrees, cloud with prolonged sunny spells, 3 mph easterlies
Dove Step 3 bird list: 94 species
Best birds: Hoopoes, Red Kites, White Storks – pretty much the usual!
Cumulative Dove Step 3 distance: 276.6miles
Today could have been the day that broke me and halted this whole epic. It was a near perfect attempt at breaking my spirit.
Pretty much the whole day was on a roman road – or at least the path of – interspersed with re-routes around new roads and the odd settlement. I twice lost the route, only by a few hundred meters but it was enough to unnerve and disrupt. I am really careful when off-route/ lost to ensure I take the time to orinetate and either back-track or find a new way to re-join. Panic leads to rash decisions which are easily made when you’re upset.
Overall, I think the two route issues only cost me about 15 minutes. But it is truly a horrible feeling – however brief – to feel lost.
Today was always a long day – stringing together Villafranca de los Barros and Mérida so I started shifting at dawn.
Aside from keeping on top of navigation – the heat and foot-fall definitely took a toll on me. My pack is also at the heaviest it’ll be all trip whilst I move solo. Having seen Mérida on the horizon and about 9km out I was about to carry some more weight – mud – great big clods of it on both feet. I had about 3km of trudging with each footfall adding and depositing what felt like 10km of mud and pebbles from each foot. Demoralising.
Then, with literally just 4km to go I had to cross a stream, I spied some low-lying rocks by way of stepping stones and motioned for them. At this point the vegetation I was stood on gave way, both feet slipped into the water. This would have been fine – indeed the cold water felt nice on my battered feet – except that the water was heavily silted and full of sand and gravel.
This is pretty much the worst situation I can think of for a long distance walker; sand, gravel and wet feet. Inevitably I incurred an amount of damage completing the last few km.
All-in-all I cannot complain. I logged my daily mile target, have done my best to clean my trainers and socks and had a good feed.
After all, if it was easy – it wouldn’t be a challange!
It would be easy to get angry about getting off-route, heavy mud and grit in my shoes – but instead I’ve taken it as part of the challenge as a whole. Just a little more adversity to get over!
If we make or break fundraising target and if we continue to raise awareness for Operation Turtle Dove – then it’s worth it.
Tomorrow is a new and hopefully kinder day…