Der Rabenweg (The Raven Path)

My lapse in posting here and responding to comments has been the side effect of my focus on walking. With everything else I’ve got going on right now, a ten mile walk can eat up all of my free time; and I’ve been averaging six to ten miles per day lately. Although my shoulder seems to have not fully recovered from the surgery last year (strapping on just a 20 lb. backpack and going for ten miles did things to my shoulder that it shouldn’t have), my knees (which have seen four surgeries over the years) are holding up marvelously. I’m enjoying the walking – it is much preferable to sitting (another reason why updating my blog has not been my higher priority). I am on track for a planned pilgrimage next year, one that will involve a nod of respect to my father’s completion of the Vierdaagse marching event in Nijmegen, Holland, where he took part in four days of walking 40 kilometers / 25 miles. Rather than going to Holland, however, I will be going through northern Germany. This is a topic that I plan to write more about at another time, though.

I just finished deleting everything I’d written below this point. It started so innocently, I wrote about things I’d been hearing and reading in the news, before it dawned on me that my thoughts were turning negative and that I preferred to not allow this to happen. Thus I will change the title of this post (it was originally titled, ‘Nothing in particular’) and instead write a bit more about the pilgrimage I am planning after all :-)

The idea started a few years ago, as I talked to a friend about my desire to walk the Way of St. James pilgrimage. My friend laughed for a moment, shaking his head – when I asked him if he thought I was joking about doing this, he clarified and said he was only surprised to hear me express interest in walking a path that so many others had already walked. He was right – this was not my usual approach – and so I gave the matter some thought. A pilgrimage was something I really wanted to do; and I could care less whether or not the route was a traditional Christian route or not, as I think it’s the sacrifice of self and not the name or location that makes a pilgrimage special. I started asking myself where I would want to go, or how I would design my own pilgrimage. Eventually, everything coalesced into something that I sort of spontaneously started referring to as the Raven Path.

My goal is a town called Schleswig, in northern Germany, sitting right across the Schlei River from a Norse settlement known in English as Hedeby (in German, it is called Haithabu). Although I have been familiar with Odin in my life for quite some time, I plan this pilgrimage (along with everything involved in making it happen) to be a dedication to Odin. This is part of the reason why I am including an element from my own father’s past (the Nijmegen march) in this pilgrimage, as a means of honoring the All-Father through my own father (and you can believe me when I say that this will involve some sacrifice on my part). This will also be a testament to my determination to break free of various fetters my life has seen me caught in, symbolized by doing all of this with a body that is not as young as it used to be, that has been injured and repaired repeatedly. I plan to camp, rather than stay in a hostel – this will add to my pack weight, as well as giving me something to do when the day’s walk is completed. I had planned first to do this last year; but an injured shoulder that needed surgery got in the way of it, as did a doctor keeping me sidelined from any vigorous walking for two months due to a still-unexplained bruise on my calf that won’t go away. This year I will use to improve my overall conditioning, as well as do some test walks to give me a few ideas about walk-rest-eating strategies to further refine before next summer. When it comes to walking / backpacking, this won’t be my first rodeo … but it will be the first time I’ve undertaken something this intense and extensive. With luck, it won’t be the last time – I hope to take this pilgrimage more than once in my life.

As time progresses, I will fill in more details and, when the time comes, I hope to be able to post some good pictures :-)

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