My route is about as mapped-out as it can be. I've gotten all the supplies I'll be carrying. In my Moleskine, I've been writing up my route in detail as a fail-safe in case my cell phone dies. I've trained to the point where a decent five- or six-hour walk produces nothing but minor aches. My feet have already developed some calluses from all the recent walking. The staircase training will stand me in good stead when it comes time to tackle the Saejae portion of the trail. I haven't reached my goal weight of 115 kg (from about 126), but in mere a few days, like it or not, I'm going to reach that weight and rapidly sink under it.
Tonight, I'll be doing one last mega-walk along the creek: out to Gwacheon City and back. After that, I plan to rest my feet until Saturday morning, when I'll be up around 4AM and out the door by 5AM. That first walk ought to get me to the Paldang Bridge by about noon, and there are yeogwans on the south side of the river where I can stay for the night. The Friday before the walk is to be a fasting day, and so is the first day of the walk. In rereading my old blog entries from my other blog, I saw that I had gone without eating for several days before—and more than once. I don't recall it affecting me much; I'm like a camel that can survive for long periods on its fatty hump, and I don't suddenly lose energy just because I've skipped a single meal, the way some of my thinner friends do.
I may hit the building's staircase once or twice before Saturday, but then again, I may not. Rest could be more important than exercise. I feel as if I'm about to take a final exam, and I can hear Dr. Kim-Renaud, my old Korean-language prof, tautologically warning us not to bother with any last-minute cramming before the test: if you don't know it by now, you don't know it. By the same token, if I'm not ready for this walk, then I'm not ready.
Speaking of unreadiness, perhaps this is the time to confess certain fears.
My biggest fear, this time around, is getting hit by a car or truck. This is especially likely along the Saejae portion of the trail, where the bike path merges into the road more often than anywhere else. I also fear getting sick from drinking river water or from being in inclement weather, and I'm worried about getting infected with some bacterial nastiness that comes from a yeogwan pillow (something like this happened in 2008, when I stayed at a huge communal home in Portland, Oregon). I'm not too worried about falling-related injuries; I learned a huge lesson in 2008, when I fell and twisted a knee. That said, I'm cautious about fatigue levels, and once again, it's the Saejae portion of the trail that worries me the most: my path goes perpendicularly over a lot of contour lines during that part of the trail. The worst place to be, when hiking, is tired and yet still wanting to push ahead to stay on schedule. Fatigue and pride are a toxic mix. I don't fear going hungry, being far from civilization, or running out of water. I do worry about something disastrous happening to my eye contacts, and I also fear losing my cell phone or having it die on me. In theory, I can continue my walk without the phone, but my navigational ability will be crippled, and I may end up wasting time taking the wrong fork in the trail, belatedly realizing my mistake, and then backtracking. I worry about hip and back pain creeping up on me—mild at first, but unbearable by the end.
There are other worries, anxieties, and fears, less well defined. On a long trip like this, anything can happen. I hope that that "anything" will be mostly good. I hope I'll have the chance to meet some interesting people. I hope the scenery that I've seen in all those biking videos will be as amazing in real life as it has been on the screen. I hope I do shed a few pounds and come back without too much loose skin. I hope this walk offers me some new perspective on life.
Only a few days to go, and there isn't much more to say regarding this preparatory phase. I'll still be logging Walk Thoughts along the trail, but as the Zen Dude Fitness guys say, I'll be doing the thing and no longer just planning the thing.