© 2014 Ken Klug
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
June 18, 2014 -- Day 3, Marlow to Reading, 17 miles
I’ve known for a long time that today would be a difficult day – 17 miles on my third walking day, before my body has been acclimated to long walks with a heavy pack. But when I woke up today with stiff knees and sore shoulders, I realized that the day was going to be more difficult than I expected.
The guidebook divides today’s walk into two different sections, Marlow to Henley-on-Thames (8½ miles) and Henley to Reading (9 miles). For psychological reasons, I rounded it down to 17 miles, but the guidebook’s mileage didn’t include the distances between the path and the B&Bs at both ends.
By the time I reached Hurley (2 miles from Marlow), I was hurting. My pack felt heavier than it ever had; I’m sure I was bent over like an old man. I decided I could push myself to Henley, and then take a bus or train to Reading. Of course, I might not even get to Henley if the footpath was blocked.
As I proceeded upriver, I began leaving urbanity and moving into more countryside. The scenery grew increasingly pleasant, but it didn’t help my legs or shoulders.
At the Hambleden Lock, I met Geoff and Anita, from York, who are staying at a local caravan (camper) site, and bicycled to the lock. We had a nice discussion, which gave my legs a rest, but did nothing for my shoulders.
Farther upriver, I passed several crew teams rowing their shells. Henley is hosting the Henley Regatta this weekend, and female crew teams from all over the world are practicing. Most of you know that females are usually attracted to me, but these strong, college-age women were not attracted to a bent-over old man struggling to place one foot in front of the other.
A little while later, I came upon two Labs, Max and Pi, who were intent on retrieving toys thrown into the river. They sniffed at my feet, but when I couldn’t reach down to pick up their toys and toss them in the river, they quickly lost interest. You know it’s a bad day when both women and dogs ignore you.
Nearing Henley, I passed by Rob, a U.S. Marine from Virginia. Or more properly, Rob passed by me – three times – as he ran back and forth along the towpath approaching Henley. Rob just completed a coast to coast bicycle trip across the U.S. He inspired me. Suddenly my legs ached less, and my pack weighed less, and I walked a little taller all the way to Reading.
Rob, if you are reading this, thank you very much – not only for all that you’ve done, but also for all that you are doing. You are a hero!!
© 2014 Ken Klug