2016 News

I’m back!

2016 was physically and mentally challenging but not altogether in an active way unfortunately.

In September 2015 when I arrived back home in London after finishing the PCT, I was immediately restless and needed to walk. I had limited time so I decided to walk the Camino Frances for a second time. The mistake was thinking my ankle injury from 4 months earlier on the PCT was all healed up… it turned out that it wasn’t and the pain was excruciating on the many hard surfaces of the Camino. Stubbornness and determination got me to Santiago but I knew something was really wrong with my left foot.

A trip to the doctor and an MRI confirmed I had torn my ATFL and CFL ligaments as well as cartilage and joint damage. It wasn’t in a good state and probably wasn’t the best idea to walk a further 2,500 miles after that initial roll, (the one with the loud popping sound that ended up with me on the ground and holes in the knees of my pants and the immediate feeling of sickness followed by fear and then tears through clenched teeth).

I was told it needed to be operated on immediately because each continued step was only doing more damage, so off I went for a Brostrom Ligament reconstruction. The surgeon cut through my ankle bone, reattached some ligaments, stuck some metal in and sewed it up, leaving me with three sets of stitches and holes around the ankle. My hopes of becoming a foot model (for wide brick-like feet with bunions) were now forever dashed!

I’d never been in a plaster cast before or on crutches and I hope never to be again. The cast was from my toes to my knee and the crutches were just a pain in the a***! Oh, and the pain felt exactly like someone had sawed open my ankle with a chainsaw. (I decided to omit the gory stitches and scarring photos!)

I’ll skip the part about feeling sorry for myself, frustrated or even being a terrible patient and just say that I wasn’t allowed to walk for 5 months after the operation and there were some moments during that time when I thought that I would never be able to walk again… like really walk, like PCT walk.

Along came September, my 5 months was up and I was desperate to walk. I also had a little project which needed me to be in Portugal so off I went with my pack and walking gear. I spent 3 months seeking out the best Pastel de Nata, exploring the incredibly beautiful country, and meeting some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I fell in love with Portugal all over again and I also managed to walk just over 1,200km. The human body is a miraculous machine. I’ll be writing more about some of the walks I did over there in future posts. Here’s a taster:

Cairns in Peneda Geres N.P.

Cairns in Peneda Geres N.P.

Crocus flower in Peneda Geres N.P.

Crocus flower in Peneda Geres N.P.

Awesome Hiking buddies in Peneda-Geres N.P.

Gorgeous Portuguese Atlantic Coast

Gorgeous Portuguese Atlantic Coast

Atlantic sunset

Atlantic sunset

I was also incredibly humbled to be interviewed by the awesome Sarah Williams – founder of the inspiring and motivating Tough Girl Podcast. Most of you will know that I’m scared of my own shadow so it was nice to be considered tough 😉  If you want to listen to me ramble on about walking, click here.

So that was my 2016. Since my first Camino in May 2013, I’ve now walked over 10,700km (6,687mi) and hopefully I can continue to walk thousands more. I’m back and I’ve got so much planned for 2017, so stay tuned!

One of the best views in the world! Even better with a glass of Espumante!

Viana do Castelo… One of the best views in the world! Even better with a glass of Espumante!

 

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40 responses to “2016 News

  1. Hi Kat,
    Great to hear of your adventures, im glad you ankle has mended and sounds like the surgery was very successful and no permanent damage. You are AMAZING!
    I agree Portugal is a beautiful country, spent some months there last year also an walked Porto to Santiago also.
    I thought of you many times since you finished the PCT, wondering what you were up to, so its lovely to hear from you again.
    Im off to the Camino Frances again on 7 feb actually, intend to go Burgos to Santiago.
    Take care
    Aidan

    Sent from Samsung tablet

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  2. Kat it’s super hearing from you!!!Hopefully soon I will Skype you or whatever and just catch up a little
    Im glad that your feet are trotting and that your hand is writing again!!

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  3. Hi, Kat! It’s good to hear from you. It’s good that you have choosed Portugal to recover from your surgery. Thank you for your words about Portugal. As Portuguese, I’m very happy. I’ll be waiting for more news! The “Pastel de Nata” is the best cake in the world !!!! I was really touched by your words! Bom caminho!

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    • Paulo, in the three months I spent in Portugal I had so many terrific experiences with the locals and made some wonderful friends. There’s a nostalgia about Portugal, people are kind and they talk to strangers (like me!) … It’s a very beautiful country and the food is delicious. In my search for the best Pastel de Nata, I ate more than 50! And I have to say, the best really is from Pasteis de Belem! I’m coming back in the spring and I can’t wait 🙂

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      • Yes… Pastel de Belém is unique (specially when they are still hot !) 😉 in Oporto they say only “Nata” 🙂 All the best… stay strong and healthy! Take care…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Good thing you can walk again! Ultreia, peregrina!

    Bob “Jakke” Abspoel

    2017-01-31 19:30 GMT+02:00 followingthearrows :

    > followingthearrows posted: “I’m back! 2016 was physically and mentally > challenging but not altogether in an active way unfortunately. In September > 2015 when I arrived back home in London after finishing the PCT, I was > immediately restless and needed to walk. I had limited time so ” >

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  5. Awesome to have you back. You inspire all of us to have no doubt or fear but to keep going. You also remind us that really we should address any injury early. I did an a chillies annoyance in Japan that is still problematic two years later. When I go back to Shikoku next month I will avoid overuse risks and hope I will be fine with some support on achillies and ankle. Great to read your stories and now you are drawing me to Portugal. Perhaps in 2018 I will see you at BOOM FEST near Lisboa at the end of July. Between now and then there are a few thousand kms to enjoy I hope. May Peace Prevail On Earth.
    Dara.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re going back? I’m envious!! I wear an Aircast ankle brace now and it’s nice and comfy which is handy! It’s a deal, if we can both walk a few thousand km’s then lets meet up at Boom Fest! 😉
      Great to hear from you Dara, take care x

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  6. So glad to hear that you are back on the path again! I have been missing your adventures.

    I am planning one of my own – the Via Francigena from Great Saint Bernard Pass in August 2018. I can’t help but be excited already!

    Happy walking and take care – Mel

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  7. Some people say injuries are sent to change our direction in life. No doubt this is endorsed by people who sit all day and with TV. You encouraged me to walk the Portuguese Camino which I completed last year. So different to Frances and Le Puy. However I feel in love with this country and its people. Coimbra and Porto what sensational towns.
    My wife is a non walker, however we are playing tourists in June and touring Portugal by rail.
    Later this year I’m walking from Santander. Your posts are much welcome written in a style that I’m sure we are friends. Sending blessings for that much talked about foot. Gregory

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    • For quite a small country, Portugal really has a lot to see! My husband is a non walker too but he came to visit a few times last year and we got to explore the Douro upriver from Porto (beautiful!), Amarante, Sintra & Cascais and Evora further south… I’m sure you and your wife will have a fantastic time! I hope to walk the Norte one day, Buen Camino!

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  8. Wow, an inspirational post. I had just been wondering what had happened to you as I remembered your ankle problem. So challenging to be dealing with injuries and to not walk for so long when it’s obviously so important to you. I am planning to walk in Portugal this year and haven’t been there before. Can’t decide on the coastal Camino or other Portuguese Camino. Best wishes for your continued healing. Jennifer.

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    • Hi Jennifer,
      I re-walked the central camino last year (Lisbon-Santiago) as well as the coastal camino from Porto-Santiago. The coastal is beautiful and if you’re not sure, I’d at least recommend walking the coastal the first day from Porto along the Douro river to the Atlantic and up to Vila do Conde. There’s two new albergues along the coast between Porto and Vila do Conde at Labruge and Vila Cha so you don’t have to go all the way… then at least you have one full day of walking literally beside the sea. From Vila do Conde you could head inland to Sao Pedro de Rates which is back on the central camino and continue along the central… or stick to the coast! Email me if you need any advice & Buen Camino! x

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  9. I’ve come back from so many injuries too numerous to list here. In my 62 years I’ve been in the hospital 26 times. However I’ve also walked over 110,000 miles. During my months of crutches I would have blisters under in my armpits! Lots of metal pieces throughout my body. It’s good to hear you are back and striding and feeding your walking obsession. – Bob Scheidt. Ps I also love walking in Portugal

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  10. Katrina. You are the strongest woman I know. But I am also proud of you for learning the lessen of listening to your body and knowing that it is time to rest. (It must have driven you absolutely bonkers 🙂 ) Glad to hear from the old podcast that you might do an Aussie walk one of these days… Just remember you are amazing xo

    Liked by 1 person

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