600km Walking Pilgrimage through Spain

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on September 2 2008

From the moment I discovered an ancient pilgrimage path in Spain in June last year, the attraction of walking hundreds of kilometres towards an assured destination grew on me daily. My eagerness to go on a month-long journey on foot across the steep slopes, lush valleys and forests of the Pyrenees, and through countless small towns and villages, was part of a subconscious quest to find depth and meaning in my life. At the age of 33, I was approaching – prematurely, perhaps – what seemed to be a mid-life crisis.

Straits Times Life! Article,Denise Chng Lisan,Camino de Santiago,Camino Frances

Letter from Quebec: Preserving Heritage

Written by Denise Chng Lisan & published on November 8 2008

'TRAVEL is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living,' wrote Miriam Beard. Life in Quebec is now my teacher, pointing out my knowledge gaps and honing my ideas of living - be it language, culture, life-skills, or the environment.

Denise Chng Lisan

Gypsy Caravan part 3: Appalachian Trail

Posted by Denise CHNG Lisan On Sunday, October 12, 2008

Climbing part of the Appalachian Trail was never part of my plan on this trip. I didn't even know I was this close to it.

I had first heard of the Appalachian Trail when I came back from my Camino. A friend from my meditation group said she would like to do the Appalachian one day. From her, I learnt that the Appalachian mountain range starts from America, extends into Canada, and is a very rugged and raw trail.

A few months later, on my Gaspesie trip, I thought I was just visiting the Parc de la Gaspesie. Frankly I did not do any research on this trip. Maybe that's why every step is a surprise!

Richard and I drove into the Parc looking for a campsite. We could choose to stay near the mountains, or by the river. We decided to camp in the mountains. The next day, we climbed the Mont Jacques-Cartier, and our goal was to spot the endangered species of Caribou which we were told roam around freely in the park. We prepared for a day hike, and dressed rather casually. In fact, I thought since many tourists are on this road, it must be a breeze. I was so wrong.

What I thought was a 2-4 hour casual walk, became a steep and strenuous hike that took me about 5-6 hours to finish. There were significant steep elevations through mountainous terrains. I experienced warm sunny weather at the base, and found myself shivering in cold fog and hard winds at the top. The rocks were slippery and hard to grip. At the peak, we faced winds of 60km/h. It was so foggy we could not see past a few meters. The rain came and trapped us at the peak's viewing tower for more than an hour. How I missed my walking sticks, poncho and hiking shoes.

I came back to earth and realized that this trail to the peak of Mont Jacques Cartier was only a very short portion of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT). I met hikers who carried huge enormous backpacks that included tents and cooking utensils, in preparation for the possibility of no albergues.

The Camino that I did in Spain seems like a baby trail compared to this. I was way out of my league for the Appalachian. Next time, I tell myself, I will be better prepared. I bought a topographic map of the IAT trail in Valley of Matapedia, not too far from where I am living. I will have to start getting rid of the fat and start building my muscles back.

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1 Response to 'Gypsy Caravan part 3: Appalachian Trail'

  1. Anonymous Said,'> 13 October 2008 at 22:39

    Happy belated birthday.



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