The weight of the Devil

I stand on the scales with the Devil on my pack. After some quick math deducting my Devil-less body weight I determine that it weighs 12.5 kilos.

12.5 kilos!

If this were a normal holiday, I would be proud of how light I had packed for once. I like having choice of clothes to wear and will happily pack up to the airline checked luggage allowance if I can fit it into my normal travelling backpack that has wheels and has mostly been dragged behind me and only a handful of times carried on my back. This time 12.5 kilos is too heavy. Not by airline standards but because the Devil has no wheels and will be carried on my back for 2,000 kilometres.

Other pilgrims have suggested that it is best to carry no more than 10% of your body weight. That would be 6 kilos.  But with a tent and sleeping bag to carry as emergency accommodation this seems impossible for me. 10 kilos seems more realistic for smeone camping and obviously, I am way over that extended limit.

I pull everything out of the bag and start packing again asking myself if it is essential that I take each item with me. I cull the self-inflating light three quarter sleeping mat, self-inflating pillow and sleeping bag liner. These would be useful if I can't find accommodation and am forced to camp out but not essential. I can use clothes as a pillow and a liner under my bag.


I pack everything back into the bag and stand on the scales once more. 11.5 kilos. Lighter but not light enough.


I pull everything out and repeat the process. I even weigh items on the kitchen scales so I know exactly how much each item weighs.


I'd love to get rid of my one man hiking tent. Weighing in at 1.7 kilos that would instantly solve my weight issue but I know that in parts of France it may be difficult to find accommodation and the idea of sleeping beneath the stars as romantic as it sounds does not appeal to me as a solo female traveller in a foreign country. 

I could leave out the synthetic fill jacket. It weighs 370 grams and I have other layers for warmth except sometimes they are not enough.  After a long hike, I am often chilled to my core even in mild weather. I can take it and potentially not use it and maybe give it away or I can leave it behind and find that I really need it which could mean a few days of being cold until I can find somewhere I can buy another layer.


The iPad mini and keyboard case could be considered a luxury by some but to me they are essential. The iPad contains my guide book and maps and enables me to write as I go and I won't give up my writing.


The camera.  Also non-negotiable.  I cannot not take photos wherever I go even when I walk around Melbourne. I have already compromised and left the DSLR at home. The Canon G11 comes with me.

The extra pants and a cardigan along with a few cosmetics so I can feel and look like a non-hiker at the end of the day. They only weigh 500 grams. Only. 500 grams is a lot and they are a luxury I could survive without but I refuse to let them go just now.

A journal comes with me wherever I go. Morning pages. Small stones. Poems, thoughts, ideas that just need to be written down quickly. I weigh my journal on the kitchen scales. It felt so very light in my hands but actually weighs 300 grams. My alternative journal is 80 grams lighter. It finds it way into my backpack instead. It's not much but if I can save 80 grams on 10 items then that's almost a kilo less weight and brings me so much closer to my 10 kilo goal.


Toiletries.  Everything is small. Shower gel. Toothpaste. Shampoo. Conditioner. Facial cleanser. Moisturiser.  Okay the scrub could go but its not even 30 grams. I quickly forget my 10 x 80 grams weight reduction goal. Instead, I ditch the two small travel containers filled with my favourite individual shampoo and conditioner and replace them, reluctantly, with a two-in-one.


I stand back on the scales with the Devil. 11.4 kilos. This round of elimination only reduced the Devil by 100 grams.

11.4 kilos.


It doesn't sound like a lot but on my back it feels like a lot.

As I lay in bed last night, waiting for sleep to take me quietly into the dark silence, the issue of weight weighed on my mind. The original pilgrims did not take much with them. They wore a stiff cloak and a wide-brimmed hat. They carried a staff and small purse. They received lodging and food at monasteries along the way. 


So why do I feel the need to take so much with me? 


Fear and doubt.


I am scared of being uncomfortable and of not having enough. And I am not trusting that what I need will find its way to me when I need it.  So I am holding onto all of these things and taking them with me when ultimately it is their weight that will be the real cause of my discomfort. 


Knowing this, can I let more things go?


Not yet. 2,000 kilometres might change all of that.