I am not a person whose ambitions have ever included walking long distances with a heavy load. I do love walking, but as I have always enjoyed riding a bicycle, the slow(er) ways of getting about have never appealed to me before. I used to think "why would you walk if you can ride?" Naturally, everyone I've told about this plan, are asking me "why on Earth..."
So why am I going to walk this time?
Well... a number of reasons.
Long-distance hiking trails didn't exist in the country before 2012. And even then, when they were marked down I saw no reason why I should walk them. At one point some years ago I started to establish some hiking traditions in my life. Since 2011 we've had an annual canoe trip and for a couple of years we had a bicycle tour in the summer. They have always been more about the company than the activity itself. But somehow it became a regular thing to pack your things, trying every time to be smarter than previously. And I guess it led to a certain level of geer-geek.
I also started researching the second long-distance trail, Peraküla-Ähijärve. Finally they had included some of the northwestern coastline in the hiking trails! For me, that region is home. I've spent my childhood by the sea and I feel incomplete when I live away from it. At some point I found myself looking at the maps more and more frequently and in my head the little gear-geek was discovering a whole new world.
I'd never done any backpacking (or should I say, I have to this date never done any backpacking) and if I wanted to even consider hiking this trail, it meant I had to get new gear. We have loads of camping stuff at home, which is all good bicycle touring and canoeing trips where weight isn't crucial. But for backpacking, it kind of is. I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to give away too much in comfort. I started looking at YouTube videos about through-hiking, the basics of backpacking gear and so on. I simply found it super exciting. I found a blog of a young woman who hiked this trail, alone. In winter. To my surprise I also found a YouTube channel which was made by an Estonian hiker. Back then she was hiking the very same trail, she was also a beginner at the time and she was sharing her journey with the world. The videos were (and still are) very inspiring and they gave me a lot of courage (not just to go out and do it myself, but also to vlog my hike).
In the spring of 2017 I decided I would hike this trail in 2018. This gave me a time frame I was comfortable with. I knew I had to learn a lot of new things and I would at least attempt to learn from others. Also to budget my new gear.
Due to some life events I'm also moving from the south (where I've lived for 9 years) back home to the north and this hike will sort of be like a farewell tour. Despite living in the region for almost a decade, I never took enough time to explore the nature more closely. I will walk 510 miles through my country and I will be home.