It’s been a near-relentless search for the near-perfect (or viable) solution to my gear-carrying dilemma on my upcoming trek along the Camino to Santiago. Some of you may have watched my video or read my story & mission on Indiegogo, of needing to find a two- or four-legged creature to haul my stuff on the path. With me. Alongside, behind or in front of me.
Many good and tried-and-true suggestions have come my way. I’ve hoped for, and sought out, camels, donkeys, alpacas, and llamas; I’ve considered taxis and transport services that lug backpacks from one inn to the next stage that you expect to complete – which is tricky for me, given that my body has a ‘mind’ of its own, and may not let me know until mid-morning (despite my best intentions) that it will not manage the 10 or 17 kms that I’ve planned to do.
Among the numerous ideas that have piqued my interest is one that involves purchasing or renting a trolley or cart, which would follow me wherever I go; and, at the very least, would guarantee that my gear would be with me at all times. So, I began to research these multi-wheeled creatures too. You would not BELIEVE the plethora of choices, ranging from your granny-style shopping cart, to the Wheelie III, the Dixon, the Trackmate and, even the Carrix.
What is a CARRIX?! I know, it sounds like the name of an exotic animal you might expect to find on an African safari, together with the ibex and oryx. But it’s not. Rather, it’s a two-wheeled, brilliantly-conceived “partner for trekking” that looks like a latter-day, hi-tech, wheelbarrow.
Turns out that a smart guy named Francois came up with this invention – for his wife. Nice guy. Unfortunately, Francois and said wife live in Switzerland, run a pretty small operation and don’t export to this part of the world. Yet. But the vehicle looked so promising that I simply knew that I HAD to find a way to try it out…
As luck would have it, and throwing doubt to the wind, I searched online and TADA! stumbled upon a man named Charly – who was selling his Carrix his after towing it, of all places, the Camino earlier this year. Turns out that Charly (another nice guy) lives twenty minutes away, and was only too pleased to show me the ropes and let me have a spin.
At midday today, I arrived at Charly’s place to find him already decked out in harness; he was obviously well-prepared for my visit, further confirmed by the collection of maps and books that were spread out on his dining room table. After some explanations and discussions about weight and my carrying limitations, we headed down to see the much-revered ‘silent’ trekking partner.
And then, with Charly hooked into the contraption, and I walking alongside, we headed down the sidewalk towards a park. As Charly sauntered along, hands-free, the Carrix carrying the bulk of the backpack tied down onto its frame, I stared in wonder… and wondered whether it would be possible for my body to do the same. It looked doable, almost weightless, promising indeed…
My turn. With just a dash of trepidation, I stepped into the ‘drivers’ spot, while Charly helped me get strapped, hooked and harnessed into place. So far, so good. Then, I had to kneel and, somehow, find a way to stand up with poles on either side of me raising the loaded cart behind me. Which is where I first wavered and felt weakness.
But then, the real test: Taking one step after another, tethered to, well.. what actually felt like a beast, behind me. I managed about twenty paces before I called it a day. My sacrum groaned and gurgled. Some nerves and fascia awoke from their naps, and decided to rev up the pain quotient. I confessed to Charly that my Thai surgeon and other doctors would have me by my neck if they saw me now.
Only after we tried flipping the Carrix around so that I could try pushing it (instead of hauling it behind me), did Charly divulge the total weight of the backpack tied to the cart: 10kg. (No surprise: I tried lifting a 2kg pack of flour at the supermarket the other day… no go. So, LESS is my limit!)
Alas, the Carrix was not to be the panacea I’d hoped for. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll still find myself a Golden Ticket… (and if all else fails, well.. there’s always chocolate 😉