Tag Archives: spain

The Physical And Mental Aspects Of The Camino

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end”
-Ursula K. Leguin
People walk the Camino for many reasons. Some choose to do it just for the challenge of walking 500 miles in the course of 30-35 days. Others make the journey for more spiritual or personal reasons. The death of a loved one, defeating a deadly disease or hoping that one in remission doesn’t return.
Others, however, are searching for something. It can be a turning point in their lives. A change in jobs or careers. Or as it will be in my case, retirement. What am I going to do when I retire? I’ll only be 55 so the prospect of doing nothing doesn’t seem that appealing.
So why am I writing this? Most of the videos I have seen and books I have read claim that walking the Camino itself is the spiritual journey. I am looking at this from a slightly different point of view.
I hold a strong belief that the mental and physical preparation prior to the actual walk is what will maximize the overall spiritual nature of the walk itself. Stories I have read describe people who just make the decision to walk the Camino with no physical preparation. They describe the agonizing first miles that are filled with blisters, pulled muscles and pain.
In some cases, this may indeed enhance the quality of their walk. They may see this suffering as part of their journey. The hope that I have is that by being physically fit at the start of my journey, it will then keep the mental lows to a minimum. One of the things that I have found throughout my life is that it usually isn’t the body that fails us first, it’s our lack of mental preparedness.  But, as they say on the AT, “Hike your own hike.” I would think that the same applies here.
Anyone have any thoughts?
Happy Hiking!!!

Ankle Update & More On The Camino


It’s now been seven months since I fractured my ankle. Obviously with a great deal of hard work with the PT and doing those same exercises at home along with riding my stationary bike, I have made a great deal of progress.

Thankfully, the progress has been both mental and physical. For months I worried that I might not be able to hike again. It hurt twenty-four seven and I wasn’t seeing any kind of progress. Of course, my PT has been telling me it would take time but I didn’t want to hear it. But now it has been a little over half of a year and that’s ok! Now that I am able to ride the stationary bike just about every day, my thoughts have now turned to think more seriously about doing the Camino Frances.

Since I am now looking at a date in 2020, I have been looking at the equipment I will be bringing. As of right now, I will carry everything on my back and not rely on a service to transport my stuff from one albergue to another. Although many folks do this, I feel more comfortable carrying my own gear.

I will be using the same pack I used this summer, the Osprey Kestrel 48. From reading reviews and watching videos, folks are saying that a 48 liter pack might be too big, but I’d rather have the extra room just in case!

As of today (and it may change), I really want to do the Camino in a pair of Vasque St. Elias GTX boots. They are heavier than most boots but I have never had a blister wearing them and this has been on roads, groomed trails and trails with heavy roots on them. The Vasque’s, of course, will be coupled with Merino Wool socks. Also, I am not a favorite of trail runners so one way or another I will be wearing boots.

In regards to sleeping arrangements, I won’t have to bring a tent. Along the entire route, they have albergue’s, where pilgrims can spend the night. And although the albergue’s have beds, I will carry a sleeping bag liner in the event that sheets are dirty or have bed bugs. Let’s hope not!

More on the Camino in the next post.

Happy Hiking!!!


Camino de Santiago


A couple of days ago I wrote that after careful consideration, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail was not going to happen. After consulting with my doctor, the fact that something could happen during a thru hike related to being dehydrated and my kidneys was too much to ignore. Also, if I were to get injured on the trail, I’m not confident that I would be able to either get out under my own power or be able to contact someone for help. This latest incident really made me think!

So what am I to do? A couple of years ago two of my colleagues completed a portion of the Santiago de Compostela. As I sat in my usual spot earlier this summer waiting and waiting for my ankle to heal, I thought about that and began researching what it would take to hike the entire Camino Frances.

What is the Santiago de Compostela you might ask? (taken from Wikipedia)

“The Camino de Santiago “Pilgrimage of Compostela”; known in English as the Way of Saint James among other names, is a network of pilgrims’ ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups.”

Although there are many different routes to get to Santiago, “The commonly agreed-upon route for El Camino de Santiago (a.k.a. the Way of St. James) begins at Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and travels 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.” This is the route that I intend to take.

Because so many people choose to hike, walk or bike the Camino, it has actually become a livelihood for the poeple living there and as a result has been broken up into 32 stages. Although the distance of each of the stages are similar, the difficulty can range from really difficult to really easy. It all depends on the day. They say you should allow for a total of 35 days to hike the Camino Frances, but some take longer, some shorter. There are so many towns and villages along the way so that if you decide that you want to go longer one day or cut a day short, it’s all up to you.

This is the main reason I have chosen to hike the Camino Frances. The fact that being isolated along the Camino is next to impossible, water is plentiful and places to stay are in abundance makes this an ideal place to spend a month or two right after I retire. You can even add on mileage at the end to add a hundred or so miles to your trek!

So the dream for now to thru hike the AT is gone. That’s ok. The large amount of other places to experience what it offers can be found elsewhere and I think that I have found it.

Has anyone reading this hiked any part of the Camino de Santiago?  Is anyone planning to do so? Let me know.