Hello Fit N Meet members!
Today we are continuing with our “Hiking the Camino Compostela” series.
I n Part 1 of this series, I embarked on an unexpected adventure after my wife encouraged me to join her friend Rose on an 800+ kilometer hike along the Camino Compostela Pilgrimage Trail in northern Spain. I shared my initial hesitations, my willingness to embrace the challenge, and the historical significance of the pilgrimage, which traces back to the Middle Ages and commemorates St. James.
Along the way, I highlighted the diverse experiences, from witnessing the running of the bulls in Pamplona to exploring cathedrals and forming connections with fellow pilgrims. I emphasized the importance of preparation, from physical training to gathering the right equipment, including my trusty hiking shoes and orthotics. The journey was a lesson in persistence, and I learned to savor the small moments amidst the long walks. Throughout Part 1, I aimed to convey the unique camaraderie and special connections forged among pilgrims on this remarkable journey.
Click here to read part one if you missed it.
Now, on to the next part of my journey.
My path was to a bucket list item I
thought I would never be able to even try. Many of the pilgrims had similar
thoughts. We realized that this was a special event in our lives, and we quickly
formed a special connection.
When my wife offered me the opportunity to take this 800 kilometer (about 497.1 mi) hike I was willing but not able. The picture below is me at the half way point , with my trusty walking stick. I prefer the old fashion stick than the two- handed hiking poles. (I like having one hand free.)
I needed a great deal of training. Nutritional, physical and spiritual.
(The pocket Thomas Merton study is small and gave me many thoughts and ideas to dwell on during my walks). I needed a great deal of study. And an entire array of proper equipment. I was able to get a great deal of my equipment from fitnmeet.org. See the list of what I used and what others preferred. In the next blog.
The first step was the hiking shoes and orthic equipment that was provided by the Palmetto Running Shoe store. They proved to be perfect tools for the long hike. I still have them even though I have two other sets of new hiking shoes.
I had several months to train and prepare for the hike. From the research I did, I quickly found that persistence and perseverance were the greatest muscles I needed to develop. I learned very early in the hike I had to teach myself to take in the small points of the journey not just the large point.
You will pass by many pilgrim huts used down through the years and an assortment of farm animals. The top photo is a centuries old pilgrims hut and another one of a cow looking at the camera that we saw on our way.
I also found that most of the hostels had a free collection of books built by books left by other pilgrims . You do not want to carry weight you no longer need.
As technology has developed I would now load my cell phone with a great playlist of tunes and pod casts and download new ones suggested by my fellow pilgrims. And I would download my phone’s photo files to give my phone plenty of room to load more photos.
Let’s be honest, hiking is just walking. But a long walk! You need to walk at least six to nine hours for several days at a time. And that is only if you are not on a tight schedule. I planned to stop for one day each week. I wanted to rest and / or research a town, cathedral or historical site. That became reality except for one time. I fell in step with an Italian special forces officer. We talked for hours regarding our separate plans about what we would do after the Camino. I walked 12 hours that day. It was a great day. However, the next day I had very painful shin splints and needed to rest for two days.
You too can expect many of the same types of experiences and share them with your fellow pilgrims and with friends and family when you get back.
I found that many of the hostels had outdoor kitchen equipment and my fellow pilgrims picked up pasta or vegetables or Spanish ham (very popular in Spain) or sausages and we all shared in our meals together. My specialty was cheese, sausages and pasta .
One of the many gifts I personally received was the fact that English is spoken by many of the Spanish speaking natives. It is only spoken as they said “a little bit, “ but still much better than my Spanish. And my wife is fluent in Spanish. The general atmosphere is very welcoming and inclusive.
I did have to accept the custom of eating on the Spanish timetable. To avoid any trouble, I carried a small snack. Just in case. I also found that I would meet and re-meet many hikers along the way.
I can assure you that you will meet very interesting pilgrims, tourists, and Spaniards and have a truly once in a life experience. I strongly advise you to reach out to your family and friends to encourage them to join you as a pilgrim. Enjoy each day.
The easiest way to reach others who are interested in doing the hike is to post a message in www.fitnmeet.org to get started .
This blog is about the tools one needs for a Camino Compostela hike . The Camino is not a camping exercise . It is a hiking adventure. And it is an adventure along a well established trail where over several million people have done the full 8oo kilometers and several millions others who hiked parts of the Camino.
The Camino has a history of centuries of pilgrims doing this trek. Also, the trail has many small villages along the route. You will find in those villages at least one hostel , one restaurant and one store where you could buy many of the common items needed. Lastly , for many reasons the men and women who are doing the Camino and the men and women who are servicing the Camino have shown me that they are working a mission above and beyond that which I expected.
So, the equipment is for what you need to comfortably walk for 15 kilometers per day and then enjoy a friendly evening and a safe , clean and comfortable environment.
Thus, I must impress upon you that camping is an entirely different animal and requires an entirely different set of tools. I am not a camper. However, I would like to challenge our members to review our store and note what you would recommend for a two week backpack camping trip. The website has many strategies, technical programs and systems we will use to help you to draw your friends and family into your team. All of those methods are provided to you for free. We want to help you succeed.