Hiking the Camino Compostala Series – Part 1 – July 2023

Hiking the Camino Compostala Series - Part 1

This is the start of a series of blogs for hiking the Camino Compostela. I am hoping that ,after reading these blogs we can form a group of hikers , for both national and international hiking trails.

What is the Camino Compostela?

The Camino Compostela, often referred to as the Camino de Santiago, is a famous and centuries-old pilgrimage route that leads to the city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. It’s not just a walk; it’s a journey of self-discovery, cultural exploration, and spiritual reflection. People from all around the world travel this path, which offers different starting points and various routes, each with its unique charm.

The ultimate destination is the stunning Cathedral of Santiago, believed to be the resting place of Saint James the Great. The Camino welcomes individuals of all backgrounds, and it’s a chance to meet fellow travelers, experience diverse landscapes, and ponder life’s big questions while taking one step at a time. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a complete newbie, the Camino Compostela is an adventure that can transform your life and leave you with incredible memories and lasting friendships.

Why hike the Camino?

People hike the Camino Compostela, for a multitude of reasons, and the pilgrimage’s allure lies in its ability to cater to a wide range of personal motivations. Here are some of the most common reasons why individuals embark on this transformative journey:

1. Spiritual Quest: Many pilgrims undertake the Camino for spiritual reasons. It’s an opportunity to connect with their faith, find solace, and seek a deeper understanding of themselves and the divine. The Camino is often associated with the veneration of Saint James the Great, and reaching the Cathedral of Santiago is a spiritual achievement for many.

2. Cultural Exploration:The Camino offers a unique way to immerse oneself in the rich history and diverse cultures of Spain and Europe. Along the way, you’ll encounter charming villages, ancient architecture, and local customs that provide a profound cultural experience.

3. Physical Challenge: For some, the Camino is a personal challenge. It tests one’s physical endurance and resilience. Hiking long distances with a backpack can be physically demanding, making it a rewarding fitness journey.

4. Self-Discovery: The solitude and simplicity of life on the Camino provide an ideal environment for introspection. It’s a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, reflect on personal goals, and gain insights into one’s life path.

5. Social Connections: The Camino fosters a strong sense of community and camaraderie. You’ll meet people from all walks of life and make lasting friendships, sharing stories and support along the way.

6. Adventure: Many embark on the Camino for the sheer adventure of it. The diversity of landscapes, changing terrain, and the unknown that lies around each bend in the trail create an exciting and unpredictable journey.

7. Healing: Some pilgrims walk the Camino as a form of healing, either physically or emotionally. It can be a therapeutic experience that allows them to leave behind troubles, find closure, or regain their physical and mental well-being.

For me, hiking the Camino Compostela was an item I had on my bucket list for a while.

What pushed me to go?

My wife informed me that her friend Rose (71 years old!) was planning to hike the entire length of the Camino Compostela Pilgrimage Trail in northern Spain, 800 + kilometers. S

he thought I should go on this hike . I had told my wife about the hike; never expecting to have the opportunity to go.

I was not physically ready or prepared but I was willing to go, so I signed up. The hike is a centuries old pilgrimage started in the Middle Ages in Spain to commemorate St James, the apostle of Jesus Christ. Tens of millions of pilgrims walked the pilgrimage over the course of its existence.

What to expect on the hike?

The route starts in the south west corner of France .In one day the route crosses into Spain and over a pass through the Pyrenees. From that point it streams through dozens of small Spanish towns . Finally the Camino ends in the City of Sanitagio at the cathedral of Compostala.

You are also treated to several historical sites such as Pampiloma for the running of the bulls, or the trace of Ernest Heminway, the cathedral of Burguos. Or any of the half dozen other cathedrals on the trail. Once you complete the hike you will be a witness and participant of one of the greatest religious ceremony. Twenty monks ringing a set of gigantic bells swinging inside the center of the catheral. It was a site I have never seen before or since.

Each of those towns that you will walk though has at least one hostel and a “pilgrim “ restaurant . I did not realize , from my homework ,that there was at least one” open door” church in each village. Each of the hostels had a loose band of Pilgrams that would join together each night to share their experiences of the day and some idea of why they came on this journey.

Many conversations drew us into our life paths that got us into the hike. My path was to finally see an opportunity of fulfilling 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.

Training for the hike

When my wife offered me the opportunity to take this 800 kilometer hike I was willing but not able. I needed a great deal of training Nutritional , physical. I needed a great deal of study. And an entire array of the proper equipment. fitnmeet.org; the first step was the hiking shoes and orthics that was provided by the Palmetto Running Shoe. They proved to be perfect tool for the long hike. I still have them even thought I have two other sets of new hiking shoes. I have chosen other excellent items for a long hike

I had several months to train and prepare for the hike . From the research I did , I quickly found that persistence and perseverance was the greatest muscle 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 points . One of the items I brought along was a small book of meditations by Thomas Merton.

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 need to rest for two days.

You too can expect many of the same types of experiences and share them with your fellow pilgrim’s and with friends and family when you get back.

Enjoy some pics from the trip below and stay tuned for part 2!

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