Camino de Santiago

Camino Journal – Pre Trip Preamble

The Camino Journal – Pre-Trip NotesCamino de Santiago

A few months back I decided to walk the breadth of Spain to spend a springtime enjoying the culture, the food and the weather of the Spanish countryside. It seemed like the perfect sojourn for one seeking alternatives to the retiree ‘daily grind’.  The prospect that drew me to Spain is the Camino de Santiago – the Way of St James. The Camino has been a popular Pilgrimage route since the Middles Ages and employed as a means to seek remission of temporal punishment for one’s offenses. Although earning a ‘plenary judgment’ draws many to the path, others are enticed by the beauty, the serenity, the opportunity for better introspection and the pure adventure of it – this is why I’m going. This journal is about my sojourn along the way. I hope you enjoy it and find value in its contents.

21 November 2016

The Camino Adventure is five months away, so it’s time to get serious with the planning and preparation. Every Pilgrim has their own story and they tell it their own way; this is mine.  This ‘pre-trip’, or ‘preamble’, portion of the journal will focus on what I did and why I did it to get ready for the trip.  If your keen to read more about the adventure itself, then skip this section and wait until the daily blogging begins in April  –  this lengthy section may only appeal to those  interested in what it takes to get ready for such a trip.

Why undertake an 850 km walk? There are too many answers to cover now, but the best I can offer is that it seems like the right thing to do and now is the right time to do it. Serendipitous events lead to fascinating lives, if we let them.   A collusion of influences introduced the concept of spending the spring walking through northern Spain and events have conspired to make it possible. I’m not sure that it’s ‘now or never’, but the opportunity of ‘now’ presents itself, so, it’s time to make it happen.

The route I plan to take (there are several) is the ‘French Way’ or the Camino Frances from town St Jean-Pied-du-Port (SJPP-France) to city of Santiago de Compostela (769 km). During my research and discussions I’ve learned that the best journey’s end, terminates at Muxia & Finisterre (the ‘end of the world’) and an additional ~90 kms (3-4 days) beyond Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims often say that this is where the trip really ends, not in a populous city, but on the coast of death (Costa de Morte) overlooking the ocean. That is where I plan to go.

Camino de Santiago
Camino Frances – the French Route

After walking the Camino my wife may meet up and together we’ll train and backpack like kids throughout Spain and enjoy the fascinating culture, foods, beverages, history and sites – another once is a lifetime opportunity. From there – home; back to the lake!

Camino initial Planning and Preparation

Proper preparation for any adventure has many components to it, but on this journey I’ll preface it with the aspects of Physical, Mental and Equipping

Physical

A trip of 850 Kms may start with the first step, but will rarely be completed unless one can physically endure every step in between that first and the final. Preparing the body for the effort began over the summer and will continue until I hop off the airplane back at Anchorage International.   The quickest way to kill off this dream is through injury or mishap leading to injury. My program includes three focuses – weight training, hiking endurance and general health.

Weight

Although I’m two years into retirement, I have not gained the retiree’s bulge or immobility that leads to an early death. However, the sedentary lifestyle is leading in that direction, so the first goal is to get my training under control early enough so I’m at the right weight when starting the trip. By the middle of the summer one day I hit an awkward 194 on the scale, not bad for a 6’4” former athletically inclined guy. Unfortunately, I’m only 5’8” and by all standards, that’s too much weight to lug around the Spanish countryside when it serves no purpose other than prematurely wearing out my joints. My challenge is that I’m short, wide and compact and have spent a lifetime on the athletic fields and in gyms. Even when I was ‘overweight’ by Army weight standards, I was always well under by the Body Fat Standards by quite a few percentages. Two years into retirement, although the weight is high its all pretty solid. I’m loath to step on a scale these days (because I really don’t have to!) but I measure my progress by the ‘belt loop – hole’ method. If I can comfortably use the last hole in my very old belt, I know my waist is ‘good to go’! I keep telling myself that my weight is also good because ‘muscle is heaver that fat’! I’m not sure that’s a very sane understanding of physiology, but it is satisfying. My goal will be to get down to 175, if I can. No sense in carrying around extra weight when I can avoid it. This will call for less food, less beer and less sitting behind a computer. Additionally, this will necessitate a change in the training program, less weight bearing and more cardio. As we live in Alaska and the temps are already averaging in the mid to low 20s F. and will only get colder over the next few months, this will be particularly challenging. Outdoor activities like rucking will be less accessible. But, there are other options!

Endurance

I vividly recall running through forests carrying a 72 pound ruck with weapon, load bearing equipment and an attitude.   We Special Forces Assessment and Selection candidates  ‘encouraged’ to meet the unknown time and distance standard. I was 28 and I was up for it. Although I had graduated from Ranger school only 2 months previously, I’d recovered well enough to hump a ruck and hike. At Ranger school I had lost over 20 pounds rucking and patrolling and generally abusing my body;  it mentally toughened me up to push beyond the pain and nausea and endure until the mission was done.

I’m now 54 and not nearly a resilient as I used to be. Rebuilding rucking and cardio endurance will be another vital challenge to a complete preparation. The knees, the lower back, the neck and the attitude have all spiraled into middle age. While the mind may be willing, I’ll need to slowly build up the body so it’s able. Fortunately, my research suggests that one should not endure the Camino with a backpack weighing more that 10% of ones body weight. I figure if I can get the ruck down to less than 20 pounds, I’ll be good to go; less, even better. With that in mind, the focus will be on lightweight training and long distance endurance so that I can efficiently and consistently average of 20-25 Kms of hiking a day.

As kids growing up in Bangkok the only time we ever wore shoes was to school. I recall always coming home from a day of play and having to scrape the cooled and dried tar from the bottom of our calloused feet with a Swiss army knife so we didn’t leave tar trails throughout the house.  These were tough feet! Much has changed since then, and these cushy pink soles will need lots of attention so I’m not sidelined early in walk with blisters.

To prep for that I’ve been carrying a 20-30 pound ruck 10Ks every few days. I’ll work up to heavy short distances to build muscle endurance and feet toughness, and then slowly drop the weight and increase the distance for a sustained long-term endurance. While I don’t think it’ll be necessary to end up training with 20-30 Km hikes every day, once or twice a week should suffice. The Camino route itself is not too demanding in the topography, just the distance.   I’m keen to remind myself that this is not a military school or deployment, it’s not a race, it’s a pilgrimage, a period of introspection, discovery and even to some degree, an adventure.   Time is not an issue,,,,but learning to slow down and enjoy the moment is.

General Conditioning

Generally, I’m in great shape, for a middling aging man. Most of my ailments are a function of being ‘ridden hard and put away wet.’ – prematurely wearing out all the bones and connections and functions from overuse or abuse. If I sustain the muscles that keep the core, the bones and sinews in place, then the pain in the knees, ankles back, neck shoulders should be bearable.   If they are unbearable, there’s always better living through pharmaceuticals. I’m no stranger to Ibuprofen and beer (or wine in Spain).   However, proper weight, proper endurance training combined with clean living (for the next 5 months) should keep me fit enough to get to the French-Spanish Boarder town of St Jean Pied de Port.

To monitor my progress I’m maintaining a matrix reflecting the training program. In the postscript section of this journal I’ll note if this program was sufficient (or overkill) for the trip and attach a copy as a link somewhere in this journal. I also started using a heart monitor to gauge my heart rate against my level of effort. I finally got rid of the chest strap and invested in the waterproof apple watch (2). Although I haven’t yet kept detailed heart rate records, I’ve tracked calories expended for each workout. Now with a combination of activity, heart rate and calories expended I can get a good assessment if I’m making progress.   Clearly, the proof will be in the pudding so to speak – will I physically endure to Finnisterre.

Mental

I’ve always found that the mental preparation for any venture is the half the effort. If one can imagine the journey, the stresses, difficulties and the ultimate outcome, then they are further along to setting conditions to achieve their desired end-state.   The mental preparation I speak to is not the metaphysical aspects of joining a pilgrimage, but rather the mental journey necessary to ensure that upon the day of crossing the ‘Starting Point’ (military vernacular), or, hopping on a jet bound for Spain, that most all arrangements are in order and all contingencies for the trip are prepared.   This effort includes: research, planning and coordination.

Research

Researching today is so simplified with the support of high speed Internet and the overwhelming desire of people to share their experiences (just like me!).   Although I’ve had several inspirational and informative conversations with former El Camino Frances Pilgrims, one is left only with mental images and senses about their journey. The specifics of their trips are usually illusory as they relate stories about fascinating places, unfortunate circumstances and funny occasions.   Thus far, I’ve found the internet to be the solution to almost all of my questions, and even some answers to questions I didn’t know enough to consider.

The four major areas of concern I’ve researched provided an overarching view of the necessities of the trip. They include:

  •  By what means do I get to the beginning – St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, there was no direct route by air or train from Alaska.
  •  How the pilgrimage hotels (Albergue) work: cost, check-in/out, availability, etiquette. How to find them and other more subdued accommodations.
  •  Equipment. I find I’ve spent a good deal of time researching the right equipment. Years of experience in the ‘Field’ remind me that I always carried too much and always regretted it. For once, I’d like to get this right. Communications is also a key element as I intend to ‘Blog’ my way through the trip and need to find suitable cell and data coverage.
  • Trail planning. Although few plans ever survive beyond the page they’re written on, I’ve found it’s always best to have a plan from which to diverge. I’m keen to plot out a general itinerary on days, distances and places to visit along the path.

Fortunately, there’s a plethora of answers on the many web-sties, blogs, apps, journals and books available to the inquiring mind. I’ll include a list of web-sites that I’ve studied at the end of this journal. Each offers a unique view into the world of the ‘Pellegrino’ and shows there are many ways to walk the path and achieve one’s aspirations.

           Planning

Planning, as it currently stands I’ll depart Anchorage on/about 10 April, fly through Frankfurt/Paris/Madrid/Barcelona and rest for a day or two to acclimate, work through the time lag, coordinate for cell-phone and data coverage and then move out to SPJP. I wish to begin walking from SPJP on the 15th. A normal time period is from 30-37 days walking with a few rest / tourism days thrown into the mix. This should put me in Finnisterre around the first of Jun – before the summer crowds deluged the route. From there I plan to take a leisurely tour of Spain and Portugal visiting some of the more exotic places by train (Lisbon, Salamanca, …..) Finally, if I don’t start from Barcelona I’ll end up there and train from there to Voralrburg Austria to meet up with Ursula at our apartment (that is if she’s unable to join me for the later half of the trip).   Depending on the timing of events we’ll return together or separately around the end of Jun to make it back to Big Lake’s 4th of July celebration.

I’ve read a good deal of commentary on whether or not to spend the first night on the trail at the Alburge at Orrison (Refugio). As it’s only about 8 Kms into the walk, it appears to be dismissively short of an initial effort. However, there are strong recommendations from previously pelgrinos that it’s worth stopping: first, the initial assent and decent into Roncesvalles  is steep both ways and many walkers injure themselves on the first day. Second, is that they say the social aspects of coming out of this one alburge set the best ‘conditions’ for the entire Camino. Many claim to have made lifelong friends from the other walkers.   If I decide to stay, all sources recommend that reservations are made well in advance as there’s only about 26 beds. Once I determine my travel and start dates I think it would be a good idea to make the reservation, and take it from there.

As no plan ever survives….. It’ll be curious to read back to this one in 6 months and compare it to reality.

            Coordination

Coordination will occur much later in the preparation cycle, as I’m loath to commit funds until I know this is really going to happen. However, some events take a much longer lead time than others, so we’ve already coordinated for a Cat / House sitter to move into our home while both Ursula (wife) and I are traveling. Although she’ll leave to Europe two weeks after me to meet up with her touring group (She continues to serve as a Tour Guide for American high school students touring Europe during their summer) we’ll both be gone from our home over May and into early July.

The other ‘mental’ activity in which I’ve engaged is trying to learn Spanish as spoken in Spain.   When I joined the service, we spent a lot of time preparing to, or deployed to, Latin America. Spanish was normally heard throughout the barracks and motor pools. But, ‘barracks or motor pool talk’ is not quite the polite language one should converse with when walking as a Pilgrim.   Besides, that was a very long time ago and the Puerto Rican and Mexican slang would not take me too far in Spain. So, I ordered two Fluenz Spanish (Spain) language CDs and am halfway through the first. It’s probably a good thing to really learn how to ask for a beer or where the bathroom is.   My research suggests that few people along the route speak English; so even a more fluent understanding of the language may be in order.

Equipping

Although more is usually ‘More Better’, it’s not so in this case. Equipment and kit equals weight – weight is bad. All of my research suggests that the kit (weight) you bring along the journey is inversely proportional to the enjoyment of the journey. They stress two points, lighter is better and any item that serves as multi-use is better than one that does not.   As the route is not difficult and traverses through civilization (food and shops) and the Albergues will provide lodging, most of the camper’s heavy weight items are extraneous to this trip. Key elements are a comfortable and light backpack, two pairs of clothing and socks, a fleece and waterproof jacket, small water container, walking shoes (heavy mountain boots not needed), a Permethrin sprayed sleeping bag liner (to keep the bed bugs off) and limited personal hygiene items are the bare essentials. Clearly this is an austere list, but most on-line gurus suggest this forms the nucleus and diverging too far from its austerity is not a good thing.

I plan to up the list with one gadget, which in this case is an iPhone 7+ and extra battery source. It will serve as the phone, data center for blogging, camera, music, reading books, GPS and Map. I’ll add a light head lamp for the midnight walks to the bathroom (even though the iPhone could do that) and my ever handy Swiss Army knife that will work for nail clipping, bread cutting, wine bottle opening and all sorts of other necessities of existence.   A hat, glasses and sunglasses will top out the list with a final item to aid my stumbles (bad knees and ankles) – two walking sticks.

After hiking with my old backpack, I learned to love it, but not it’s weight. At 8.5 pounds empty, it’s a modern monster.   After much research I settled on Osprey’s Altmos 50 AG. It comes in at 4.01 pounds, which is about a pound heavier than some of the other brands. However, I’m a bit rough on my equipment and durability it key with me. The ultra lightweight models just don’t leave me with the impression that they’ll last much longer than this one trip. As I’m cheap, I want something that will last a while.   Again, as I’m cheap, I wanted versatility in a pack that I can use for other trips; hence, I did not get the lighter, but smaller, 35 liter models.   After a few short 10 Ks hikes with the Osprey, I really love how comfortable it feels. I started off with 20 pounds and worked up to 30 and though you can feel the pressure on the hips, for the most part if feels like it floats. Much better than my 20 year old, indestructible Backpack and lightening years ahead of my old military ruck sacks!

Now that I have the bag, it’s time to begin collecting the rest.

1 January 2017

The New Year has arrived with congestion, coughing and headaches, thanks to those little incubators of disease – nephews and their schoolmates (or fellow airplane travelers – it’s tough to tell which?). At a recent dinner party I stumbled across a startling (but happy) revelation about this trip – hopefully it’s just the beginning of many more insights to come.   When traveling on a long pilgrimage, you never travel alone. I don’t mean that in the metaphysical sense that the ‘Maker’s’ spirit travels along in your knapsack (although he may?). However, when on a long sojourn many of your friend’s dreams and aspirations walk along with you. I was surprised at how many others received inspiration from the fact that I’ve decided to take on this adventure. Many wish to do so, but for reasons of their own are unable and have decided to invest some of their dreams in my efforts. It’s a humbling, motivational and quite unexpected sensation to realize that one’s own journey can be the journey for many. I’m advised that my Blog for the trip needs to be well posted and better maintained as they intend to be there in spirit and the Blog is the best way to know how well we’re all doing! What Fun!

5 January 2017

Five days into the New Year and I’m ‘backsliding’ already. I’ve attributed my lack of focus on health and exercise to the lingering chest cold, but I really know it’s due to my own laziness. Time to snap out and get it together, only three and half months to get ready! So, my official 2017 weight in weight is just under 190 (189.5!), only 15 pounds to lose, if I can do it. My conditioning has regressed from few, to no workouts over the past few weeks of traveling and merry making….and the seasonal flu. Monday begins the ‘Clean’ diet, or detox effort, for three weeks. The aim there is to get rid of all the toxins floating around the body so it can easily recover and train. Additionally, I’ll need to modify the training program to include quite a bit more aerobic exercise to begin to build rucking stamina while cutting down on muscle mass (and fat).

 9 January 2017

Still lazy, but getting over the doldrums. Today we hiked ‘Ice-5’ (the scraped ice road on the lake) to get back into walking. With the temps at 0 degrees and the roads & trails frozen with scatterings of snow and ice, the cleared roads on the open frozen lake seems to offer a preferable route on which to exercise. On top of re-energizing the walking program, the “Clean” de-tox program is helping to purge the system….and begin to loose some of the extra “cargo”.   The hike was short and cold (4.14 miles @ -2 degs F), icicles were dangling from our eyebrows when we finally hit our switchbacks in the yard. In spite of the short hike we walked for an hour and half and burned about 495 calories. Walking on snow and ice takes quite a bit of effort and energy.

31 January 2017

Preparation hikes along the frozen lakes
Temperatures, sub-zero and holding!

I’ve finally broken through the doldrums, or laziness, with an increase in the exercise routine; back to 4-6 days a week with either time at the gym or hiking the ice road (6-8 miles). I don’t think I’ll get the mileage in the I should on the roads (incredibly boring), but the fact that they’re covered in ice and snow helps increase the effort level. Finally, we finished the 3 (ok, 2.5) week Clean Diet and it was a success. The first week had little impact, though I did get the cold/flu symptoms (a sure sign that the toxins were coming out). By the second week the boredom of the diet was overwhelming but I finally began to notice a small weight and internal changes. By the third week the acid and bloating were all gone and I dropped about 5-7 pounds. After today’s 8.4 mile hike (with 25 pd ruck) I weighed-in at 182.5, about a 7 pound drop from the beginning of the year. If I can maintain progress, I should get down to a consistent 175 (fighting weight!) by the time I depart for SJPP.  OK, that was humor, 175 is a dream….but hey, why not dream crazy-like!

By way of equipping, I’ve purchased lighter kit but still not light enough to get below 20 pounds. I’ll leave the details to the end of the “Prep” discussions as the back and forth on what to carry is insane. I’m accustomed to trying to live by the motto ‘Travel light, freeze at night’ but even though I don’t need to sacrifice comfort any more (just weight) I can’t seem to get below 20. My guess is that those Pelegrinos who walk with 10—15 pounds don’t plan to stay in country for two plus months; suffer a lot; or rely quite a bit on the ‘pack mules’ along the route for their emergent needs.

More training!

Travel Planning: I’ve learned how to get from Madrid to SJPP. There’s no direct route and it requires either flying and bus/taxi or train and bus/taxi. Plenty is written about the option on numerous Camino web-sites but planning ahead is key to minimize unnecessary delays.   It’s instrumental to note that a single day trip from Big Lake to SJPP is not likely – or desirable. At this stage I plan to fly to Madrid, by way of Frankfurt and rest two days to get over jet lag, tour a little, check out the Prado Museum, and find a suitable in-country telephone card with a good data plan – pay as you go. Then take a train to the city of Pamplona in the morning and catch an afternoon (1430) bus to SJPP. Arriving in SJPP around 1600-1700 is sufficient time for Camino check-in, securing a hotel, touring the village and getting a good night sleep for an early start on the 15th.

 10 Mar 2017

The air tickets are purchased, the initial hotel reservations locked in – the trip is on! The plan outlined above still pretty much stands, but with one major exception. Ursula and I will travel to Frankfurt together then I’ll solo the rest of the way as she heads off to Austria.

My shadow rucking the lake

The training program seems to be coming along well enough with long walks along ‘Ice-5” (10-12 miles) with few blisters and minimal back pain. The kit is still around 22 pounds (can’t seem to get below 22 now) but I’m good with it as I’m not keen to pare away anything else and to get ‘uber’ lighter stuff will cost too much. The ‘cargo’ weight, we’ll it’s not down to 175….I guess that was a pipe dream.

The WordPress Blog set-up seems to be working so I can blog along the Camino from my cellphone. We’ll see how that works. Finally, the Spanish lessons seem to paying off as I can comfortably order a beer …. “Je voudrais une biere, s’il vous plait.” Oh…..wait….that’s not Spanish, is it? Ok, the lessons are coming along…..just ok. As long as I can order a “quiero un sandwich de Jamon y aqua”…. I’ll survive.

26 Mar 17

Two weeks until our departure. The training is going fairly well with 3 hikes a week at 6-12 miles each and swimming or other aerobic activity on most of the other days. During my hikes I don’t take any breaks (it’s still between 0-15 degrees F, stopping for any length is not comfortable!) it’s at the 6-7 mile mark when the ‘hot spots’ begin on my feet. I guess the learning point there is to stop around 6 miles and air the feet out and put on a dry set of socks (where the temps are warmer in the Spanish mountains). This should keep me blister free?  (at the end of this ‘preamble’ section I’ll post a copy of my work-out schedule for those of you thinking about taking this trip.)

The closer I get, the heavier my backpack grows. I’m now up to around 24 pounds and not keen to shed any of the kit to make it lighter. I’m so done with shopping and the insanity of trying to find the lightest set of pants or socks or whatever. Much of the weight comes from an abundance of inclement and wet weather gear (5.17 pounds). As I’ll be crossing the Pyrenees in spring when the weather is really unpredictable, I’m really hesitant to drop any of this kit. The sleeping kit (poncho liner, silk sleeping bag liner and blow up pillow) comes in 2.06 pounds. I read that this is pretty minimalist (other than the indulgence of a pillow (5 ounces)) and I’m not willing to drop any of it or spend the $$$ to purchase an extreme light sleeping bag to save half a pound. However, once I get out of the mountains I can mail a few of the items ahead and recover them at the Post Office in Santiago. I may end up dropping the number of trousers or socks or shirts and buy some extra ones once the hike portion of the trip is over.  I gather that most of the pilgrims are in really casual gear, but this may not be suitable when traveling and touring on the second half of my trip. Here’s a spreadsheet of the items I’ll be bringing and their weight. (today’s packing list – Z Packing List ver 26 Mar). Yes, it says that I’ll only have 20.74 pounds on my back, but somehow the air in the free space in my pack must also have weight as I can’t seem to get it collectively under 23.

Travel insurance is the question of the hour. Is it really necessary and from whom to purchase it. Key for me is to get a medical insurance that I can flash at a treatment facility in the event the unthinkable happens and I hurt myself. I really don’t want to try to use Tricare (my insurer) over there and really complicate my life with seeking reimbursement, so a ‘primary’ travel coverage that’s common in Spain seems to be a good idea. More to follow on this issue later.

All of the arrangements that I need to make ahead of time are made with the exception of the flight from Frankfurt to Madrid. I’ll lock that in this week. As I get closer I may set up the train ticket and bus or taxi reservation from Madrid to Pamplona and from there to SJPP. This is not ‘necessary’ as these are easily purchased on site at the time of travel, but possibly a good idea even though I’m not in the ‘high’ season?

Cross of St James
Cross of St. James

A good friend gave me a St. James Cross hat pin that he picked up in Santiago de Compostela a few years back. I quickly put it on my hat as I’m hoping to collect the best luck I possibly can to ensure I complete the journey (hmm, maybe that’s where all that unaccounted for extra weight is coming from?).   I hope to be able to return the favor by picking up a replacement pin for him when I get there myself.

At this stage, I’m weary of planning and training, it’s time to get it started. My focus for the next two weeks is not injure myself or do something stupid that makes all this effort for naught.

1 Apr 2007

One Week and a wake up, then the odyssey to get across the sea begins – nothing is close from Alaska.

A few updates on the training plan and equipping drama.

Last week enough snow melted that I was able to hike on my normal loop on the roads. Shoe tragedy hit! My trusty ole walking shoes were suddenly cramped, hard and I developed blisters and hot spots where I had none before; plus, some of the stitching began to come apart.   It was time to do what nobody wants to do before a long hike – buy new shoes! I picked up a pair of Solomon’s and I’m not not sure how the break-in is coming along because I’m back to hiking on the lake (it snowed again – where’s spring?) and I still have the hot-spots and blisters from the other day. This is not a fortuitous omen!

The kit weight obsession won out. I’m cutting what I said I wouldn’t to get below 20. I’m now only taking two pairs of pants and shirt (plus 2 teck shirts). I’ve dropped the poncho and the Frogg Togg jacket and the walking sticks are staying home. I really like them and hate to loose them outside an Alburge as many will not allow you to bring them inside. This is counter intuitive, but I’ll buy a walking cane, or a couple of cheap sticks in SJPP and leave them in Santiago. This will also be helpful getting through the airports. That brought me down to 18 pounds in the pack unless I’m using the jacket and fleece, then I’d be down to 16. Today’s walk was ‘springy’ with such a light load.  Also I finally got to hike in temps above freezing (it was just barley at 38 degrees) and I was super warm. After a winter of training in sub-freezing temps, even with the minimal kit that I’m bringing I’m pretty sure that I can survive the 40- 50 degrees that may come along on the initial legs of the trip.

I’ll finish this next week off with a few short hikes (6 miles) and rest the feet for the last few days. The only concern with my program thus far is that I haven’t been hiking hills and my altitude has been fairly close to sea-level. Even though I feel good, the first day in the Pyrenees may trying as a result.

My body weight – we’ll the dream of getting down to 175 was just that, a dream – it ‘aint happening! Perhaps I’ll be there after the trip!

Attached here is a copy of the final kit matrix Packing List.pdf  and training program   Exercise Log  (for those needing something to put them to sleep)

9 April 2017

Tomorrow we launch for Euro and by this time next week I should be on the Camino Trail. I thought I ran out of time to make any more last minute equipment/kit changes (fortunately), but I was wrong (fortunately?). I found a few lighter items to swap out with a few of the heavier ones; and of course I added a few last minute items that I guess I should not live without – Will this never END! Yes, tomorrow!   The pack weight is about as good as it’s going to get (back up to 22 pounds total, including those items I plan to wear while walking (minus the boots); my workout plan is over (I’m too pooped to do more and my feet need the respite), I’m physically as prepared as I’ll get (my body weight loss never had a chance in getting to where I wanted). A man can only commit to so much!

In the last weeks I’ve engaged with the Anchorage Chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino and they were kind enough to send me a scalloped shell and Alaska Chapter patch. Both will go on my backpack. The Scalloped shell is the symbol of the Camino Pilgrim and recognized world wide.

Tomorrow the journey of mind, body & spirit begins, so does the real blogging. I hope you found something insightful in the pre-trip notes in the event you plan to take the trip yourself.

Buen Camino!

 

Interesting Links

 

 

 

9 Comments

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  7. Excellent write up, Darren! I think you will quickly find that your preps have paid off and the hike over the Route Napoleon will not be the hardest challenge you face. You’ll know what I mean soon.

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