Training for the Camino

My projected route will start at Pamplona, at the lower right, for some 450 miles of hiking…

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Some three weeks from now I’ll be winging my way from Atlanta to Madrid.*  (As in Spain.)  I’ll arrive at 8:30 Saturday morning, after an all-night flight.  (And no doubt suffering from jet lag.)

The bad news?  “Travelling east causes more problems than travelling west because the body clock has to be advanced, which is more difficult.”  Also, if you cross six time zones – like I’ll be doing – “the body will typically adjust to this time change in three to five days.”  By which time I’m supposed to be in Pamplona, getting ready to hike 450 miles, in 30 days, on the Camino de Santiago.

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And now for some background:  Last year at this time I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.  I was also training for a canoe trip.  That canoe trip came after the Chilkoot-Trail hike, and entailed my brother and I paddling 440 miles “down” the Yukon River,* in Canada.

I described those adventures in On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1 and Part 2, and in “Naked lady on the Yukon.”  (As metaphorically illustrated at right.)

The “Chilkoot” was pretty much a nightmare.  For one thing, it’s not a trail at all.  It’s more like one big pile of &^%#$ rocks after another.  But I’m glad I did it.

I’m also glad my brother and I canoe-paddled 440 miles “down” the Yukon River, from Whitehorse  to Dawson City.  (For reasons including but not limited to the “naked lady” sighting described in my prior posts.)  So now I’m ready for a new adventure.

For one thing, between last summer and now we’ve had a contentious presidential election, and an even more contentious beginning-of-the-Trump Administration.  So my new adventure in Spain is a chance to get away from it all.  Then too, I’ve tried to keep pace with all the resulting mayhem since last August, but to no avail.  (For one thing I was going to do a post on a “Bizarro Trump.”  But that’s been impossible because it’s hard to tell the Bizarro version from the real thing.)  So I’ve decided to focus on some things I can actually have an impact on.

Things like my upcoming pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.  (Where I’ll meet up my brother in Pamplona, but not during the “running of the bulls, as seen at left.)

And incidentally, the map at the top of the page is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT.  That post described a 14-day trip on the Camino, starting at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.  But that guy and his travel-buddy covered the 500 miles on bicycles, not on foot.  (Though traveling on bikes could be a fallback position for us:  “an alternative course of action that may be taken if the original plan fails.”)

Other sites with good advice include Preparing for the Camino and Training for the Camino.

Then there’s Camino de Santiago – Helping pilgrims since 2004, and – for some “devil’s advocate” feedback – a post called 10 Reasons Why El Camino Santiago Sucks.

Among the reasons the Camino “sucks:” Car traffic within earshot 95% of the time, monotonous scenery and unfriendly commercialism.  But apparently the biggest reason:

It’s hard to take a piss.  There’s little privacy. Cars and pilgrims are constantly passing you by.  After 3 p.m. most pilgrims retire to their albergues (huts) and you’ll get more privacy to do your business.  Nevertheless, at 7 p.m. one jogger still managed to catch me with my pants down.  [Emphasis in original.]

13 Dead Horse GulchWhich could be a personal problem.  And for that matter there was also very little privacy on the Chilkoot Trail.

But as I described the situation in The Chilkoot – Part 1, that was more of a problem of “cursing my fate” rather than answering a call of nature.  (See the notes…)

Then too, I ran into a similar problem kayaking into the Okefenokee Swamp – twice – for overnight camping trips.  But in that case it was a matter of no solid ground – in the swamp – for you to get out and stand up.  (For whatever reason.)

But we were talking about “training for the Camino.”  For starters, there’s a boatload of paperwork:  Making sure your passport is up-to-date, and has at least three months left after your projected departure date.  (Departure back home from Spain that is.)  Getting your pilgrim’s “credencial.”  Booking your air line flight.  Getting travel insurance.  Getting your pack ready, and making sure it weighs no more than 10% of your body weight.  (For me, 16 pounds.)

You could get all the necessary prep-info from the websites noted above, or other informative sites. Or, you could have an ex-Marine Sgt. Rock-type older brother who’s done the research already.

And sent a number of informative emails, plus a 4-page single-spaced “to-do list” to check before you leave.  (Not to mention a note saying, “I hope you’re saving this information I’m passing on…”) 

As to getting ready to hit the trail itself, the hardest part is getting your feet ready.  (Like the hardest part of getting ready to paddle six hours a day for eight days is getting your wrists and hands in shape.)  To that end, I’ve been hiking 12 or more miles a day, once a week, for the last several months.  And making sure my feet are in good enough shape the next morning to hike another five or six hours.  And for the past several weeks I’ve been doing my weekly hikes on the Pine Mountain Trail, near F.D. Roosevelt State Park, near Warm Springs, GA.

But there’s a big difference.  The Pine Mountain Trail is – I hope – far more rugged than the Camino.  Lots of roots, boulders, sheer drop-offs and slippery-rock streams to cross.  On the other hand the Camino seems to be more smooth and level, or asphalt-paved.

Naturally I’ll be doing a post-mortem in this blog, once I get home.  So “we” will see if my hike-training preparations were adequate.  But in the meantime it pays to look ahead.  And looking ahead to some time on the weekend of October 14-15 – some seven and a half weeks from now – I hope to catch a glimpse of of our final destination, shown below.  That would be Santiago de Compostela, whether the “Pico Sacro*” is in the background or foreground.

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“A partial view of Santiago de Compostela, with the Pico Sacro in the background…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT: Map of the Routesilverarrow18.blogspot.com.  

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the asterisk next to the passage “from Atlanta to Madrid:” The image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on Spain, including a link to the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).  The caption indicated the words “No pasaran” translate to “They shall not pass.”  The caption further noted a sub-title on the banner, that “Madrid will be the graveyard of fascism.”  And finally, the caption noted that “Fascism was on rise in Europe during Spanish Civil War,” which somehow seemed appropriate…

Also, re:  “‘down’ the Yukon River.”  As explained in the “naked lady” post, the Yukon flows north, like the Nile River but unlike most other rivers in the world.  Thus the anomaly of saying you are paddling “down” a river, but also paddling northward, which most people refer to as “up.”  See The Straight Dope: On maps, why is north always up?

Re:  “Cursing my fate.”  See On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1:

What with my lack of depth perception, going over “one big pile of *&$% rocks after another” was like negotiating a minefield.  I wore heavy hiking boots, but they felt like ballet slippers. Every step was sheer torture…  I had just taken one of many missteps – especially bad that day – and let loose a string of pungent epithets. Then I looked behind me and there – climbing “personfully” behind me – was [a] sweet young [lady hiker].  Sheepishly I apologized, noting that I had “no depth perception.”

Also re:  The Camino.  See also Camino de Santiago – Wikipedia.

The image to the right of the paragraph “But as I described the situation,” shows “Dead Horse Trail,” so named for the number of horses who died on White Pass, the only alternative route to the Klondike gold fields in the 1898 gold rush.  As to which route was better – White Pass or the Chilkoot Trail –  “a pioneer – Mont Hawthorne – said there really was no choice:  “One’s hell.  The other’s damnation.”  

The “Sgt. Rock” image is courtesy of Sgt Rock Wallpapernocturnals.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Santiago de Compostela – Wikipedia.  As to “Pico Sacro,” see Pico Sacro | Web Oficial de Turismo de Santiago de Compostela, which added these points:

The history of the municipality of Boqueixón is closely linked to its main geographic landmark and greatest natural and cultural resource:  Pico Sacro, one of Galicia’s most mythical and best-known mountains.

Pico Sacro’s silhouette is a scenic point of reference in a wide-ranging area.

Pico Sacro is the source of countless legends and traditional tales.  The region’s inhabitants venerated the mountain before and after the arrival of Christianity, and it plays an essential role in the myth regarding the transfer of the Apostle James’ body.  It has a peculiar shape formed by rocks of crystallized quartz and a height of 533 metres above sea level.

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