Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Planning Day

Björn Skifs sang the U.S. Billboard chart-topper "Hooked on a Feeling" in 1974.

Rainy weather kept us in Icelandia most of the day. Since we leave Sweden a week from today, Laurie to go home to Camarillo and I to the south of France to start the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage walk, it was a good day to clean up the apartment and start sorting through things deciding what to keep and leave behind.

It was day two of no photos being taken, definitely an all-time European record.

Since I've mentioned the Camino de Santiago in passing in other posts, I thought that today I would give you a little more information of the task at hand.

The Challenge and
the Search for Spiritual Enlightenment
The Camino is both of these things. First, let's talk about the Challenge.

On 25 August Laurie and I will get on the train together one last time for the ride on the Øresundståg to Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport. About two hours after takeoff, we arrive in London where Laurie connects with her plane to Los Angeles while I remain in the U.K.'s capital for a night.

On 26 August, I hop on a flight with my favotite airline, Ryan Air, to Biarritz, France. From Biarritz, I take a train to the small French village of St. Jean Pied-de-Port. There I get my pilgrim's passport that will allow me to stay in Alberque de Peregrinos, Pilgrims' Hostels for only a few Euros a night.

The Camino is a 496.2 mile or 798.6 kilometer walk over the Pyrenees Mountains and along the north of Spain. For me it will conclude in the City of Santiago de Compostela via what is called the Camino Francés. There are other routes that get you to Santiago de Compostela but this is the main one.

Help Wanted!

This book on the Camino by John Brierly has been a great help in planning my Camino. It breaks down the walk into 33 logical segments with lots of pertinent information. I have read that the average pilgrim the starts in St. Jean Pied-de-Port finshes the Camino in 28 days so that is my goal, but I would be delighted with the 33 day journey as well.

More Help!

I read this journal of Hape Kerkrling's Camino before I left Camarillo. It was both funny and informative.

The best help though has come from our old friend Jason Johnson who walked the Camino last Summer and from his brother-in-law, Kyle Chorley, who walked it in last Fall. We been able to really discuss things in detail and their first hand knowledge has proven to be invaluable!

My Camino starts in St. Jean Pied-de-Port on Friday, 27 August bright and early in the morning. The first day, by all acounts will be the toughest. Day 1 takes me from an elevation of 170 meters/558 feet in St. Jean Pied-de-Port over the Pyrennes Mountains where I will walk through the summit town of Col de Lepoeder, Spain, elevation 1,450 meters/4,758 feet! The rest of the Camino takes place in northern Spain.

That is a climb of a little over 20 kilometers/12.5 miles with an elevation change of 1,280 meters/ 4,200 feet. From Col de Lepoeder, the day ends with another 4+ kilometers/2.5 miles downhill to the village of Roncesvalles, elevation 950 meters/3,117 feet. The uphill is tough while the short downhill walk I have read can be dangerous for the tired traveller.

Now, the hardest part in preparation is what to take and what to leave behind, as I must CARRY everything I need for almost 500 miles. I'm taking my black JanSport backpack, three dry fit T-shirts, three dry fit boxers, three pairs of shorts, three pairs of white sox, one poncho, one light weight nylon shell only pants, a hat, one pair of walking shoes, a pair of flip-flops, a towel, some basic toiletries, a small mag-lite and my Nikon camera. Oh yes, and I will also be luggng my journal and Camino Guide book.

That's it. Travel light, it is a long walk!

I can't imagine why Laurie doesn't want to go with me?

Since I will not be taking my Mac laptop computer, the blog will be somewhat sporadic as I will be at the mercy of Internet cafés or lack of same as I travel. Pictures will have to wait until I finish my Camino I think.

As for The Search for Spiritual Enlightenment, I simply don't know. When I was doing a lot of nature walking before Laurie got here, I did have ample time to reflect on my life's high and low points, the people I've helped and the ones I've hurt. I am sure there will be a lot of time for this to continue on the Camino.

Buen Camino!


Sil said...

Buen Camino!
You are going to hear that often on your camino!
Take it easy the first few days George; don't rush, don't get all competitive and try to pass every overweight, older, female, smaller peregrino you see on the path!! Just walk your own walk.
Late August/September is a lovely time to walk the camino - it is harvest time, the heat and crowds have dissipated, there shouldn't be too much rain and the albergues won't be as crowded as they were in August.
Pilgrim greetings!

George said...


I AM the overweight, older peregrino but I know that I will not even think about getting off the 33 day plan until after the first 5 days, MODERATION IN ALL CAMINO THINGS!

Thanks for any and all tips that you can give me.

Is 28 days really the average Camino?


Terry said...

Hey George - I wish you all the best on your walk. I must confess it is something I have been thinking about since Jason and Christie told me about their ventures.