Each time I go on a major adventure, I am glad I have put in the effort and preparations to go, yet I never know if I will be able to go again for so many reasons. It is a lot of work to prepare and leave things in good order for my return. Each trip is very different. Sometimes it seems so long ago that I have traveled because so much happens in such a short time in my daily life. I do not worry when I am in the midst of an adventure, but I am always deeply concerned before I go. That is one reason I prepare so carefully. Life has risks and I take them seriously.
This time I will be walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I am not traveling by tour, so the planning is quite time-consuming but rewarding. I will be off to Belgium and France for short day tours. Then I will travel by train to southern France and by bus to St Jean Pied de Port. There I begin my walk. I do not know how long it will take me to walk the 500 miles of el Camino—probably two months—and the rest of the time will be visiting Belgium & France before the walk, and staying in Portugal after I finish.
I am traveling very light, for everything I take must be carried in my backpack, every day, for 7 to 8 weeks. I will not carry a tent as I did for 4 months when I hiked the Appalachian Trail solo. I will go light, as weight defeats a hiker.
I began thinking about this walk in late fall of last year. Before that I had never heard of it. A couple of weeks ago I watched the movie, The Way, which is about walking the Camino de Santiago trail.
Walking the Camino will be very different for me. It will be daily walks along the trail, stopping at albergues (pilgrims’ hostels) each night. Many people walk this trail as a pilgrimage. For me, it will be a pilgrimage in memory of my son Michael.
Each day the sights will be very historic. This trail is the way of St. James, which is several thousand years old. Ancient Celts walked this way, Romans built a road on this trail, and then Crusaders walked the trail.
It will be a great adventure. There will be many people on this trail as I walk it. There will be interesting churches to pray in, cafes to eat at, and country people to stop and say, “Hola.”
Spain is the third largest country in Europe, and the trail goes from one side of the country across to the other side, ending at the Atlantic Ocean. I will cross the Pyrenees Mountains, the vast treeless central plateau, and the Cordillera Cantabrica mountain range to the west, with wet climate and much rainy weather from the west side to the end.
There will be animals and nature and different types of vegetation. I will be going through wine country at harvest time. Although it may be hot in August, there may still be snow in the mountains at higher elevations.
I am looking forward to seeing the Spanish people and eating the native food again. It is my third trip to Spain but my first hiking trip there.
I am excited to depart because you only live once and I have no regrets about anything I have ever done. Each step is a new learning experience. This will be a great adventure!
-August 19, 2014