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Challenges Of Doing Full Camino

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by peter griffiths, Jul 7, 2019.

  1. peter griffiths

    peter griffiths New Member

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    Hi everyone
    My first comment on this forum and wanting to get advice..

    So basically I am 58 and think I have a fairly good level of fitness for someone of my age. Usually go to the gym 1-2 times per week as well as regular short walks 1=2 times in the week(30-45 mins). Don't believe I carry much excessive weight..
    Have never done the Camino or anything like it before but had this crazy idea of not only doing the camino but doing the full camino as a sponsored event for a charity I am involved with.. Live in Sydney so, if I am flying all that way , might as well make it worth my while.!
    Now I am planning ahead and thinking I would aim to do it in 12-18 months time to allow time for training(doing regular long walks including hills etc). Not sure how I would go with it even after that , especially when I get to day 18 or 19 , am exhausted and still have many more hills and days to go! Would plan to have accomodation pre booked and my luggage transferred from each hotel to the next
    Feel excited but nervous at the thought of it.
    So my question to you all = Is this a really stupid idea?!!!
     
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  2. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Peter, congratulations on becoming a member of the Camino Forum and for preparing for your first camino. As Dave indicated, there is a wealth of information on this forum that can assist you in your preparation for your first camino. I walked my first camino frances in 2015 at age 58. Like you, I was reasonably fit, with 30 minute workouts on the treadmill or elliptical 5 days a week. My own forward planning began about 3 years prior by daily reviews of this forum and reading several helpful books (first one was Brierley's guide). I began to collect clothing and gear for my wife based on this forum. For example, Goretex rain jacket or poncho (we went with rain jacket), Trekking poles or staff (we went with trekking poles), how large a backpack to carry (Osprey Atmos 50 L for me, Osprey Kestrol 48 L for my wife), best type of shorts, pants, socks, etc.

    We were successful in hiking 500 miles from SJPDP to Santiago in 2015. We allowed 35 days, start to finish, and only took one rest day. We only made a few advance reservations and mostly stayed in municipal albergues. My wife developed blisters, which caused her to walk differently and this progressed to severe knee pain. From Carrion de los Condes on she began shipping her backpack ahead via Jako-Trans and this allowed her to walk with a small day pack and reach Santiago.

    We had such great experience, we decided to walk camino frances again in 2017. My wife purchased Soloman trail running shoes which worked much better than the hard sided Vasque boots. She shipped her backpack ahead every single day. Both caminos I carried my backpack the entire 500 miles. My brother and his wife walked with us the entire way. This time we made advance reservations in all but three or four stages and the advance reservations worked well since several days the albergues were "completo" by the time pilgrims arrived. We allowed 38 days and only took 2 rest days (Burgos and Leon). We stayed in several multi-bed ablergues, but mostly stayed in "quad rooms (2 bunk beds and private bath) and private rooms. Again, we were successful in reaching Santiago. Other than a few days of rain at the start, the weather was spectacular.

    Then we started planning for our third camino frances for this year. We leave Indianapolis Sept 16, begin walking from St Jean on Sept 20 and will arrive in Santiago Oct 26. We will hike 37 days, with no rest days. We have confirmed reservations for every night - in private rooms with private bathrooms. My wife and I had a great time walking with my brother and his wife, but this camino it's just Cindi and me walking together.

    So Pete, not a stupid idea. Soak in the excellent advice from veteran pilgrims, enjoy the planning and make it your camino!

    Bob
     
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  3. peter griffiths

    peter griffiths New Member

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    Hi Bob
    Thanks for that. I can see the benefits of not booking accommodation ahead but frankly would feel that I would need the knowledge that I have my own room booked at the end of each day whilst I slog up those hills! I will be 60 if I get around to doing it and can't hack the idea of dormitory style accommodation , plus the uncertainty of where I would be sleeping! But that leaves the problem of being locked into a schedule! Unless I schedule a rest day half way through and stay at the same place for 2 nights. But , of course , that day may not be the day that I need a break! Hard to know what to do but all this is just part of my thinking as I wonder about whether to commit to doing it.
     
  4. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    I would recommend that you train with hikes of 10-15 miles a day and plan on some "zero days" to just sit back and relax in. There are many interesting cities on the way that you should give a day or two to for general goofing off in and general sightseeing in.
     
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  5. peter griffiths

    peter griffiths New Member

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  6. peter griffiths

    peter griffiths New Member

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    I guess I'm feeling that doing the camino by prebooking accommodation and having my main bag forwarded on might be seen by some as almost ' cheating' or not being in the true spirit of the camino, Silly thought or not?
     
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  7. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    Not a silly thought. Remember that this walk is for you and no one else. What are the chances of your ever doing this again? Major cities along the way are well worth the time to become a tourist in. However as fair warning, I would like to warn you that walking the Camino is additive and you will probably want to do it again. (Even if you don't succed the first time you will want to return, I did!)
     
  8. fluffkitten

    fluffkitten Member

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    I don't think that is even close to cheating, you do what you need to do not only to enable you to walk the Camino but to get the best experience from it that you can. :)
     
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  9. keithlundy1

    keithlundy1 Active Member

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    Hello Peter
    I’m currently walking my third Camino right now, I’ve just completed day 14 so nearly half way and I’m 63 next month.
    I am using the latest John Brierley guide book and even now some of it is out of date.
    I return to England on the 3rd August and would gladly share everything I can with. The other will tell you knowledge of what you need, how to plan, what you can expect is an incredible help, so if you drop me a line after I get back I’m more that happy to answer all your questions and concerns after all you’re now one of the family. Buen Camino. Keith, Norfolk England
     
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  10. Bryan Morlock

    Bryan Morlock Pilgrim Bryan

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    Peter,

    When I got bit by the Camino bug, I started watching videos on U-Tube that people put together about their experiences. At first I was watching the scenery. Then as I watched more videos I started looking at the backpacks people had. Then I started looking at the clothes and the shoes that people wore. And then finally, I looked at the people and the kind of physical shape they were in. I was in my mid 60's when I got the bug, having lived a life of never spending much time being physically fit after I got out of the Air Force. I started seeing people doing the Camino that appeared to be much more physically fit than I was, but also some that were more overweight than I was. I started walking, with my backpack, building up distance. Then I developed a heart murmur that turned out to be a birth defect in my aortic valve. So a pig valve replacement later, and a year later than initially planned I started my Camino. I had done walking with the backpack, carrying up to 15 lbs., and was comfortably doing 9 - 10 miles per day. But I do not live in an area of the US quite a hilly as the Camino. We did the Pyrenees in two days, spending the night at Orisson. Even with that, by the time I got to Roncesvalles the next day I thought that my Camino was over. My legs were so weak I could not bend my knees or I would fall to the ground. But the next morning I got up, hurting from foot to groin, and kept going. We took our time, 39 days of walking plus one day off to get to Santiago. We made it. It took about 1 1/2 weeks for me to get my conditioning to where it should be and a 12-13 mile day seemed easy. 16 - 17 miles was a long day for us. But, we did it , carrying our backpacks the whole way. My backpack weighed 21.5 lbs. with 48 oz. of water. I already have figured out how to get it down to 18.5 lbs. for my next Camino, currently tentatively planned for 2020.

    After all of that description, my best advice is to train, train, train, and give yourself plenty of time. If you want to read the gory details of what we went through, it is all documented day-by-day at https://pilgrims4blog.wordpress.com Based on my experience I can tell you already have the bug. Now just prepare the best that you can and go for it. However you choose to do it, it is your Camino and belongs to no one else.
     
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  11. Mark Stevens

    Mark Stevens Frances 2016, Ingles 2018, Norte 2019

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  12. Lipka149

    Lipka149 Active Member Donating Member

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    Hi Peter -

    Today is the 10th anniversary of my own Camino, and I can tell you from this perspective that there is no such thing as "cheating" the Camino. There is only how you think things are going to go and how they actually happen.

    To wit, I am a meeting planner by profession. In my world, things are pre-booked, scheduled, and work exactly the way I plan them. They always do and yes, I am that good. But not without a lot of scrambling !

    It has been noted that "Man plans, God laughs".

    My Camino started out with a delayed flight, frantic transfers, pre-booking that fell through, and a disrupted start that almost ruined my experience before it even started. The initial walk out of SJpdP carrying 8kg up that hill was difficult to be sure. Staying at Orisson was not even an option when I walked, but I did stop and rest there for awhile. Going down the hill into Roncesvalles with the same 8kg was an altogether different experience. It never occurred to me that going down would be harder than going up !

    So my point is this … don't sell yourself short. Shoulder the burden of carrying your gear and understand that where you end up laying your head each night is going to end up being exactly where you need to be. You will be thankful for doing both.

    Yeah, yeah … "it's your Camino" … blah, blah, blah …

    Plan as you wish and make it as easy as you think you must, but if you give God something to work with by challenging yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I think you will get the more out of your Walk than if you don't. Even if you don't believe in God, the lesson is probably going to be the same.

    Don't be afraid to test yourself !

    Ultreya -

    ~ Alan
     
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  13. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Peter, yes, there are tradeoffs with regards to making advance reservations vs having some flexibility in your schedule. Two stories come to mind which cause us to go full in for advance reservations. During our first camino, we had an overnight planned in Najera. We arrived in town around 2 pm and headed to our preferred, private albergue. It was "completo". So we walked to the municipal albergue and checked in there. We then learned there was one, single room with 46 bunkbeds, or 92 beds total, and it was almost full. You cannot imagine the amount of snoring, farting, coughing, talking that takes place in a single room, and the poor ventilation.

    Secondly, during our 2017 camino, we made advance reservations at all but a few albergues. We stayed in a delightful albergue in Zubiri, Hostel Rio Arga. It is located right by the bridge and you can relax on an upper floor terrace and watch pilgrims coming into town. We had a private room with private bath that was terrific. A day or two later we ran into a colleague and asked him where he stayed for the night. He told us that when he arrived in Zubiri, he checked several albergues and there was not a single bed available, so he had to continue walking and spent the night in Pamplona ! There were several other towns we walked through that were "completo" by early afternoon.

    Getting a great night sleep (and not fighing others for the bathroom in the morning) are key to having a good walk the next day, as well as not having to worry about whether a bed is available. Keep in mind that if for some reason you fall behind on your schedule, you can always take a taxi or bus to the town you have a reservation to stay in your reserved room. Bob
     
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