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Planning My First Camino In June 2017

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Jackie Allatson, Dec 26, 2016.

  1. Jackie Allatson

    Jackie Allatson New Member

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    Just joined the forum and thought I'd say 'hi'
    I'm planning on walking my first Camino in June 2017 after deciding on becoming the change I want to see in 2017. Anyone else going at the same time? I have absolutely no idea what to expect and think this is a brilliant site to ask questions and share info ☺️ Looking forward to the future x
     
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  2. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi Jackie and welcome to the forum – You have indeed found the right place to discover more about Camino Walking and to gather info to enable you to plan your own Camino :)

    With that in mind, perhaps the first thing to mention is that there is more than one Camino and picking which one you want to walk will be your first challenge – Many people (Including myself) start off my walking The Camino Frances as this is by far the most popular route and therefore has the most sophisticated infrastructure which includes lots of options of places to stay as well as systems for having your rucksack transported for you and a Varity of great guidebooks – Other popular Camino’s include The Camino Norte, The Camino Portuguese, The Camino Aragones, The Via de la Plata, The Camino Primitivo, The Cami San Juan (1 and 2), The Camino Sureste, The Camino Mozrabe etc etc, - I have been privileged to walk several Camino’s myself and have written up trek notes and posted photos at http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/50192/b2/

    Usually the first consideration is your timeframe as once you have worked out how many days you are going to allow yourself to walk your first Camino, then people on here will be able to advise you on which Camino might be the best one for you to choose.

    I am sure that this will be the first of many questions that you have and I look forwards to trying to advise you to my best ability

    Best Regards

    Rob
     
  3. Jackie Allatson

    Jackie Allatson New Member

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    Hi Rob, thanks for the reply. I'm aiming to take around a month, so was thinking the Camino Frances as my first walk. I'm a bit concerned though as I have crappy ankles and suffer with pain and swelling after walking any distance but I'm not letting this fact deter me! I'll be investing in some sturdy, ankle-supporting walking boots and taking anti inflammatories with me too
     
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  4. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Donating Member Donating Member

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    It might be a little cooler if you can start in May, but you should have a great walk. If you start in Saint Jean, be sure to stop at the pilgrim office and get your as pasdport stamped. Also get their information on the way to Ronscevalles.

    Crossing the Pyrenees is not easy and the decent in to Rochevalles is steep if you make the error that I did and go down through the forest. The Pilgrim office recommends avoiding the forest and staying on the road. If you anticipate ankle problems it might be reasonable to stay at Orisson and have your pack transported for you by Jacko Trans. Then carry a minimum day pack with water and food for the day.
     
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  5. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hi Jackie - When you say you're planning on taking around a month, I hope you're thinking on being on the long side of the month. I walked the CF in 31 days which was quicker than most pilgrims do. I would have liked to have gone a bit slower. If you examine Brierley's book, you'll see that he breaks up this Camino into 33 stages. Keep rest days in mind as well! Many plan rest days in Pamplona, Burgos, and Leon. Ideally, you can get to SJPP a day before you walk so as to rest up from your trip there. Plus, try to stay a day in Santiago upon completion of your Camino. Ideally, I would recommend, minimally, a 38 day pilgrimage. With "crappy" ankles with "pain and swelling", rest days should absolutely be considered. A friend of mine had to abandone the Camino after Day 14 in Hontanas due to a foot problem. Don't underestimate the physical toll a 500-mile walk takes on the body. Train for your Camino!
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
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  6. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Again Jackie - UnkleHammy makes a number of really good points in his post.

    1. May is a great month to walk the Camino. However, it is also one of the most popular and busiest. You will see a real mix of weather from hot to wet to just right!

    2. The Pilgrim's Office in SJPP has some excellent information. They advised me NOT to take the path through the woods after crossing the Pyrenees and I took their advice. Although it added on another 1.5 kms. to my walk, my tired body was very glad to have stayed on the road instead of having taken the very tough trek through the woods.

    3. You need to figure out how many days you have to walk the CF. Orisson, just 8 kms. out of SJPP is really only an option if a) you have an extra day in your itinarary, or b) you arrive in SJPP in the morning and do your first night in Orisson instead of Saint Jean. As there are only 28 beds in Orisson, most pilgrims walk the entire distance to Roncesvalles in one day. If you decide to stay in Orisson, a reservation is required.

    4. Crossing the Pryenees is not easy, but it will be your greatest single sense of accomplishment on the Camino. Being in the very best shape possible will make a long, hard day just a bit easier.

    Buen Camino!
     
  7. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Active Member

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    Jackie, I agree with the other camino veterans that completing Camino Frances in one month would be quite a challenge, particularly if you have crappy / swollen ankles. If you are limited to 30 or 31 days, you can consider beginning your camino a few stages later, such as Pamplona.

    If you decide to start in SJPDP, you might consider taking the alternate route, which passes through Valcarlos. There are a few small towns along the way and the climb is not as ferocious as the Napoleon route.

    During our October, 2015 camino, my wife and I hiked the Napoleon route. She developed blisters the first day. As our camino progressed, the blisters continued and this caused her to alter her hiking style. She developed knee and ankle pain - when we returned to the US, she learned that she had developed two stress fractures. Fortunately, after 10 days, she began shipping her backpack ahead via Jako Trans. With daily doses of ibuprofen and bandaids for her feet, we were successful in completing our camino.

    We will walk Camino Frances again next September. She now has a pair of Soloman trail running shoes which are more comfortable than the Vasque hiking boots she used a year ago. She also has "Superfeet" liners, and toe socks. We will walk the Valcarlos route this time and she will begin shipping her backpack ahead everyday, starting in SJPDP.
     
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  8. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Jackie - You've already received some good advice in just a short period of time on the Forum. Depending on your day count for being in the Camino, Bob's suggestion of starting in Pamplona is one you should consider. With the description of your ankles that you gave plus only about a month to walk the CF, this might not turn out quite as you expect. The trek from SJPP to Roncesvalles is challenging. If you look at an altitude map, it's uphill for 20 kms. with an elevation change of nearly 1300 meters. This is folowed by 5-7 kms. downhill depending on the route your take. Even if you ship your pack via JacoTrans, which I would highly recommend, you still have a long, hard day ahead if you to reach the albergue in Roncesvalles. You then have two more solid days of walking over rolling hills before you reach Pamplona. My fear is that you might not go further due to what sounds like a serious ankle condition before you even start.

    Realistically, I don't see you completing the CF in a month. In addition to your walk days, I would highly recommend that you plan rest days as well which will reduce the total number of kilometers you can walk within your time frame. Therefore, it seems like there might be three different options to consider if you only have a month for your Camino:

    1. Start in SJPP not expecting to complete the entire Camino and plan to come back at a later time to finish your walk. Go at your own pace knowing that your goal is simply as far as you can go and enjoy every day on the Camino.

    2. Similarly, start in Pamplona with the same goal of going as far as you can. With only 30 days on the Camino, and if you build rest days into your walk, you may still not be able to make it all the way to Santiago, although Sarria seems reasonable, but you could come back at a later time to finish up the last segment.

    3. With your timeframe and anticipated going a bit slower rather than faster, let me recommend that you look at the Camino Portugués beginning in Porto. Doing this walk to Santiago would also allow you the time to continue on to Finisterre and Muxía at a much more relaxed and reasonable pace.
     
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  9. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi again Jackie

    No Problem, Pleased to be of help :)

    It’s difficult to say whether The Camino Frances is the “Right” Camino for you, especially when you now say that you “have crappy ankles and suffer with pain and swelling after walking any distance”

    Perhaps you should either try something a little shorter for your first Camino, or if you are determined to give The Camino Frances a go, then do some training (Start off with day walks and maybe build up to at least some long weekends walking with back to back walks carrying the same size and weight rucksack that you intend to take on Camino with you – Otherwise you are setting yourself up to both fail and perhaps even do yourself some serious damage in the process)

    Also, allow yourself more time !!
    Alternatively, you could do what I did and split the walk into two sections, start where you want to at Saint Jean Pied de Port and simply walk as far as you get on the first one, then return another year to continue / complete your walk – You might even extend it to Finisterra and Muxia if you take this option.

    Or – As mentioned in my earlier reply, at least take a look at the other Camino’s and see what they have to offer

    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
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  10. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Jackie - As you can see from the responses so far, your "crappy" ankle through up a red flag! No one here wants to see you fail! If this is a chronic problem and if swelling and pain are regular outcomes after "walking any distance," speak with your physician about your intentions and let her be part of your planning process. Being realistic is very important! As several of us have mentioned, training for the Camino is important. You need to be in the best physical shape possible for day after day after day hiking over varied terrain. However, addressing a medical condition is a totally different matter and one that you probably need to evaluate first and then figure out the appropriate way to get ready for long distsnce hiking. I'm confident that your health care professionals can assist you and help you better understand your parameters for a successful Camino.
     
  11. Tina-Marie Brownie

    Tina-Marie Brownie Active Member

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    You can do it Jackie, I believe in you. Buen Camino.
     
  12. Jantina

    Jantina New Member

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    I am going end of april/ May. My first time too. I do have a couple of friends who have walked it some several times. They have given me a lot of advice. First and foremost: Get some good shoes and get used to walking long distance. If your body is used to walking for hours and hours, you will (hopefully) have less physical problems.
     
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  13. Jantina

    Jantina New Member

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    What are these "Jacko Trans"? Does anybody know what they charge?
     
  14. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hi Jantina - JacoTrans is a baggage transport company that works the length of the Camino. You simply leave your pack at your albergue and they pick it up that morning and deliver it to your next albergue. The one time I used it last spring, the charge was €6 a bag. So, if you have a reservation ahead for that night, you just fill out an envelop, put your Euros inside, and leave it with your hospitalero. I would suggest that you have a small day pack with you so as to carry a few essentials. It's a very effecient system that you can have full confidence in.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2016
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  15. Jantina

    Jantina New Member

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    I am planning on using this service. Can you book it in advance or do you just leave your bag with money every day.
     
  16. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Jantina - You have received some very good advice from your friends. Let me just add a couple thoughts to what they have already told you.

    1. In addition to getting a good shoe, be sure to break it in well. A year ago, I was in the same position you are in. I wore my hiking shoes as much as possible to get them ready for the Camino.

    2. Plan on getting equally good socks so go along with your shoes. Although I'm going with a high quality toe sock this year, there are many good moisture wicking-type socks on the market.

    3. Do get used to walking. When your schedule allows, do walks back to back on consecutive days. As you walk the Camino day after day, you will find that there's a cummulative fatigue factor.

    4. Walk wearing your backpack. The first three days into Pamplona may be the most tiresome as you are not yet acclimated to so much walking with a pack. It does, however, get easier! Don't forget to pack some ibuprofen.

    5. Related to the last point, keep your pack weight as low as possible. For my first Camino, I had trouble discerning between "essential" and "extras". There's not much that you really need on the Camino. On this Forum and elsewhere, you can find some excellent, minimalist packing lists. Be very selective!

    6. Finally, train for your Camino. Walking is great, but I'm a big fan of cross-training. Run, bike, go to the gym, or do any type of activity that conditions your entire body and builds cardiovascular fitness as well. Being in top shape will help ensure an excellent Camino.
     
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  17. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Jantina - No need to reserve in advance. Your hospitalero will let Jacotrans know there are bags to be picked up. At any given albergue, a number of people use this service every day. They will just ask you to have your bag ready by a certain time. As you may not have all your bed reservations made in advance and as plans can change along The Way, it's best and easiest just to do the transfer day by day.
     
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  18. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Active Member

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    Jantina, we used Jako Trans to transport my wife's backpack the last three weeks of our camino. We called ahead to private albergues each afternoon to make a reservation for the next evening. This assured a firm location for transport of the backpack. Then we called Jako Trans and confirmed to them the same information that is on the small envelopes in the albergue - my wife's name, the name of the town and albergue we were staying in. As Wily noted, the next morning we advised the hospitalera that we had a bag to transport and he/she told us where to place the backpack. We never had a problem.
     
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  19. Jackie Allatson

    Jackie Allatson New Member

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    Thanks everyone for all your advice. I was told to stop road running a couple of years ago as the impact made my ankles and feet swell, hence the 'crappy swollen feet and ankles' as mentioned above! I'm not decrepit however(!) and I do plan to do a bit of training beforehand. I'm going to get some lightweight mid-height boots as the ones I have are far too heavy. What boots do people recommend? I'm looking at Merrell Azura mid boots and some proper walking socks. Also, what do you consider as 'essential' kit to take along? Is there a list somewhere? My month might have to be extended by the sounds of things.....or I might cut it in two as suggested and spend longer on each half....not sure yet, but great to hear from you all and benefit from all your experience x
     
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  20. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Donating Member Donating Member

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    Look through the many posts on this site. Magwood had a reasonable list for females.
     
  21. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Jackie - Under the "What equipment should you use and take" section on the homepage of this Forum, Laurie Ferris has a couple excellent posts regarding her gear and recommendations for the Camino. Between Magwood and Laurie, you should have a pretty good idea as to the "essentials" you'll need.
     
  22. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Jackie - I like your choice of the Merrills for the Camino. Although I prefer to wear a low hiking shoe, your choice of a mid boot would be better for your ankles. In an earlier post, BrownCounty Bob mentioned the Superfeet inserts. I, too, use these inserts in both my trail running shoes and my Merrills. Although they're a bit more expensive than a Dr. Scholls, the better quality and support they give are worth paying for. As you have a bit of time before your Camino, try out a pair of the Injinji Toe Socks. As you'll find out, preparing for your Camino is almost half the fun!
     
  23. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Donating Member Donating Member

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    And more than half the cost. If you have to travel a distance to get there and back.
     
  24. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi again Jackie

    No Problem – Pleased to be of help :)

    With your latest question about footwear – I believe that this comes down to personal choice with a lot of people having different ideas, some opting for boots while others walk The “Way” in trail runners.

    Personally, I use boots and go for lightweight fabric “Gortex” type as these let your feet breath so they tend not to get too hot and sweaty when the weather is good, but also keep them dry when it rains (When it rains I tend to walk wearing a single shell “Gortex” jacket, shorts, gaiters and the boots, the rainwater then runs off the bottom of the jacket, down my bare legs and over the gaiters and boots, this helps to prevent the rainwater wicking down my socks and into my boots giving me wet feet that way) – They also don’t really require any looking after en-route (Polishing etc)

    My latest pair are made my Lowa and I walked my Big Camino from my home in Cumbria to Santiago de Compostela wearing these and didn’t get a single blister – The walk was 1,000 miles :)

    But having said that, I wouldn’t get too hung up on a particular brand, just go to a professional outdoor shop and keep trying different boots on until you find a pair that feel good, then test them and test them again so that they are well broken in before heading off on your Camino



    Then, as already mentioned, you also have to pick a good sock combination and this again will come down to trial and error – For many years I used a combination of Bridgedale liners and Thulo outers and these worked quite well, then on my Big Camino I was given some aptly named 1,000 milers and I found these to be excellent as already mentioned, walked 1,000 miles without a single blister.



    Jantina – Just a heads up on the transportation of your rucksack on Camino – All the companies that I saw offering this service left the “Bags” unattended, often in hotel lobbies or the entrances of Refugio’s, so if you are thinking of using one of these companies to transport your own rucksack, then you should make sure that it is secure before you drop it off in the morning. You might find one of my Rucksack Pro-Tector’s (Which I have ethically produced in Nepal) useful for this task http://www.pro-tector.co.uk/rucksack.html



    Good Luck and Buen Camino

    Rob
     
  25. Jantina

    Jantina New Member

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    Thanks Willy. I am leaving for Costa Rica next week and plan to go backpacking there for about 7 days. I walk as much as I can. I have good shoes (Salomon Ultra X). I found some make names of sock but have not been able to locate them. I am practicing as much as I can with my busy work schedule (12 or more hours a day on my feet) This will get less over the next couple of months. I am so looking forwards to this trip. I still have to organize flights from and back to The Netherlands in April May. I am planning on starting in Pamplona and walk the French way from there. It is just more practical as I only have 29 days if I want to spend a day in Santiago
     
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  26. Jantina

    Jantina New Member

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    As to weight carried. I plan on using the drop bagage off service and I am a sailor, so I am already used to only bring what is really necessary.
     
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  27. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés May 2016

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    Hey Jantina - Good plan! I like your idea of starting from Pamplona. I walked the Pamplona to SdC section in 28 days without an extra day at the end. You should be fine. As I am an early riser, I liked getting on the road just after the sun came up, walking in the wonderfully quite morning air for about an hour before coffee and breakfast, and almost always getting to my next albergue by early afternoon. That then gave me plenty of time to relax, wash clothes, tour the town or village, catch up with other pilgrims, and get ready for the next day. One develops a very nice routine on the Camino.

    Just one other thought. Pamplona was one of my favorite cities along The Way. If you can make the travel arrangements to do so, try to get into the city early so as to enjoy it a bit. The food is tremendous! If you get a chance, visit Bar Gaucho just off Plaza del Castillo for some of the best tapas/pintxos in town. Enjoy Costa Rica!
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
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  28. Gerry Vandermaat

    Gerry Vandermaat Donating Member Donating Member

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    G'day jackie. Best wishes for your Camino. It will be wonderful.
     
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  29. Gerry Vandermaat

    Gerry Vandermaat Donating Member Donating Member

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    Don't worry Jackie. I had crappy knees and still made it. I used walking poles and they were a great help.
     
  30. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Active Member

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    Hi Jackie and Jantina and welcome to the forum.

    I see you have already been given plenty of good advice so I won't repeat it all. Essentially it is all about picking the right footwear, travelling as light as possible, not overreaching and planning a Camino that suits you. Do not feel that you have to take any particular route or travel any particular distance (other than walking the last 100 kms to Santiago to get the Compostela). Take lots of time to look around the forum where you will find all kinds of really useful advice.

    In relation to Jaco Trans, I have used their service on a number of occasions and found them to be totally reliable. They have a website (link below) which allows you to plan your route and, if you wish, to book in advance. The advantage is that you have piece of mind know your baggage will be collected and transported safely. You can book in advance or as the other guys have said arrange it on a daily basis as it suits. The charge varies I think between €5 and €8 depending on distance.

    http://www.jacotrans.com/p/english.html

    Another company I have used for transport from Biarritz airport to St Jean is Express Bourricot (link below). They to ensure they have a large enough group to pick up at the airport and the cost depends on how many. I think there were about 8 in our group and the cost was about €18 for the trip. The advantage is that you are not hanging around the airport waiting for a bus or trying to connect by rail via Bayonne (although Bayonne is also well worth a visit). They also provide a collection service for people who want to climb beyond Orisson on the first day. They will collect you at various points and return you to St Jean (giving more choices of accommodation) and on the following day will drop you back to where you stopped. This can be a good option for those who don't think they will complete the trek to Roncesvalles on the first day but also don't want to stay at Orisson.

    http://www.expressbourricot.com/

    Any way best of luck, enjoy the planning and Buen Camino
    Greg
     
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