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Thoughts On Hiking With My 10yo Son

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by lennfamily, Feb 16, 2018.

  1. lennfamily

    lennfamily New Member

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    So I am starting the beginning planning stages of doing the camino with my son. He is 9yo now, and we'll be targeting 2019. For a little background we are avid backpackers, and as long as we keep the elevation gain less than about 700m or so a day he can already do 20km days very consistently with light pack on. He's very knowledgeable about foot care, food intake, water, etc, and is unlike a lot of children in that he is exceptional communicating the difference between tired, this hurts because I'm tired, or something is genuinely wrong. Him I'm not worried about I guess is what I'm getting at.

    My question is I'm trying to find a balance of not too many people, but I also need the ability to take shorter days for him if needed. If I had my way I'd take the most desolate camino possible, but I'd like to get him as much culture, locations, monuments, etc. as possible. We are NOT experienced on international travel so this will be a big adventure and learning experience for me in that way as well.

    Any additional information on the different routes with children would be greatly appreciated as well. I'm also curious about the general consensus about the attitude of taking children on the trail. Is it frowned upon for other reasons than just people don't think they're strong enough. If that's the only concern then I have no worries, but I also don't want to offend anyone or put ourselves in a negative light if it's frowned upon for spiritual or other reasons. Thanks for any insight.
     
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  2. MichaelSG

    MichaelSG Active Member

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    On my walks (listed in my signature below), I have not met a lot of young children walking but there were certainly some - maybe only 5 on our Camino Frances and less on others. I think it would be a fantastic experience for the child and parent. At 10 years old, I can not believe anyone else would mind at all that he is also in the albergue or on the trail. I would bet that a lot of people from all over the world would be thrilled to speak with him.

    The main concern that I could think of is making the reaching of Santiago (or some other destination) the most important thing. If you get into your walk and 15km days work out to be the best possible, then don't worry. Adjust your plan and keep going. You may decide to just finish before your planned final destination or taking a bus to skip some sections. You decide based on how things are going on the Camino. You can include your son in the decision but it shouldn't be putting pressure on him to sick to the pre-planned distances. Flexibility will make your walk a fantastic experience.

    Finally, I don't know how long you plan to be on the trail but the Frances is the only full Camino that offers maximum flexibility on stage distances. The Portugues north of Porto is pretty similar. The gronze.com and https://godesalco.com/plan websites will help show the distances between places to stay on different routes. Whatever you choose, Buen Camino!
     
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  3. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Lennfamily - What a great opportunity you’ll have walking with your son. Although I, too, did not meet a lot of young people on the Camino, those that I did were doing well and having an experience of a lifetime. I just arrived in Oaxaca, Mexico this morning with my twelve year old grandson. This is now his third international trip with me including backpacking in Guatemala just last summer. From your description of your son, he sounds like the type of young person you’ll enjoy sharing the trail with. Michael above raised the question of how long do you have to walk. I agree with him that concluding your Camino in Santiago would really be a capstone to this father/son pilgrimage. With that said, if you weren’t planning on doing the entire 500 mile Camino Francés, you could join it at other starting points other than SJPP. The other Camino that I’ve walked is the northern Portugués beginning in Porto. That’s a great two week Camino or less depending on how many miles you cover each day. We walked it at the end if March and almost had it to ourselves. My wife and I are walking the Inglés on to Finisterre in a little over a month from now and the duration of that hike will be similar to our Portugués pilgrimage last year. So, once you decide on your timeframe, there are a number of options plus more others might mention. The websites Michael mentions above will help you plan distances and accommodations. It’s a very exciting time you and your son have ahead of you. It’s really something to look forward to, both the planning and the walking. Buen Camino!
     
  4. lennfamily

    lennfamily New Member

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    Thank you for the input Michael. I will look into the elevation profile of the Frances route as I think that will have the biggest deciding factor. He's also growing so quickly in his ability that I'm sure by next year it will be much easier for him as well. Might I ask your opinion on what is the "ideal" distance to be getting per day? I'm sure we'll have days where we do more and some where we do less, but it would be good to get an idea of what most people cover in a day.

    - Nick
     
  5. lennfamily

    lennfamily New Member

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    Thank you! I think we should be able to take 3-4 weeks. I'd really like to do the full 500mi as I think the experience would be amazing for both of us to share together. I've done distance backpacking before and I also feel like you need to get past that 2 week mark to really get into a good rhythm and really get to know yourself and what your body can do.

    BTW... your grandson is a very lucky young man. I didn't have any grandparents or a father to do this stuff with so I'm starting the trend with me!
     
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  6. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    If you do decide to walk the entire 500 miles, keep in mind the time it takes to cover that much ground. I walked the CF in 31 days. It was too fast! No rest days! The next time I do this route, I will definitely take a few rest days along The Way. If you don’t already have a copy, pick up Brierley’s guide to the Camino Francés. Along with the websites Michael shared with you, it will give you a good idea of how you might want to break up your trek. But, you are correct about the rythym that develops as one walks long distances. It will be an amazing experience, but I would recommend the buffer, whether you need it or not, of rest days as you plan things out. I look forward to hearing more about this as it materializes. Buen Camino!
     
  7. lennfamily

    lennfamily New Member

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    See those are the kind of comments I was hoping to hear. Just because one CAN do something in a certain amount of time or coverage so many km's per day doesn't mean that's the "best" way to do the camino. I will likely NOT be able to take more than 4 weeks so considering I'll have a couple days travel on either end, and wanting to leave us with some buffer days then maybe we'll look at the coastal route. We don't particularly "need" the comfort of the crowds or others as a lot of our backpacking history has been done with just the two of us for numerous days without seeing anyone.
     
  8. danvo

    danvo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    @lennfamily I walked whole Camino Frances up to Muxia and Finisterra with my 13y old son. Totally no problem. Of course, very important is physical training, my son is playing football, so he is very well trained. He was able to walk from Saint Jean to Roncesvalles in one day (!). We meet a woman with son from Denmark, her son was 14y old. Best of all was family from South America with 5 children on the way.
    My son carried only his clothes and sleeping bag, so light backpack. Camino Frances is very good for planning, because there are albergues every few kms (except first day, if you want to stop in Orrisson, you must book it in advance). My recommendation-try to walk with your son one long walk (more than 20km), you will see if he is able to walk it. Height profile of CF is good, if he will pass Pyrenees, it will be ok up to Santiago.
     
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  9. MichaelSG

    MichaelSG Active Member

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    Nick, my wife and I found about 25km (15 miles) to be ideal for us. That is a fairly normal distance for many people I have spoken to on the Caminos. Obviously, I don't know what would be best for you all. That said, the Camino from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago is 800km (500 miles). At 25km/day, that is 32 days of walking which will likely make it impossible to do with your current timing. I suggest that if you really need to stick to a shorter timeframe, estimate your probable daily average and work backwards from a starting point from there. I suggest that is much more satisfying say that "we walked from Logrono to Santiago" than "we walked from France to Santiago except for the Meseta which we took a bus to cross" or something similar.

    With the timing that you suggest and your other comments, you may want to consider the Primitivo from Oviedo. It's 316km (200 miles) and more consistently hilly in the first half but can likely be done in 13-16 days. It's the most beautiful Camino that I have done so far, ends in Santiago and has far fewer pilgrims but still a great mix of nationalities. After you reach Santiago, then you can have time for several options like walking to Finisterre, to Muxia, to both, to either or both and return to Santiago. That flexibility will allow you to add 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 days easily. I have not walked to the coast yet either (I'm saving that for my last Camino) but I am told that this is a highlight for many who have walked other routes.

    So many choices!
     
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