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Walking the camino in January

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by JwRees, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. JwRees

    JwRees New Member

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    Dear all. I plan to walk the camino in January. Has any had experience of walking in the winter, particularly access to albergues, and what items to take. With respect to the latter I have heard that individuals have slept on church floors, in which case should one take a sleeping mat. Lastly, in my second week I would like to begin completing what could be termed double stages. That is to say cerca 40/45km a day if possible. Has anyone attempted this? Are there logistical issues i.e. booking the albergue ahead? Many thanks.
     
  2. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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    Since no replies I'll venture one. I have walked in December but not in January, which will be colder. You did not specify which Camino. January (and December) are the wettest months. Temps vary depending where you walk, could you be more specific?















     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  3. JwRees

    JwRees New Member

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    Dear John. Thanks for that - although the information included on your email; towns and temperatures is different from your post on the forum. The route I plan to take is the well-trod St-John Pied-de-Port, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon to Santiago. I'm not too concerned about the climate in general, but more worried about access to albergues / churches, particularly whether one has to sleep on the floor, as this directly affect what I pack, or don't pack. Secondly, is the issue of walking a stage and a bit or even double stages. The book I have Pombo, A., 2011. El Camino de Santiago en tu Mochila. Spain: Anaya Touring. It is structured in such as way that, for example, day three is stage three. I wondered what would happen if I began to complete a stage and half, and what your experience of this is. Lastly, how would 'booking' the albergue ahead work? I'm guessing at best this could be done before leaving an albergue in the morning, and at worst organised when arriving in town having finished walking for the day.
    Best
    Jonathan
     
  4. doctor_robert

    doctor_robert New Member

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    I walked in Feb. Usually 5-10 other peregrinos around, but there were a few nights alone. Usually there was one albergue open per town, but sometimes they would all be closed so you had to walk farther. I never saw a full albergue, but if it was full I am sure they would help in finding other accomodation so no reservations needed. It is good to try and call ahead to see what is open. There was no sleeping on church floors since most of them were locked. Next time I am going to bring an ultralight tent and sleeping pad so I don't have to worry about where I am going to sleep. The extra weight really isn't that bad since the camino is mostly flat. I brought a 0 deg C sleeping bag and enjoyed it very much. The heat in albergues can be anything from good to nonexistant so be prepared for the worst.

    As far as doing double stages that depends on how quickly you walk. I didn't like walking without sunlight because the markings can be very confusing. With very few pilgrims around you are entirely dependent on the markings and the bar owners love to mark the way to their bars. It all depends on how quick you walk, if you need the sun, how late you walk, etc. I did 40 my last day so it is doable.
     
  5. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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    As for albergues, some will be closed but you will almost always find one available. That was the case for me. If I found it closed I just inquired about the key and someone always came and unlocked the albergue. Sometimes I was alone. On the Via de la Plata in December I was told often at the village that they had not seen a pilgrim in weeks but always unlocked the albergue for me and I left the key wherever they instructed me to do so. I always had a bed each night and every albergue had heat and, important for me, plenty of hot water, a special plus since there will have been no crowds ahead of you to have used it all up!

    Your guide book is in Spanish, the exact same as mine, incidentally, so you speak the language. As I recall.someone at the village Ayuntamiento often had access to the albergue key. So, just ask anyone.

    There is no advance 'booking' for Spanish albergues. The stages in all guide books are there just for helping you plan and are in no way meant to be followed to the letter. Some can go further than a stage and some can do less. Even you will go much further on the latter stages of your journey when your legs and feet have been hardened and any excess weight from tummy flab is gone. On the Camino Frances, there are so many albergues now that you can stop in about any village you would care to, so your daily mileage is what you would wish it to be. I have never slept on a church floor and have never bothered taking a sleeping pad and have never needed one.

    Just remember that the winter months are the wettest months and it is a cold, windy rain that can last, intermittently, for days on end so be prepared for it with whatever your choice of rain gear is. In the higher elevations, that rain turns to slush and snow, not so good for comfortable, casual walking but it does speed up one's forward pace considerably, staying warm!

    Good luck,
    Ultreia e Suseia, as the original guidebook, codex Calixtinus commented, which, incidentally, only listed only 13 stages to Santiago.
     
  6. JwRees

    JwRees New Member

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    Many thanks John. Your advice is invaluable for the small things that are not mentioned in the guides and can quickly become major problems along the route. I've already made the decision not to take a sleeping pad.
     
  7. JwRees

    JwRees New Member

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    Many thanks for that Dr. Robert. I'm guessing that one can walk 9am - 5pm (the daylight hours) if one wanted. My plan by the second week is to walk from 9am - 1ish then lunch then 2 until five. During my walking time I'll probably stop off for a coffee, bocadillo etc so 6 hours a day is doable.
     
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