Tony and Molli strolled into O’Cebreiro yesterday afternoon. They had put down a 23 mile day. Understandably the elevation gain had taken its toll. We were all pretty whipped. The three of us and Michael from Ireland had dinner together. It was good to catch up.
The views from O’Cebreiro were amazing. Perched on top of a mountain you can see the foothills and valleys on either side for miles.
Sleep was restless last night. The bed at the Hostal I was staying at was nothing short of a pile of rusty springs and no padding between them and I. I awoke every half an hour having to roll over as some part of my body had fallen asleep.
T&M and I hit the trail at 7 this morning. The guide books indicated the day would be flat follwrd by mostly down hill. The uphill portions might have been overlooked. There were a few good climbs on the first half of the day.
We hiked together half the day. T&M plan to finish the morning of the 3rd so they can attend a special mass in Santiago. I am going to follow the Brierley guide and finish out the hike with low mileage days. To finish by Friday morning, they are looking at some 20 mile days. I’m uninterested. Their flight also leaves on the 8th. Mine not until the 9th.
I am 90% certain I’m going to hike the additional three days to Finisterre. It would be a shame to not complete the last 48 miles of Spain. If I complete it, I will have walked across an entire country. A cool accomplishment.
83 miles lie between me and Santiago. I don’t wish to finish early and have several days idle. I’m already counting down the days to going home. Sitting around with nothing to do would make the last few days in Spain vastly less enjoyable. So, I plan to take my time, and enjoy my remaining days.
It’s fascinating the vastly different experiences people have on the Camino. Some people are injured or have so many blisters they can barely walk. Others can’t wait to finish and return home as the food and culture aren’t to their liking. Some have found that long thru hiking simply isn’t for them. And then there are those who loved the experience. I fall into the later category.
My husband recently made the comment to his Father that my long distance solo hiking days are over after this hike. He might want to get his shoes ready. While I don’t desire to do long hikes alone in the future, I did enjoy the long endurance piece of this trip.
We have already discussed coming back to the Camino and completing it on bikes. I know this is something he would enjoy.
I have received huge dividends for my efforts on this trip and I hope to share the experience with others.
The Camino is not easy. It’s physically and emotionally demanding. The guidebooks do a disservice to many pilgrims. The trek is significantly more difficult than they let on. Perhaps their reserve to printing its true nature serves not to dissuade would-be pilgrims. A little better warning might serve people better.
By no means am I trying to dissuade anyone from undertaking the Camino Frances. I would simply impart this warning, if you underestimate this hike, it will kick your ass. If you are a seasoned endurance athlete or spend a significant amount of time walking each week, you have an idea of what you’re getting into. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, do some research and physical preparation in advance. It will provide for a much more enjoyable experience.
Many blogs (including my own to some extent) paint a rosy picture of daily life on the Camino. It is rewarding and worth doing. Also understand there are days that absolutely suck. You’re sore, tired, your feet hurt, you’re hungry, and it’s raining. The last thing you want to do is put on your hiking shoes and walk out the door. But that’s what you’re here for.
In confronting your desire to quit or take a few days off, and hiking anyway, you learn a tremendous amount about yourself. You find inner strength. You never feel quite as alive as when you suffer. And there will be days you suffer.
Now that I’ve provided a reasonable amount of warning, anyone still interested in hiking the Camino or doing another long distance hike… Go do it. The experiences are invaluable. When planning your trip, go into it with as few expectations as possible and your rewards will be tremendous. Do your research and go for it We rarely regret in life what we try. We always regret the things we never gave a try.