7 weeks until I start walking. I don’t know where the last two months have gone; I remember thinking, in March, that I needed to start getting serious about my Camino preparation. I wanted to have my flight and my shoes and my pack. I wanted to stay on top of my preparation so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed as my trip approached.
Life has just sort of gotten in the way.
This usually happens in the spring: the days are longer and lighter, the weather is warmer, everything blooms and the world is beautiful and I want to be outside, doing things.
How much have I done for the Camino, how much do I still have to do? Here’s an update:
1. Equipment: I still don’t have much. Still walking around in the first pair of shoes that I bought, still no pack. BUT, I have three pairs of Smartwool socks and they are the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn on my feet. I’ve spent years walking and hiking in cheap, thin, cotton socks, and those did no favors to my feet. Now, when I put on the Smartwool socks and start my hikes, I feel like I’m wearing soft, cushion-y slippers. Amazing.
My mom bought me a pair of hiking shorts, I have a t-shirt, and that’s about it. But I’m not too worried about getting everything I need. An afternoon of online shopping and a trip to REI and I think I’ll be set.
Speaking of REI, I went back for round 2 of shoe shopping. I only had a little time in the store before I had to be somewhere else, but it was just enough time to renew my hope and boost my spirits. I went in the evening on a weekday, and I had the shoe section to myself. The girl helping me was fantastic. We tried on more shoes, and I have a few options to think about. I’m going to bring in the pair I already have and compare those to a few other contenders. I’ll probably buy another pair to break them in and then decide on which pair I like the best. My first pair of shoes (the ones that I thought were ugly and maybe too tight for my feet) have grown on me. Maybe I’ve started to get used to the way they look, maybe I’ve broken them in and they feel more comfortable, or maybe I just get attached to things too quickly.
While I was trying on shoes, another salesperson was hanging around. At one point he came over and held a shoe out to me. “Look!” he said, pointing at the sides of the shoe, “If you ever decide to grow bunions, this shoe compensates for them!”
The other salesperson who’d been helping me gave him a hard look. “Dude, ‘if you ever decide to grow bunions’ is something you should never say to a woman.”
2. Training Hikes: I’m walking, a lot. I went on a 13 mile hike last weekend, which finally broke my 8-9 mile maximum. I’ve been wanting to do longer hikes, and it’s just been hard to find large enough chunks of time. But I’m hiking or walking most days of the week- even if they are small hikes- and already I can feel that my legs are stronger, and that I can climb hills a bit more easily than I could a month ago. If I can get a few more big hikes in before I leave, maybe do a couple big hikes back-to-back wearing my loaded pack, then I’ll be happy. I need to remember that part of the reason I’m walking the Camino is to physically challenge myself. I want to prepare, but I also expect- and want- this Camino to be hard.
3. Travel/logistics: Not much is planned. I have a flight, and I sent an email to the refuge in Orisson (which is about 10km from St Jean Pied de Port, my starting point for the Camino. If I stay the night at Orisson, I will only walk a few hours on my first day, but I think this could be a wise choice. Those 10 km are steep, and it will be a good way to ease into the Camino. Besides, somewhere I read the words, “When do you ever get a chance to spend the night in the Pyrenees?” and that made a lot of sense to me).
Otherwise, I spent about an hour looking up train schedules and times and trying to predict how long it will take me to make my way from Paris to St Jean Pied de Port. The answer? All day. I might gamble on an early train out of Paris- relying on my “knowledge” of the RER and metro to get me from the airport to Gare Montparnasse quickly- so I can get to SJPP in time to check into a hotel I’ve heard a lot about so I can experience their communal dinner. We’ll see. My head is spinning just reading that sentence. Travel plans and figuring out connections and timing is not very fun to me, but that’s also the beauty of the Camino. All I need to do is get down to SJPP, and after the first couple of nights of reserved lodging, I can just wing it the rest of the way.
So, I still have a lot to do. But in the meantime, here are a few photos of my shoes, hikes, and this beautiful spring.