One month until I start walking.
Man, these days are going by fast. My lofty Camino goals (Learn Spanish! Back-to-back-to-back 15 mile hikes!) have been put on the back burner. At this point, all I’m really focused on is buying a few more items, reserving a train ticket to St Jean Pied de Port, and hiking when I can.
I know that I’m not as prepared as I could be, but I think I’m prepared enough. And I still have a month to go.
4 months ago I had visions of doing lots of long hikes with my loaded pack and well worn-in shoes. The reality is that I can fit in a long hike about once a week. Because, surprise surprise, long hikes take time. They take a lot of time. (I know this is the most obvious thing, and yet, I may have underestimated just how much of my day would need to be devoted to 15 mile hikes. I just can’t fit in a 15 mile hike after a full day of work. Darkness catches up with me).
But I’m continuing to walk, a lot. I drive to the same local state park, wind my way through the same trails which I now know like the back of my hand. I’ve begun to recognize the same people, too. I try to smile and say hi to most people I pass, and now others have started to recognize me and give me friendly greetings in return.
Two days ago I passed a man and a woman as I walked along a paved loop trail. The man said, “Looks like you’re preparing for a backpacking trip!” We talked about the Camino for a few minutes, and as I walked on, he called out, “Remember! The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plains!”
“Yes,” I replied. “I still need to get my rain gear.”
I passed another group further on that path, and a man in the group said, “I definitely recognize you. You’re walking at a really good pace.”
That made me smile.
About a week ago I bought a pack and I love it. It’s a Deuter 24 liter and I know it’s small for a 5 week walk. Maybe really small. I went to REI prepared to buy something in the range of 28-32 liters, 28 being the lowest I would go. I tried on pack after pack, adding and removing the 5 pound weights, walking around the store. I switched back and forth between the Deuter 24 liter and Deuter 28 liter packs several times, wanting to like the bigger pack better. But I didn’t. Something about the 24 liter pack felt just right, it felt perfect (even though I’ve never owned a good backpack and I’m not really sure what perfect should feel like).
But after several hikes, with about 10 pounds in the pack (less than what I’ll be carrying on the Camino, but a good start for now), I still think that pack feels perfect. I was on mile 10 of a 12 mile hike the other day, and I found myself thinking that the weight of the pack pressing against my lower back felt sort of comforting. Not heavy or intrusive or weighing me down. Just comforting.
I’m curious- very curious- to know how I’ll feel about my pack in two months, after walking for hundreds of miles and having the pack nearly permanently attached to my body. ‘Comforting’ might not be my go-to word. But for now, loving my pack is a good thing.
My mom thinks it’s too small. She saw it and exclaimed, “You have to carry everything you’ll need for 5 weeks in that thing! There’s not enough room!” But I disagree. I’m walking in the summer so my layers will be light, plus a small-sized pack is going to force me to weed out all the stuff I don’t actually need. That’s not to say that in two or three weeks when I finally have everything I need and put it all together, I won’t be running back to REI for a larger pack. But, my instincts tell me that this is the one for me.
I’ve got a pack, I’ve got a good pair of pants, a good t-shirt, a new pair of shoes that I think are going to work. Slowly, it’s all starting to come together.
Here’s a photo of me with the pack that I didn’t get:
Nadine, you are fine! You are more ready than you think you are, trust me on that. Congrats on purchasing the smaller pack, I just purchase a small lightweight Osprey, my original pack was too big as well as heavier than the new one. You really don’t need much for the Camino, the more room in your pack, the more unnecessaries you will bring.
Buen Camino, I’m leaving for my second Camino this year on August 2nd. I absolutely love the Camino. ~ Arlène
You sound more than ready. I admire folk who can get all their stuff in such a little pack. I’m off to Le Puy to start a walk in France. I loved walking the Norte last time but I only managed to get the weight down to 9 kilos! I will try harder this time.
It’s always nice when the pack list starts coming together. I bought an Altus poncho for the rain, but got lucky and only had 1 day on my entire walk. Keep up the training. Buen Camino!
Thank you Drew! I still have no idea what to do about rain gear (poncho vs jacket), but I’ll figure it out. I’m hoping to have the same luck that you did- one day of rain!! That would be amazing. 🙂
I really did get lucky. The rain can be really tough to walk in when it hits a few days in a row. The thing I don’t like about rain jackets is they make me sweat, so I get wet from the inside out! I only wear them when it’s cold enough, but I prefer a poncho for warmer weather.
Jeffrey Everets says
Congrats on the pack… haven’t read stuff in a while but sounds like you’re doing great. And don’t hate the small pack. I wish I had got a smaller one but my manly instincts told me I’d be fine. In reality take half of what you plan to take out. 🙂 It will be summer and it will be hot. Very Hot We went if fall and left half our stuff in an Alburgue on the 3 days it was so hot and heavy. (and a dirty secret, by another bag there and ship it ahead if you find you need to have more stuff – cheep 3 -5 Euro).
Nadine! I just bought my pack, and I was worried it might be too small – an Osprey Sirrus 24 – then I came here and saw that you bought the same size for your Camino. Now I’m scouring the rest of your blog to see if it worked. 😉
Yay for 24L packs!! It did work! In some ways it was perfect, because when I tried on a dozen different packs at REI, the 24L just felt the best. And on the Camino it continued to be a great fit, and I don’t remember having any shoulder/back pain.
I packed light, so the bag was big enough, but sometimes I wished I had just a bit more room… especially on the days when I was carrying lots of snacks, it was a bit of a tight squeeze. But at one point (I may have written this in a post somewhere), I was carrying at least two cans of tuna, a small loaf of bread, a hard boiled egg, a tomato, a bag of cherries, candy, a hunk of cheese… on a separate day, I was able to fit a half of a melon in that bag along with other lunch food… (my walking companions that day had a good laugh when I pulled it from my pack)… so all I can say is that as long as you don’t over pack, the size works!
Thank goodness!! Im rereading your 2014 Camino notes and I’m taking notes!