The other day, my mom asked me how this year’s Camino training and prep are going. “It’s probably no big deal this time, right?”
I had to agree. Camino Prep, Round Two- so far- is relaxed and fun. Thinking back to a year ago, I remember the anxiety I felt with two months to go: all of the things that I still needed to buy (at that point, I didn’t have my pack or the right pair of shoes), all of the walking I still needed to do, all of the details I needed to figure out.
This year looks very different (although check back at the beginning of June and I will probably be running around frantically, picking up items, cramming in last minute hikes). But for now, I’m calm. Except for a few new clothing items, I’m just going to re-use everything I took on my Camino last year. I have my flight and my train ticket (more on that later), I have several word documents storing notes on the Norte/Primitivo, and I already have a couple of good training hikes under my belt. I’m even (slowly) learning a bit of Spanish.
Someone once said (I can’t remember who or where… whether in a book, on a blog, in a comment on my blog), that preparing for a Camino is part of the Camino experience, and that in some ways, they wished they could go back to the time before their first Camino. Everything was unknown and thrilling. There was so much to figure out, but so much joy in the process.
And I think I can understand that. Last year’s training and prep really were part of my Camino, and in some ways it consumed my winter and spring. While I was certainly stressed over finding the right pair of shoes and worried about how physically prepared I was for the walk, I also loved those months of throwing myself into the ‘prep’. I loved how much I was learning about what it would take to walk 500-miles; I could feel myself growing and expanding even before I set foot on the trail.
So this year is different, but that’s also okay- actually, in some ways, it’s a relief. Last week I walked into REI and left 15 minutes later with a new pair of shoes: the exact same pair that I walked my Camino in last year. I loved my Keen hiking shoes, and after wearing them for hundreds and hundreds of miles, they felt like they were perfectly molded to my feet. But with holes and broken shoelaces and very worn tread, I was ready for a new pair. These new shoes are stiff and clean and feel a little foreign on my feet, but after a few hikes are already starting to break in. What a relief to not have to go through the same process as last year! Lets just hope that Keen makes this exact pair of shoes forever.
I think I’m also very relaxed about the ‘how’ of walking this next Camino. Last year I wanted to have the pilgrimage experience, and make it to Santiago. I was so focused on the goal. This year? I want to just go in with an open mind and do this walk however I want. If I find a charming sea-side village and want to stop for a few days and relax and write, then that’s what I’ll do. If I never make it to Santiago, I think that will be okay. Mostly, I just want to spend my days walking and meeting people and eating good food and seeing a new part of Spain.
Speaking of this walk, I realize that I should probably explain my plans. I last left off with a big question mark, not sure if I should walk another month-long Camino (the Norte), or if I should do 11-days on the Primitivo and then hop over to France for a few weeks at a writer’s retreat. Well, the Norte won. It was probably always the answer, but I didn’t fully realize it until I was in the process of buying a train ticket (a cheap one!) down to Hendaye (a town in the southwest of France that is steps away from the starting point of the Norte). Just before I purchased the ticket, I thought to myself, “Oh! I guess I’m going to walk the Norte.”
And that’s the plan, for now: spend a month walking the Norte (and maybe branching off onto the Primitivo) for my second Camino. I don’t have a lot of time- only 31 days of walking- but if I’m feeling as strong and as motivated to walk as I was last year, getting to Santiago should be no problem. But maybe I’ll never make it to Santiago: maybe I’ll walk short days and take advantage of being along the ocean. Maybe I really will hunker down and do mini writer’s retreats along the way. Maybe I’ll make some friends and decide to walk with them. Maybe I’ll speed walk and arrive in Santiago ahead of schedule and have time to walk to Finisterre/Muxia (very unlikely, but you never know).
What I like about this year’s Camino is the flexibility I’m allowing myself. I’ve already done this once, and I know what it means to have a goal and walk 500-miles to get there. Now, I think my only goal is to fully embrace the experience of the Camino, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for me this time.
Robert Reeves (Bobby) says
Honestly, San Sebastian is so beautiful you may decide that you want to spend the whole month…but then you’d never get to see the huge puppy topiary in Bilbao.
Puppy topiary?? Now I’m excited. 🙂
I bought Keens áfter my first Camino. Love them.
I’m happy it’s such a relaxed experience for you this time.
I experienced such joy when I found myself on the Camino a second time, without pain, that I couldn’t stop myself from practically jogging some of the time. Got some strange looks from some folks I passed. It was so much easier to get the right pace. There was time to stop and take in new things I missed the first time. And I managed to shave of more than a kilogram by leaving things behind I knew I didn’t need second time around.
Sometimes She Travels says
Thanks for sharing about your joy the second time on the Camino. I have worried (just the tiniest bit) about being letdown the second time around because the first time was so amazing. Happy Easter!
Hi Elissa, nice to meet you. I went over to your blog and signed up straight away. Buen camino!
Well, I don’t know that I’ll be jogging parts of the Camino this time around (see my post today…) But then again, I tend to get overly anxious about certain things when I’m in the preparation stage. This year, I’m relaxed about the gear, about the travel and the logistics… but as ever I’m worried about my physical preparation!
I’m so glad to hear that you experienced so much joy on your second Camino, and that you were able to walk without pain. It makes such a difference! But I think that some of the joy (much of the joy?) must come from being able to return to the Camino… so I think that even if I walk with some pain this year, I’m going to be elated to be back in Spain and to be on a pilgrimage again. 🙂
Yes, Happy Easter! 🙂
Sometimes She Travels says
Me! That was me who said that. Well, it could have also been someone else, LOL. But one of the things I realized only after walking the Camino for the first time was how precious that time leading up to the first Camino was and I sometimes wish that I had journaled more than I did during that time.
On your “Round 2″ post on March 2nd, you wrote, “(we’re sort of having parallel experiences!!)” and I am definitely feeling it with this post! The prep this time around is completely different, as is the anticipation. Two days ago, I ordered this year’s Camino shoes and, like yours, they are the exact same pair I wore last year. (I love the before and after shoe pic, of course.) And reading your post last year, “These Boots Are Made from Walking…Hopefully”, I have similar posts from last spring when apparently we were also having parallel experiences – just without knowing it!
I could write much more about the similarities but would just bore you and everyone else. Suffice it to say, I almost feel like I don’t have to write my own blog post now! 😉
As always, thanks for sharing your experience and I look forward to seeing what you write next. (Btw, when are you going? How funny would it be if we crossed paths on the Norte?)
I always love discovering others who are having/had very similar Camino experiences… it makes me wish we could all meet up for training hikes, to discuss gear, to walk together on the Camino…
I’ll be starting my walk on the Norte mid/late June- how about you? I think that we were walking within a week of each other last year on the Frances, and it would be so great if we ran into each other this year!! Never underestimate Camino magic!
I have a feeling from your blog that you’ve got the training part of the preparation better covered than I do this time around- the photos from your hikes are gorgeous!!
Sometimes She Travels says
I leave the U.S. on June 16th. It certainly would be something if we ran into each other! I’m not sure about the training; I feel like I haven’t done nearly enough…certainly not as much as I did for the Francés last year, lol. Thanks for checking out my hike photos!
Elissa, this is going to be great… I leave the US one day after you. I’m SURE that our paths are going to cross at some point 🙂
Sometimes She Travels says
Nathan Mizrachi says
About those shoes….I have the same thing going with my 2nd pair of Merrels in 2 years, and I really hope they don’t discontinue the line. Perhaps we just need to buy a lifetime’s supply of shoes?
Hope your training (both physically, and also in terms of learning Spanish) is going well–and yes, I think the Camino does begin, in a way, with those practice hikes.
Joe Gatlin says
Hi Nadine. Good luck on your Camino this year. I am still trying to determine why my feet hurt so much on my recently-completed Camino. One of my gym instructors thinks maybe some of the 152 muscles in each foot were not in good physical condition. Maybe the custom orthotics in my hiking shoes were too hard. I am already thinking about a 2017 CF, if my wife will let me go.
Hi Joe! I loved seeing your facebook posts about your Camino, and I can’t believe you’re already done. You did an amazing job, despite the foot pain. And I love that you’re already thinking about another Camino! Maybe we’ll be able to walk down the same path together one day 🙂
I would love to walk the Camino with you, sometime, Nadine. I have yet to broach the subject of a 2017 Camino with my wife. (She’s in Africa at the moment. That’s what happens to couples when they have been married almost 47 years – separate vacations.)
I am pretty sure that the foot pain was self inflicted. I think the orthotics had a lot to do with my pain. Next time, I would take them, “just in case,” and look for some softer insoles. Also, I will look for a good pair of sandals that are not as heavy and bulky as the Tevas.
I feel like I missed a lot, by moving too fast trying to meet a schedule to get back to the US before Linda left for Africa for a month. Next time, I know better what I want to see that I missed this year.
Anyway, I did mention to our son, Colby, that I was thinking about a 2017 CF. He would do another increment with me, perhaps from Pamplona to as far as he could get in a week.
I now know of about five women who want to walk the CF in 2017. Just not sure that Linda will be onboard with my walking with all these younger (and pretty) women. When you’re my age, all younger women are pretty. I will make sure that they subscribe to your blog, since it is so informative and well written.
A couple of the gals are good bikers and a lot stronger than I am. Due to time constraints, they are considering biking the Camino. Not sure I would want to bike the CF except for the Meseta, perhaps. Maybe I can talk them into a hybrid Camino.
Anyway, good luck on your Camino. I will take vicarious pleasure in following your footsteps.