Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I’ve lost ten pounds since Christmas, and today I walked nearly three hours, or double my daily exercise walk. Twelve weeks from now, I’ll be walking twice that distance every day of the week, and with a 25-pound pack on my back.
I’m in training for the Camino de Santiago, baby. As a friend of mine commented, I’m trying to move 25 pounds from my six-pack to my back pack—although my six-pack is more like a keg.
(This post was written in February 2012. To begin reading my day-by-day account of the Camino, click here.)
My daughter and I plan to cover the 500 miles (800 km) from St. Jean Pied de Port at the western end of the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostella in five to six weeks. That’s St. Jean (at the “foot of the passage” through the mountains) in the photo above. You may recognize it from the recent Martin Sheen movie, “The Way.”
The map below shows the traditional “Camino Francés,” that is, the path from France to the final resting place of St. James the Apostle (Sant Iago) in northwestern Spain.
By early April I want to be taking longer hikes, up the coast to Gloucester (14 miles one way), or inland to Ipswich (22 miles round-trip), without weight on my back and then with it. I’m pretty clear, though, that the only way ultimately to train my body for the Camino is to walk the Camino. It will take a few days to round into that kind of shape.
What I’m not so clear on is the other preparations I need to make, other than buying gear, that is. My daughter is fluent in Spanish, so I’m not wasting a single secamundo in that direction. (Secamundo is not Spanish, at least I don’t think it is. It’s Bull family slang for second.)
I do want to read up on the history of the terrain we’re walking, including the Basque lands of Navarra around Pamplona. (Sorry Ernie, no bulls will be running while the Bulls are walking.) I have a couple of history-rich guidebooks on the Camino that I want to study as well.
The best news of all is that the Catholic Church provides perfect preparation for pilgrimages like this one. The preparation is called Lent. I hope that by Eastertide, I will have slimmed down in other ways—stripped of excess preconceptions and as open as I can be to the journey of a lifetime.
I’d like to think I will do it again some day, but at sixty years of age I’m not planning too far ahead.