Saturday Oct 9, 1954– Grace Hospital, St John’s, Newfoundland.
Gulping her first breath the baby’s cry was carried seaward by a blast of air gusting easterly towards Cape Spear and the Atlantic Ocean forming waves of serendipity and the inevitability that she would embrace a pilgrim’s life.
Since that first breath a pilgrim’s (a wanderer or traveler) life was my destiny. I have seen the world through work-related and personal travel. To celebrate my 60th birthday continuing on my pilgrim’s path I decided to walk the 800 km Camino Frances pilgrimage route.
A key requirement for my Camino trip was to attain the fitness level required to actually enjoy the walking. I would follow the yellow arrow signs that mark the route focusing on the wild flowers and changing landscapes, the history, culture and people of the regions and not strain or pain from the walking.
To prepare I read many memoirs on pilgrims’ experiences on the Camino trail. Some of the authors shocked me with their lack of physical fitness preparedness including the essential outfitting and trail knowledge. The risk of injury and physical discomfort that many pilgrims accept as part of their Camino experience worried me. I read travel books containing tips for outfitting, itineraries, cultural and historical landmarks and myriads of other Camino information. What I couldn’t find was consistent, clear, expert instruction for planning and executing a Camino training plan. At that point I decided that the focus of my Camino blog would be on how to train and prepare for the walk. To paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli “The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write about it”.
In 2014 I became a Camino de Santiago Pilgrim by walking the timeless footpaths of the Camino Frances for over 800 kilometers. I started walking Tues May 20 from St Jean Pied de Port in rain gear, fighting hail, rain and fog during the hike up the steep, stony mountain trails of the Pyrenees. I finished on Thurs June 26, a sunny, crisp day in Galicia wearing shorts and a t-shirt and running up the Cathedral of Santiago steps in disbelief that my journey was over. I thrived while walking the varied terrains, gaged my rain gear in volatile weather conditions and wholeheartedly tackled the many tests of endurance along the Way of St James. I finished the pilgrimage on schedule covering the whole distance with no injuries, no bad experiences (bad weather doesn’t count) and fully enjoying the many challenges and adventures along the journey. The memories of the Camino Frances pilgrimage will nourish me forever and the lessons learned, friends made and sense of accomplishment are prized and a personal milestone.
I am proud to have achieved my goals but now it’s time to plan the next adventure. My future plans for this blog are to continue to post ideas and tips for training, outfitting, and general preparation for walking the Camino, and other challenging trails. I will keep training to ensure my pilgrim’s penchant for walking long distances will be sustained.