Camino Training, Backpack Follies, and The Voice In My Head. (6 minute read)
Training for the Camino, turns out, is a little rougher than I anticipated. Sometimes the misadventures turn out to be the best experiences of all. This, however, was a one-star day.
For me, a great part of traveling is the planning of the trip and even though this is a incredibly long walking trip, it’s really no different. In fact it’s the most planning I’ve ever done. I’ve been prepping for months making sure I have the most important fundamentals in check: shoes, socks, backpack, blister protection, etc. The “rule” is to keep your pack at 10% of your body weight and I’m just going to go on the record here and say that for someone who is kind of a minimalist……this is still really HAAAAAARD. Trying to get everything I’ll need for 6-7 weeks to weigh in at 14 pounds has turned out to be way trickier than I thought.
How do you fit 6 weeks worth of living into a backpack?
I created a spreadsheet several months ago of the items I’d bring and as I started to accumulate them I popped the weight in the next column. For the last two weeks it has been nothing but DELETE DELETE DELETE as the weight of my pack had creeped up to 22 pounds. Eight pounds over?! How can that be?
I could almost feel my knees snapping.
Another suggestion for packing for the Camino is *wear one wash one*. Meaning 2 sets of shorts, tops, socks, underwear, and sports bras along with your very basic fundamentals. Take one off, put the other on, wash the first set. Repeat everyday until you’re done. At first, before I punched in the weight values, I was somewhat flippant about what I was going to bring along. I’ll be totally fine with everything I want to bring—brushing off the warnings—it can’t weigh all THAT much.
Oh, Lorri darling….you have so much to learn.
After painstakingly getting my pack down to 15 pounds, I took it out for a test drive on Friday morning for training. There’s a quaint little historical building exactly 3 miles from my back door that I’ve always wanted to explore. So I woke up, checked the radar and set off for a six mile round-trip journey. The weather report showed a small batch of rain about an hour away. If I got caught in a light shower, perfect! I could test out my waterproof pack cover.
I hoisted my 15 pound pack over my shoulders—feeling a little like Reese Witherspoon’s character Cheryl Strayed in the movie Wild—and walked out the back door.I made it about 3 blocks when I could feel my body rejecting this obscure monster on my back. That’s when the conversation started in my head.
WTF are you thinking?
I dunno!!! OMG I’ve gone entirely insane….
You’re gonna walk 500 miles across Spain and you are struggling to make it 1000 steps?
I know, I know!
You do know you’re going to hike through mountains, right?
YESSSSSSS. I KNOWWWWW.
Lorri darling, there is no way you’re gonna make this happen. You’re not capable.
Give me a break. I’m just getting started and today is my first test run. I can aways take an Uber home if I collapse.
Are there Ubers in the Pyrenees?
The trail was relatively quiet except for a gray-faced black lab cheering on his limping master struggling to run along side him. I secretly hoped their home was in sight. After a mile, my pack started to feel like it was a part of my body. The discomfort I felt at the beginning of my walk had dissipated. Thank god.
I settled in and found my stride.
About an hour later—and 5 minutes from my destination—I was exiting Long Lake park when the sky opened up and the rain started falling hard. I ducked under the closest pavilion, slid off my pack, climbed up on a picnic table and opened up my weather app. That little tiny green rainstorm had escalated into a full blown red/orange, four county-wide thunderstorm with the warning; “Torrential rainfall, localized flooding, and frequent cloud to ground lightening. Please seek a safe shelter inside a building.”
Super. Does a concrete shanty with no walls count? I weighed my options.
You could call Uber.
I am NOT calling Uber. I am NOT calling Uber. I am NOT CALLING UBER.
You left your raincoat at home because your pack was too heavy.
Maybe I should call Uber.
It’s not really considered giving up when it’s due to inclement weather…
You know what? It’s summer. It’s warm. It’s only water and I won’t melt.
I know. But “frequent cloud to ground lightening” and all…
My pack isn’t a beacon.
Seriously. Uber could be here in 5 minutes and bring you and your heavy pack home safely.
Are there Ubers in the Pyrenees?
As I waited for the worst of the storm to pass so I could start my trek back home. A Parks and Rec truck with a 100 gallon water tank backed up to the pavilion and parked about 10 feet from me. I watched cautiously for about 5 minutes until finally a 25 year old kid got out and said “hello”, very sheepishly, and then, “I gotta hose down this place, sorry”.
Of course you do! In the middle of “torrential rainfall, localized flooding, and frequent cloud to ground lightening” —and me without my raincoat! Why wouldn’t you hose this place down right now?
I grabbed my pack, smiled somewhat sweetly at him and walked off—laughing at the irony of the situation.
This is exactly how it will be, you know, on the Camino. Always the unexpected happening.
It’s why you decided to do it—you wanted to feel this. To feel grounded in the uncertainty…again.
I know…its true. I’ve missed the challenge.
It’ll be different this time. Much less traumatic and much more fun….like it is right now.
I want this experience. I wan’t to prove to myself I can do this. I’m ready.
As I turned to leave I caught site of the playful black lab and crippled man. They were jogging down the path that leads to the historical building I was originally heading to. The man—struggling with every step—looked as happy as his gray-faced lab frolicking in the rain. I decided that if they could make the best out of a situation, than I certainly could too.
Less than 500 steps after saying goodbye to the still guilt-ridden young man and the protection of the pavilion, the clouds broke open. The sun cast a golden glow over the nearby meadow. As I walked home, I watched the bulk of the storm pass a sliver to the south with the rain showers getting me only wet enough to prove my pack cover, was indeed, waterproof. Turns out there was no “torrential rainfall, localized flooding, and frequent cloud to ground lightening” after all.
On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best, I’m only giving myself a 1 star day. In all honesty this would’ve been a 5 star day based on the fact I made it as far as I did carrying a 15 pound pack and getting caught in a torrential downpour on my first day of training. I also think I had a pretty great learning experience at the pavilion and hope to remember not to let fear (or the voice in my head) influence my behavior in the future.
- I took away the first star because 3 blocks in I forgot my water bottle and had to turn around and walk back home to get it—adding an extra 1/2 mile onto my walk.
- I slashed the other two stars because on the way home I literally got lost 6 blocks from my house by missing my turn and walked an extra 3/4 miles out of the way before realizing where I was. This, is on top of the first half mile I had to re-walk, made my original six mile trip an actual eight miles long. It also made me face the fact that I ingloriously got lost in my own neighborhood.
Also noting that I am confessing this daftness out loud, I should just disqualify myself from any future star ratings altogether. But in the spirit of adventure….I’ll continue on.
- After drudging my weary body back to the comfort of my home (which I finally found), I decided to re-weigh my pack and see what I could terminate, from what I thought was, the final cut. Turns out I was toting over 17 pounds and not the 15 pounds I originally thought. SMH. Minus another star for ineptness.
So one star it is for today. Once I can feel my legs again I’ll set off for day two of training. In the meantime, you can find me in the jacuzzi tub detoxing, trying to put my hips back in their sockets, and memorizing the names of the streets surrounding the home I’ve lived in for the last 25 years.
Lorri, darling. You’re going to walk across Spain…and you got lost in your own neighborhood?
Yes, you jerk, I am.
Um, do you think that’s a good idea?
As a matter of fact I do. Plus there are yellow arrows guiding me the entire way.
Oh, I see. Yellow arrows. Guiding you across Spain.
Yes, yellow arrows guiding me across Spain!
And yet those things, what do you call them? Oh yes…street signs. Those street signs didn’t seem to improve your directional capabilities yesterday, did they?
It’s a long story…
Well, we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it on the Camino. Seven weeks to be exact. Lot’s of quiet time. Maybe some rain. Hopefully no “frequent cloud to ground lightening”.
Oh. Aren’t you just hilarious.
Don’t forget your raincoat.
Breathe Deep & Live Well —