July 8, 2015
Well, I certainly hope this bit of advice from a multi-Camino-walker is generally true. I’ve returned from a month in southwestern Colorado, near Ouray, the Switzerland of America, where my partner, Neil has had a family cabin for more than sixty years. We spend the month of June every year, and the setting is magnificent . . .
However, I did not do much training for my Camino. Reading seemed to be more necessary, and sitting. Quietly. On the cabin’s front porch.My few hikes, which began at between 8100 feet and 9100 feet above sea level, were predictably exhausting and short. One hike was specifically for the purpose of scattering Marley’s ashes with the rest of his doggie friends who died before he did. Neil always took the dogs on a particular hike when they were with us at the cabin, and Marley was my last of four Golden Retrievers.
As each dog succumbed to cancer, we took the ashes to a point high above Ouray, Colorado, atop a cairn of rocks and a beautiful view. Mr. Marley was lucky . . . he lived to be 13-1/2 and died of old age, not cancer, but this is the first year since 1998 without any doggies at all, and it feels pretty empty here without at least one of them romping in the lake or through the ditches.
So on a beautiful day, his remains joined those of his sister and his two older playmates. At least this year I won’t have to say goodbye to him as I begin my Camino.
At this point, I’m reading the almost-daily blog of a young woman named Nadine (Begin With A Single Step), as she walks the Camino del Norte. Because of her, I’m getting my own personal rundown of what the Norte might be like when I get there, and I get twinges of concern about my readiness to do this particular walk, in some places much more challenging terrain than the Camino Frances.
But walk I will, just as I did two years ago, with perhaps less training behind me, but with as much determination and much more comfort with the entire venture. My gear is all set in a little box, ready to be properly packed in my backpack. No agonizing over what, how much, whether it’s enough, whether it’s the “right” stuff. I know my pack will be lighter, because I won’t be taking about 10 lbs. of things I shipped home from Pamplona and beyond last time. And I know that if I put one foot in front of another, I will move forward. I know I have 47 days if I need it, and I think that will do nicely, with some time to spare.
Having returned from Ouray one week ago, I am swamped with a month’s worth of mail waiting on my desk, doctors’ appointments, medical tests, visits to a friend who has received a serious medical diagnosis, paying bills, unpacking from our trip while getting ready to leave in two days to begin my solo drive to New England for a month. If it stops raining there, I can walk every day . . . a nice six-mile loop with a relatively heavy backpack, just to move myself closer to the Camino zone. Surely after my-usual-life-in-overload, I will be ready for some time without mail, e-mails, phone calls and too many appointments. I definitely look forward to the quiet.
I have to conjure up my trust, trust in myself, in my packing choices, in the notion that choosing the Norte this time is a good decision. And the ultimate trust . . . that no matter what happens, I have options. I’ve learned at least that lesson in nearly sixty-nine years.
Seven weeks until my departure. Ready or not, here I come . . .