“You Don’t Train For The Camino . . . The Camino Trains You!”

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 . . .

Our Cabin near Ouray

Our Cabin near Ouray

The view of Dallas Divide, between Ouray and Telluride

The view of Dallas Divide, between Ouray and Telluride

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.

Marley, the last of the great Goldens in our household

Marley, the last of the great Goldens in our household

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.

Cairn with doggie ashes in lower center, overlooking a beautiful view

Cairn with doggie ashes in lower center, overlooking a beautiful view

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 . . .

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About Woodswoman

Writer, educator, psychotherapist, woodswoman. Crave solitude and just walked the Camino de Santiago from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. Long-term partner, Neil. Three grown kids, one traveling the world for a couple of years (see theparallellife.com), and two in other countries . . . Thailand and Texas! One Golden Retrievers and two cats. Avid reader, looking for 10 more hours in each of my days.
This entry was posted in Animal Ashes, Body readiness, Camino de Santiago, Colorado, Hiking the San Juans and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to “You Don’t Train For The Camino . . . The Camino Trains You!”

  1. travelivblog says:

    A golden retriever lover and a camino walker…sounds like me! I had a lovely golden, Mindie, who I sadly lost well before her time (just shy of three years old). I stumbled across a comment you wrote on Nadine’s (Begin With A Single Step) blog and thought we may be walking the Norte around the same time. When are you going? I’m looking forward to keeping track of your adventures in case we come across each other at some point! Buen camino 🙂

  2. Woodswoman says:

    I will begin from Irun, either August 29 or 30, and won’t be walking at the pace Nadine seems to go. She is younger than my children (my guess), and stronger by far than I am, from the pace at which she is going. I won’t be following the “stages” of the Ciccerone book. But yes, I’d love to see whether we can connect at some point. When do you start, and from where?

    This morning my doorbell rang and I opened it to greet Larry, a man I met on the Camino Frances two years ago. He too is apparently going to walk the Norte at about the same time, as is a dear friend I met on the Camino last time, Ria from Germany. Ria and I have arranged to begin together, though we walk at different paces. We can all stay in touch . . .

  3. Jeanne Sheriff says:

    That’s a nice account of things, Joannah, and the pictures really add.
    Don’t forget you can (I’m sure) cross from the Norte to the Frances one way or another if that turns out to be the best thing to do…at anytime….
    I hope you’ll blog frequently. It was a lot of fun to participate in almost real time with you a couple years ago.
    Don’t forget who was sitting on the other side of you during your first viewing of “The Way.”

    • Woodswoman says:

      Thanks, Jeanne. And I will write almost daily, as I did last time. Just that last time, the early stuff was only about once a month until July or so, And how can I forget who was sitting on the other side of me during my first viewing of THE WAY??? And when I’m too old to remember, you, the younger friend, can be counted on to REMIND ME!!

  4. I’ve been following Nadine’s blog, too! She is definitely going at a good rate. Are you walking the whole Norte? Or changing to the Primitivo? I found there were decent options to break stages throughout much of the Norte but on the Primitivo there were some stages that had to be longer. I took 33 days and the first week was definitely the time to find my Camino legs! I will look forward to reading more of your adventures and following your Camino. Buen Camino!

    • Woodswoman says:

      Sorry I didn’t respond to you, Andreaonthecamino. I plan to do the whole Norte, rather than go onto the Primitivo. And I have 47 days, really, though I plan to take 42-43 days to get to Santiago. But the longer time means I can do exactly as I please, stop when a town looks interesting, and not be so tied to the “stages” of the books. I’ll be in Irun on August 28 in the evening . . . staying at Pensione Bowling. Hope to see you sometime.

  5. Julie Hippler says:

    You sound more than ready! I can’t wait for your posts from the road!

  6. I love this, ready or not! To me the journey isn’t in the preparation, but rather letting it unfold before you. Blessings to you during this pre Camino time.

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