And we’re off


Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury

WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmers for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;

Here begins the Book of the Tales of Canterbury

When April with his showers sweet with fruit
The drought of March has pierced unto the root
And bathed each vein with liquor that has power
To generate therein and sire the flower;
When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,
Quickened again, in every holt and heath,
The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun
Into the Ram one half his course has run,
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-
Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,
And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,
To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.

So with the coming of April we too are off on pilgrimage, not to Canterbury but to more distant shrines.


Day to day on the Camino


We plan to average about 12 miles a day and get in Santiago de Compostela in about 40 days of walking. See this table for the planned days. We will probably have 2-4 days where we stay in a place skip walking for a day. That leaves about 10 days at the end. We plan to go on the Finisterre and Muxia, either on the bus or walking and explore the northwest Atlantic coast of Spain.

For the flat parts we hope we can average about three miles/hour. This means four hours of walking a day. With stops and variations we are planning four to six hours of walking a day. Starting around 8 am that means we get to the next town where we will stay between noon and 2pm. Then we get a hotel, do the daily washing, and get lunch. The rest of the day is for exploring the area, reading, blogging, thinking, getting food for dinner or the next day, or whatever.

We are going to try to eat our big meal at lunch and have something small for dinner, like tapas. We don’t like the idea of a big meal at 9 or 10 pm.

All of this is subject to change, of course, we’re not sure what we’ll find when we are actually on the trail.

Our Equipment


We are carrying all our things with us as we walk. All the guidebooks emphasize how important it is to have as light a pack as possible. We got ultralight packs from Gossamer Gear. I have the Gorilla pack and Wynette has the Mariposa pack. This is what I am taking:

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The pack, “bubble” jacket on the left, hiking poles beside the pack, blue rain jacket, rolled up rain pants below it, gold pack rain cover, water bottle, and the bags for the jacket and rain gear at the top.

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The pairs of socks and sock liners, three pairs of underwear, a long-sleeve shirt (plus one I will be wearing), two long-sleeve and one short-sleeve undershirts on the left, a pair of pants above it (plus the one I will be wearing), and bags to hold them.

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Extra shoes (Teva sandels) and bag, sheet-sleeping bad and pillow cover above them, toiletries including wash cloth and towel, on the left: ear band, gloves, and muff, first-aid kit, orange dry bag, and water bladder.

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And here it all is inside the pack.

I am taking Brooke Ghost GTX (waterproof) shoes for daily hiking. We plan to wash underwear every day and the other things less often. They say the albergues have washing machines so we might be using those.

Since we are carrying all our stuff in our packs we wanted a minimum of electronic devices. We decided that we would each just carry a smart phone for all our needs. Charlie has a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 with 80 GB of storage. Wynette has a Nexus 4 with 16 GB of storage.

These will be our audio listening device (music and podcasts), our camera, our phone, our blogging device, our reading device (Kindle) and our web access device. All in 5 oz (Wynette) or 6.4 oz (Charlie). Obviously compromises are involved but we feel that the weight savings will be worth it.

We plan to get a Spanish voice/text/data SIM in Pamplona the first day. We plan to each get the Vodaphone Yu plan: 100 minutes, unlimited texting, 1.5 GB data for 16 euros a month.

Here are the apps we will be using: Smart Audiobook Player, BeyondPod (podcasts), Kindle (books), Google Reader (RSS, hey, it’s not going away until after we get back), Pocket (reading saved web articles), NYTimes app, ABQ Journal app (keep up with ABQ), Google My Tracks (to keep track of each days walk), Google Maps, and gMail. And, of course, the built in phone, messaging, camera, and browser apps.

Our Planned Route


See this table for a summary of the towns we plan to go through.

  • The “H” column gives the number of hotels in that town.
  • The towns with “0” hotels will have a pilgrim’s hostal, or albergue.
  • The “km” and “mi” columns give the distance from the town on the previous line to the town on this line.
  • The “Tot” column is the number of miles from Roncesvalles.
  • The “Stay” column show the places we currently plan to stay the night. The distance is the number of miles from the previous night’s stop to this step. The red number of the day of the month (April or May) we will stay there. These are all subject to change.
  • The blue bars and the region in Spain the towns are in.
  • The “Stages” are from Brierley’s excellent Camino guide.

We decided to start in Roncesvalles Spain rather than St. Jean Pied de Port to avoid the strenuous first day over the Pyrenees. We might continue walking after we get to Santiago de Compostela and go on to Finisterre (the end of the earth).

See this map for the towns in a Google map of our trip. The flags indicate places along the way that have places to spend the night.  Red flags are places we plan to stop per the first draft of our itinerary.  (These will probably change.)

See this page for the AccuWeather blocks of 11 towns along the route.

About this trip


This is a record of our walk on the Camino de Santiago. The Camino is a pilgrimage path that has been used for at least 1000 years. See our page Camino links for more information about the Camino.

We plan to walk about 500 miles over about 40 days starting April 3, 2013. Most people who walk the Camino stay in pilgrim dormitories called albergues. We decided to stay in hotels rather than the dormitories. We will eat in restaurants.

People walk the Camino for many reasons. The Santiago Cathedral gives out compostelas (certificates of completion) and asks some questions and compiles statistics on the people who complete the Camino. Religious and cultural reasons dominate.

When we heard about it, it just sounded like something we would like to do. We like the adventure. We like being in Spain. We like doing something that many other people have done and found meaning in. We liked the idea of a long walking vacation. We liked the idea of having a lot of time to think about things and observe life. We wanted a chance to reflect on things and think about our lives.

There are many blogs about the Camino on the internet. We have found them helpful in getting and idea of what it will be like. We wanted to write about our experiences so other people can do the same thing and so our friends and family can know what we are doing.

We didn’t train as much as we expected we would. We are walking 2-4 miles each day around Albuquerque. We have gone on about a dozen longer hikes over the last few months. We did three 10-mile hikes. We hope this will be enough. We plan to start slow and work up to 12 miles a day.

Here is Wynette on one of our mountain training hikes.

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