Monday, 7 April 2014

Camino Frances - Soon...very soon!

Less than two weeks to go and the long walk resumes. This farfetched idea started in Aug 2013 with the goal of walking through three countries (Switzerland, France and Spain) over 2,400 kms in 100 days. event changed the idea however the adventure is not in the least diminished having walked 58 days, over 1,600 kms, through Switzerland and France. It has all worked for the best!

Time has just flown by since completing my second walk...daughter Lise's special wedding in Jamaica to Steven (GO HABS GO,), daughter's Jeanne and Claire returning home for Christmas from Japan and Toronto, Dawn passing her piano exam (so impressed!) and three great volunteering experiences for me (have reinforced how very lucky I am!)

I'm really looking forward to completing the Long Walk! There will be many differences from my previous experiences.

Marc, my brother, is joining me for the final walk which should be in the 850+ km range. We have hiked together numerous times in the past (Rockies, Nepal)...many hikes might be seen as crazy by a few...ok just about everyone! Marc is a very strong hiker who inherited the stubborn, can do gene...looking forward to his company.

Cyrille the young guy, potential son in law, I walked with for 3 weeks in France is planning on joining us for the final 150 kms or so from O'Cebreiro...really hope that works out!

Georges, the Belgium vegetarian with a slight dislike for hunters completed his 2,800 kms journey last fall. In corresponding with him I know he is itching to get back on the never know. "Georges...tu sais que tu veut venir...d├ębrouille toi...tu vie seulement une fois!"

Canadian lapel pins - for those who have read previous blog entries you will know that handing out these pins was great fun for me. On countless occasions conversations, many brief, were started with the recipient having been or knowing someone who had visited Canada. In retreading my blog entries I counted that 455 Canadian lapel pins were handed out in Switzerland and France. My 3 favourites pin stories...

- 90+ Swiss gentlemen who simply stared at me with a pin in his hand with a what the heck look on his face...essentially what do I need this for at my age?

-Vaylat monastery where I handed out pins to 25 or so nuns...many likely in the 90 to 100 age range and Georges, walking partner, asking the lady serving us if she could make an announcement to the good sisters that the pins were not to be eaten. Believe me after walking 30+ kms that was funny! Thankfully the announcement was never made.

-Frangy, a small village in France, where the pins sparked a conversation with the Auberge owner who indicated that 3 weeks previously a couple of cyclists from Canada had stayed at her auberge for a few nights. I posted this on my blog and received a comment, from our family lawyer in my home town, that the couple was her and her husband. That was incredible...what a small world.

Georges sent me this picture of my handing out a Canadian lapel pin to an elderly gentleman
Alas I have rationalized that taking Canadian lapel pins is not in the cards for the final leg of the walk...many reasons...I have few lapel pins left, weight considerations and the number of pilgrims will be so much higher. I really hate having to make grown up decisions like this!

Pilgrim numbers - We will be walking the Camino Frances from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela and then on Finisterre and the ocean. This is THE Camino route that everyone has heard about. 

Whereas I met less than 25 walkers (only 2 of which were completing the entire walk) on the Via Jacobi in Switzerland; likely the same number (no other through walkers) on the Via Gebennensis for Geneva to Le-Puy-en-Velay; maybe 50 to 75 walkers (less than 10 walking the distance) on the The Puy route from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port the numbers of pilgrims will increase almost exponentially (actuarial jargon for some of you) on this pilgrimage. There will be a few thousand on the route at various points. 

A lot more opportunity to meet interesting characters!

Planning - First night in SJPP and last night in Paris booked...that's it! We will be staying mostly in large dorm style Albergues where reservations cannot be made...if full you walk on. Almost expect to be sleeping outside before this is all over...taking turns watching for dangerous animals!

Language - English and primarily French got me through the first 1,600 on to Spanish! I have been trying...honestly using great software called Rosetta Stone...many hours spent however I feel that my efforts to learn a new language at such an advanced age are well...hopeless. I'm hoping though that I will me able to understand some basic stuff...otherwise must make friends with pilgrims who know Spanish!

Physical Fitness- Barring injury/illness or other unforeseen event I know that I can walk the distances which will be somewhat long in the 28 km average per day ...both from a physical and mental standpoint.

I have been working out since early December in an effort to become stronger overall...especially upper body. Carrying a backpack over long distances sure can be tiring on the shoulders and upper body! 

I think it is paying off...a week ago I bench pressed a little over 2 tons!!! Pas croyable!

Before physical fitness training

After...pretty impressive I know!
Blogging - Well I'm going to give another shot at blogging on a daily basis as I walk. Previous attempts to do this were less than successful with the iPad curse (courtesy Delphine) and my SIM card deciding it was too tired...however it's a fun way to end the day so why not try!

Now have to start packing where are those socks? I need a tuque?...water bladder or water bottles? Yikes!

Appreciate receiving your comments especially at times where the walking is long, spirits are a bit dampened due to an all day rain or sore feet! Look forward to new types of cookies however will have to be ever vigilant about dangerous animals!

Stay tuned for Day 59!



P.s. For the analytically inclined (Actuaries and System so called Architects) I may have bench pressed the 2 tons over 5 series of 10 repetitions each 50 X 85 = 4,250 lbs. Still over 2 tons though!

P.p.s. Counted for fun my stash of Canadian Lapel incredible as this is I have 455 plus the one on my hat SO exactly what I handed out. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! So that must be fate calling! Why make a grown up decision at such a tender age. THE PINS ARE BACK IN...Marc can carry them as I give them out. Perfect!


  1. Bon voyage. Looking forward to hearing of your adventures.

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