“For I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow” was written on this memorial for a woman who passed away peacefully in her sleep while walking the Camino de Santiago. It’s from a Yeats poem…
THE LAKE ISLE OF INNISFREE
By William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
People come from all around the world to walk the Camino de Santiago. It might be for religious reasons, for historical reasons, for health reasons. It might be to pay tribute to a loved one who has passed on… I wasn’t quite sure what my reasons were. The idea of exercising for 5 straight days fit in to my “operation bikini” plan. And I was looking forward to getting to know a little bit better the 5 women with whom I would be traveling. I really didn’t know what to expect.
I spent two weeks trying to figure out how to hike.. to figure out what I would need. It felt a bit like me trying to get ready for a Grateful Dead Concert in college. Do I wear my Laura Ashley jumper with my hot pink lipstick? Or do I throw on a borrowed tie-dye and cut off shorts? I searched for clothes online. I knew my lululemon pants wouldn’t probably work for hiking… or my running shoes. I went to North Face here in Barcelona and asked the guy at North Face what I needed. He directed me to a 45l backpack. He recommended socks. He recommended boots. He recommended a raincoat and rain pants. He recommended a shammy cloth. He recommended walking poles. I felt like a fake. Pretending to be a hiker at the age of 42. Why have I waited so long to actually hike?!!?
So I bought the backpack, the socks, the jacket, the pants, the poles and walked out with all of it in the backpack on my back. Doug brought me the Lowen shoes from the US (a half size bigger than my size 8 1/2 feet). He also brought me back a slew of pants from Athleta that looked to me to be hiking pants. What are hiking pants anyway? And as Erika (one of my other walking compadres) said, “why don’t they make hiking clothes in fun colors like… pink!?”
I struggled with whether I should bring my Canon Mark II with my 70-200 lens (which weighs about 10 pounds). I wondered if I might want my iPad for reading at night or if I would want an iPod nano to listen to books on tape or music. And what if someone gets hurt on the trail? Maybe I should bring a first aid kit? And what about the toiletries?
So here’s what I packed for my 5 day journey:
2 pairs of Athleta pants
2 short sleeved t-shirts
1 long sleeved t-shirt
1 pair of rain pants
5 pairs of undies
5 pairs of socks
2 sports bras
1 pair of shorts to sleep in at night
A water bottle
Boots size 9 (1/2 size bigger than my feet)
Running Shoes (that I’ve been wearing for a year).. size 9
A cover for the backpack in case of rain
Warm running mittens in case of cold
Compeede for blisters
Pink lipstick :)
Small bottles of shampoo and conditioner
A bracelet to keep the bugs away
My necklace made of a polished Pointe au baril rock given to me by my husband…
A baseball hat
Camino t-shirt for the girls (designed by my friend Candace)
An ipod nano
The Itinerary with boarding passes
Canon Mark II 1D
24-70 MM lens
16GM card for camera
Charger for Camera batteries
Charger for IPhone
All of it fit in to the backpack and weighed 20 lbs. My friend Michelle came over and showed me how to strap on the backpack properly… pulling all of the various cords so that it curves in to your back and sits properly on your hip… And it felt great!
So off I went to the airport. The faux hiker that I was, with my bright pink lipstick. Did I need all of the above? For the most part yes… I didn’t ever use the Nano. I tossed the stinky bug repelling bracelet. I never wore the gloves (but it could have gotten cold) or the poncho or rain pants (we never really had a crazy downpour). And thankfully I never needed any of the neosporin or band-aids or compeede. And I have to say, I NEVER wore my hiking boots. I was too afraid!! I wore my running shoes the first day, didn’t get any blisters and figured that was a good sign. So I wore my running shoes the entire week.. with absolutely no problems! I would have liked to have used the hiking poles… but managed to lose them before we even started the trek!
But everything else in my backpack was well worn and used.
If I were to do it over again, what would I do differently in terms of packing… I wished I’d had more pockets in my pants. Pockets are key for holding money, for holding my iPhone, for holding my little camera, for holding my extra memory cards. The Athleta pants were great… but I somehow wanted more pockets. I know that you can get backpacks with pockets in the strap that wraps around your waist… mine didn’t have that… but that would have been nice. I will say, my backpack was nice and light. I also wished I’d packed some flip flops for the end of the day and I might have used that towel the North Face guy recommended to wipe my brow at times… But other than that, I was pretty pleased!
So thankfully for me, I felt prepared for the end of May Camino journey from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. Ideal timing in my mind for walking this section of the Camino as I’d heard of people walking through sleet two weeks earlier… and rain… But the rain is fairly common.. we just got lucky…