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“The worst footprint of the pilgrims”

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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
"The Universe and human stupidity is infinite. But I am not sure about the former." Albert Einstein.

I sit with an utterly sad feeling that the Camino was my Camino....
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I’ve long complained about walkers who leave piles of rocks and their detritus (and worse graffiti) along the way, that’s not special and it doesn’t make them special. It makes them ignorant and rude. This needs to be called out often, with no room for people making excuses. There are no excuses. People who do this are, at the most generous to them, lazy and ignorant, and perhaps just narcissistic.

For anyone getting ready to say “but I only left…” think about how many pilgrims walk each year. What if all of them “only left…” we wouldn’t be able to see the markers through the mounds of rocks, shoes, pictures, etc. Someone cleaned up after this stuff was left.

Just don’t. Leave a rock at the Cruz de ferro. Otherwise leave no trace.
 

alhartman

2005-2017 Delightful 346 days in Spain and France.
Past OR future Camino
2017
With 300,000 pilgrims a year, I am not convinced the even leaving a rock at Cruz de Ferro is wise anymore.
Seems we should be back to what was appropriate in the fragile environment of the Sierras 40 years ago.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints"
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
With 300,000 pilgrims a year, I am not convinced the even leaving a rock at Cruz de Ferro is wise anymore.
Seems we should be back to what was appropriate in the fragile environment of the Sierras 40 years ago.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints"
I wondered about that also. Doubt they could stop it, they’ll be lucky to get people to stop leaving them everywhere else.

Edit: perhaps they should change the tradition to if you leave a rock at the Cruz you must also take one from there back to your home.
 
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GraemeHall

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francés 2017/18; Portugués 2019
I wondered about that also. Doubt they could stop it, they’ll be lucky to get people to stop leaving them everywhere else.

Edit: perhaps they should change the tradition to if you leave a rock at the Cruz you must also take one from there back to your home.
Oh wow. I did exactly that. I left the small stone I'd brought from my garden in the snow at the base of el Cruz, and picked up a pebble from the roadside and brought it home. It has its little shelf in the garden!
 

stevelm1

Recovering Perigrino
Past OR future Camino
CF 2015, CP 2019, Jakobswege Germany 2022 or 23.
With 300,000 pilgrims a year, I am not convinced the even leaving a rock at Cruz de Ferro is wise anymore.
Seems we should be back to what was appropriate in the fragile environment of the Sierras 40 years ago.
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints"
I have read that periodically the Spanish government "cleans-up" the shrine at Cruz de Ferro. They remove rocks and the trinkets folks have left behind. I have no idea how often this happens. In the article on this they are said they store what is removed somewhere, but I am not sure where. I also read that they had to move the mound of rocks to put in the paved road that now goes to the location (so buses can get there). Last year there were plans to turn it into some 'Disney like park' but it was prevented because it is a world heritage site and the plans did not comply with the requirements of a world heritage site. I have no first hand knowledge of this information and would be grateful to have the information confirmed or denied by someone who does have the inside scoop.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I wondered about that also. Doubt they could stop it, they’ll be lucky to get people to stop leaving them everywhere else.

Edit: perhaps they should change the tradition to if you leave a rock at the Cruz you must also take one from there back to your home.
I like this idea. The stones I've brought from home are tiny, weighing "nothing" in my backpack until placed with a prayer.
Another option could possibly be to pick up a small stone that catches your eye while walking the Camino and leaving it at the Cruz...at least it stays in its own country.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
at least it stays in its own country.
I like this. But if we could take a stone from the Cruz then the locals wouldn't have to worry about what to do with a mountain of loose rock. I imagine at some point some of it gets hauled away to lessen risk of those who climb it, and that costs money. we could make it a tradition that we leave our burden and help others carry theirs. But...that is up to Spain to decide what to do if the issue of rocks becomes too great a burden on the locals. I live next to the Mission Trail (el camino real) in California and have been pushing local leaders to develop it more, but then I think of people camping behind my house, pooping on my hiking trails...and I rethink my position.
 
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
Another option could possibly be to pick up a small stone that catches your eye while walking the Camino and leaving it at the Cruz...at least it stays in its own country.
when I walked the Primitivo I saw signs in El Acebo (on the bar/shop) sort of "advertising" placing a rock at a further location down the road (I think it was after the restaurant Catro Ventos)...when I got there there were signs posted in Spanish and German urging a rock be added to this pile. I've wondered if they kept this up. I'm guessing it was done to provide the Primitivo with it's own "tourist draw" but I think after a while they might come to regret that decision. Once I knew where it was, I back tracked the path a few yards until I found a heart shaped rock the size of a nickel and added it, thinking along your lines that at least it only moved about five feet.
 

NYSE

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances & Camino Finisterre/Muxia April 2019
Oh wow. I did exactly that. I left the small stone I'd brought from my garden in the snow at the base of el Cruz, and picked up a pebble from the roadside and brought it home. It has its little shelf in the garden!
I did leave my late mother's "worry stone" at the base of Cruz de Farro hoping a needy pilgrim could use it.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I agree you should not leave rocks, pictures, ribbons etc. I watch a lot of vlogs on the Caminos. It looks real tacky. Especially the sign before SdC
Here’s a picture @Kathar1na posted a few years ago on the subject of clean ups at the Cruz…I think it looks so much better without the attached detritus
9653C290-F0E8-44EB-A377-9210E8B7274F.png

edit: for those wishing their pictures looked like this, per @Kathar1na the locals clean up after the walkers before the annual romeria they have there the Sunday following St James' feast day. time your walk accordingly as I imagine by monday afternoon it's a mess again
 
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stinmd

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances - May 2015; Camino del Norte/Primitivo - July/August 2016; Camino Portugues - Sept 2017
I like this idea. The stones I've brought from home are tiny, weighing "nothing" in my backpack until placed with a prayer.
Another option could possibly be to pick up a small stone that catches your eye while walking the Camino and leaving it at the Cruz...at least it stays in its own country.
Imagine how quickly your "weighing nothing" stones can pile up over the years. Nonetheless, I think your idea of a stone "exchange" does have merits -- if the stone is picked out of the same pile.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
It's nice to see the messes cleaned up, but it looks like a construction site with an endloader hauling everything away, including all the pilgrim stones. I personally was touched by many of the special stones, some with writing on them, and also photos of deceased loved ones of all ages...it seemed a sacred place. Of course any grafitti left is not a good thing and ruins it for everyone.
 
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
it seemed a sacred place
if it's any consolation, it's not the physical things that make a place sacred IMO, and also IMO places that are sacred should be respected and protected, so speaking of the small ermitas, markers, etc along the way this means left pristine. My heart broke seeing detritus piled up on what would be the altar in an emita on the CF. I can understand why it's so difficult to get into small churches along the camino--or in the words of many mothers, this is why we can't have nice things. If I lived on the camino I'd have the local church or town hall give out a very special stamp, only to pilgrims who bring in a bag full of detritus collected along the path to be thrown away. And a special indulgence at the cathedral to those who have at least five such stamps (pleanary if one such stamp every day of walking). this is why I'm not Pope (although I did write to him in 2020 to urge he make a Holy Year of Pilgrimage once vaccines are available, to help all the areas struggling with loss of business)

If the Cruz is a sacred space to people it is from the thoughts and prayers said there, not from anything placed. I'm open minded on leaving rocks (only) there, if the locals are OK with it, but do think it should be a leave one-take one thing (leave burdens, help carry those of others) or eventually there must be bulldozers moving some of the pile.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I’ve long complained about walkers who leave piles of rocks and their detritus (and worse graffiti) along the way, that’s not special and it doesn’t make them special. It makes them ignorant and rude. This needs to be called out often, with no room for people making excuses. There are no excuses. People who do this are, at the most generous to them, lazy and ignorant, and perhaps just narcissistic.

For anyone getting ready to say “but I only left…” think about how many pilgrims walk each year. What if all of them “only left…” we wouldn’t be able to see the markers through the mounds of rocks, shoes, pictures, etc. Someone cleaned up after this stuff was left.

Just don’t. Leave a rock at the Cruz de ferro. Otherwise leave no trace.
I bring a rock or sometimes 2 or 3 every camino I walk. In 2017 I walked with a very close friend who was grieving the loss of his daughter. I told him about the tradition and what the rock could represent. For me the rock can represent anything one chooses. I told him to look for a rock that just felt right. Something small that he could carry in his pocket and basically always have with him. This was about 2 months before we left. I told him to find the rock as soon as he could and keep it with him the moment he found it. Hold it when he walks, feel it. He asked me if there was a place to leave it. I said leave it wherever and whenever you feel it. One day we were walking in a meadow. He called to me and said he would catch up. I said I would wait at the first open cafe for him. I knew immediately what he was going to do.
Like I said I carry a very small stone with me when I walk. This time I am carrying 3. I will leave them somewhere on the VDLP. Maybe together or maybe separately. It means alot to me. This is my tradition. I do not leave them in churches. I do not leave them in towns. I have left them on the side of a stream, on top of another rock or in a nice field. It gives me the feeling and the space to reflect on what the rock's importance is. It also helps to remind myself to think about the people I am carrying my rocks for as I walk.
 

Larry Gordon

Feet don’t fail me now...
Past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago (French Way) beginning in SJPDP 26 April 2019
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
I read this article about how rituals without tradition dirty the cathedral and the Camino, in today’s La Voz de Galicia as I departed Santiago de Compostela. I am deeply pained
I also. Social media may have something to do with propagating this. Couldn't it be used to discourage it? A clever Tiktok of someome removing the detritus, and why, perhaps.

If I lived on the camino I'd have the local church or town hall give out a very special stamp, only to pilgrims who bring in a bag full of detritus collected along the path to be thrown away
Good idea! Hey, @Rebekah Scott , how about an honorary Ditch Pigs stamp?
 
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MaryLynn

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
It's nice to see the messes cleaned up, but it looks like a construction site with an endloader hauling everything away, including all the pilgrim stones. I personally was touched by many of the special stones, some with writing on them, and also photos of deceased loved ones of all ages...it seemed a sacred place. Of course any grafitti left is not a good thing and ruins it for everyone.
A few years ago, I arrived at the Cruz early morning—no one was there except me and the man driving the bulldozer, collecting the stones and dumping them into a bin to be hauled away. It was a very strange experience.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
A few years ago, I arrived at the Cruz early morning—no one was there except me and the man driving the bulldozer, collecting the stones and dumping them into a bin to be hauled away. It was a very strange experience.
It certainly would have ruined any spiritual or reflective moment for me. No wonder it felt strange.
I'm glad my experience was this one; standing back waiting our turn while this couple were hugging each other in grief and tears. It was quite sobering to see...just them and us.
Screenshot_20211007-101831~2.png
 

EL LECHERO

Friends no Strangers
Past OR future Camino
2008
I read this article about how rituals without tradition dirty the cathedral and the Camino, in today’s La Voz de Galicia as I departed Santiago de Compostela. I am deeply pained.

I agree with you, I am even somewhat torn as to take pictures along the "Way" As it compartmentalizes my experience as a whole. Being focused on the act it self , of taking of that photo, rather than just taking the visual into my memory. Which leads me to my reason FOR taking the photos, So I can remember my experience as time marches on and my memory fades........... but to leave garbage as a momento of my experience is so wrong.....
 

Rhysmike

Member
Past OR future Camino
St. Jean to Santiago (Apr to June 2014); St. Jean to Finisterre (Apr to May 2016); Via Francigena - Lausanne to Rome (Sep to October 2016)
I agree you should not leave rocks, pictures, ribbons etc. I watch a lot of vlogs on the Caminos. It looks real tacky. Especially the sign before SdC
Remember when
 

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Past OR future Camino
2017
I’ve long complained about walkers who leave piles of rocks and their detritus (and worse graffiti) along the way, that’s not special and it doesn’t make them special. It makes them ignorant and rude. This needs to be called out often, with no room for people making excuses. There are no excuses. People who do this are, at the most generous to them, lazy and ignorant, and perhaps just narcissistic.

For anyone getting ready to say “but I only left…” think about how many pilgrims walk each year. What if all of them “only left…” we wouldn’t be able to see the markers through the mounds of rocks, shoes, pictures, etc. Someone cleaned up after this stuff was left.

Just don’t. Leave a rock at the Cruz de ferro. Otherwise leave no trace.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2017
In 2017 walking our first CF, we had the joy of walking several days with an 84 yr old Spaniard who was taking advantage of May holidays and clear blue skies. He was proud, charming, and patient with my struggling Spanish. Yet every time we walked by man made rock cairns, which was often, he took his walking stick and violently tumbled them over shouting “No Español, No Español.” That was enough for me to appreciate his disdain for these plies of rocks, and a treasured lesson along the Way.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I am not a big fan of cairns, nor do I particularly have a disdain for them. This summer when hiking out west they were used to help guide us on a trail and I was thankful.(see photo.) I have encountered them also on Washington mountain in New England as well and they were helpful to the hikers. I know Eskimos in Alaska have used them for generations as well. They do have a purpose...on the Camino, not so much. I personally still prefer them to grafitti and junk.
Screenshot_20211007-151508~2.png
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
In 2017 walking our first CF, we had the joy of walking several days with an 84 yr old Spaniard who was taking advantage of May holidays and clear blue skies. He was proud, charming, and patient with my struggling Spanish. Yet every time we walked by man made rock cairns, which was often, he took his walking stick and violently tumbled them over shouting “No Español, No Español.” That was enough for me to appreciate his disdain for these plies of rocks, and a treasured lesson along the Way.
I do the same wherever I see it. It is ignorance and/or stupidity/ego that makes this happening. No respect for Spain and the Camino IMHO.

I am becoming an old grumpy man, perhaps...
 
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LesR

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017, 2018; Camino Portuguese 2019
I have read that periodically the Spanish government "cleans-up" the shrine at Cruz de Ferro. They remove rocks and the trinkets folks have left behind. I have no idea how often this happens. In the article on this they are said they store what is removed somewhere, but I am not sure where. I also read that they had to move the mound of rocks to put in the paved road that now goes to the location (so buses can get there). Last year there were plans to turn it into some 'Disney like park' but it was prevented because it is a world heritage site and the plans did not comply with the requirements of a world heritage site. I have no first hand knowledge of this information and would be grateful to have the information confirmed or denied by someone who does have the inside scoop.
I hsd heard much the same - the government cleans up the 'stuff' (photographs, trinkets, toys, ribbons, shoes and clothing, etc.) left behind by pilgrims and others at Cruz de Ferro regularly and removed surplus stones and rocks once or twice a year.

I also read a post from one pilgrim expressing regret that the crystal that she placed in memory of her late mother would be ultimately taken away and presumably left in landfill.

I rather prefer the view that placing the object at Cruz de Ferro is symbolic of letting go of one or more of our burdens and that is sufficient... What happens to one's burden after that should not be a consideration... (A bit like the Camino being a journey and not a destination...).
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
300,000 walkers (I know there’s 350k+ but some won’t walk past the Cruz, while others like me were counted in a different Camino but did walk past it) x 2 cubic inch rock = 13 cubic yards, which would fill a dumpster 16 ft x 8.5 ft x 4.5 ft. One cubic yard of rock this size weighs 3000 pounds x 13 = 39,000 pounds of rock (19.5 US tons). Approximately and sorry I didn’t do the metric

Again, I’m not against the rock ONLY (at the Cruz only) tradition but if we could turn it into take one-leave one it would save the locals some time, effort, and cost.

And re: removing piles on the way markers @alexwalker …yo tambien. I blame FB and Instagram making people think others care about what they had for breakfast or the minutiae of their lives—I wish Martin Sheen would make a PSA on not trashing the Camino.
 
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
I have read that periodically the Spanish government "cleans-up" the shrine at Cruz de Ferro. They remove rocks and the trinkets folks have left behind. I have no idea how often this happens. In the article on this they are said they store what is removed somewhere, but I am not sure where. I also read that they had to move the mound of rocks to put in the paved road that now goes to the location (so buses can get there). Last year there were plans to turn it into some 'Disney like park' but it was prevented because it is a world heritage site and the plans did not comply with the requirements of a world heritage site. I have no first hand knowledge of this information and would be grateful to have the information confirmed or denied by someone who does have the inside scoop.
I talked to the government workers who were there cleaning up the Cruz de Ferro pile when I came by. The rocks people bring are okay, but the rest - ribbons, pictures, clothing, shoes, candles, all the stuff nailed to the pole, etc. - is carted away and destroyed. The workers expressed real frustration about this "tradition." I believe they are there at least a couple of times a month to shovel out all the garbage. That's what they called it. I wish there were recommendations given at SJPP and maybe a few other places along the Camino to pilgrims that the best course is to leave NOTHING along the trail but footsteps.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I think the mess is probably left mostly by young people and wonder if the offenders would change their ways, but it never hurts to try to educate and hope for the best.
 
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I talked to the government workers who were there cleaning up the Cruz de Ferro pile when I came by. The rocks people bring are okay, but the rest - ribbons, pictures, clothing, shoes, candles, all the stuff nailed to the pole, etc. - is carted away and destroyed. The workers expressed real frustration about this "tradition." I believe they are there at least a couple of times a month to shovel out all the garbage. That's what they called it.
Were they workers like the ones in the photo? They are from the Protección Civil de Astorga team and the photo is from 2019. Saw it on Facebook. They are only one of several groups and organisations who help to help to clean the area around the Cruz de Ferro. Again and again.

Cruz de Ferro - cleaning.jpg
 
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Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Past OR future Camino
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
I talked to the government workers who were there cleaning up the Cruz de Ferro pile when I came by. The rocks people bring are okay, but the rest - ribbons, pictures, clothing, shoes, candles, all the stuff nailed to the pole, etc. - is carted away and destroyed. The workers expressed real frustration about this "tradition." I believe they are there at least a couple of times a month to shovel out all the garbage. That's what they called it. I wish there were recommendations given at SJPP and maybe a few other places along the Camino to pilgrims that the best course is to leave NOTHING along the trail but footsteps.
I think it needs to be written in each credential, and stressed each time someone hands a credential to a walker (from church, pilgrim office, albergue, etc). It is garbage. The comments on the article originally posted here show what our very kind Spanish hosts think of this ridiculous monument to undeserved ego.

When I was in London for work, I went Christmas shopping and bought a motion-activated gag gift for my boss. When activated it sounded a loud alarm and screamed "FART DETECTED FART DETECTED WARNING WARNING FART DETECTED". he was not amused and it made its way around our various offices until I was warned to throw either it or my rank in the trash. (I love the British sense of humor!). I fantasize something like that connected to the area around the cathedral, and to the Cruz, so when someone ties something to the gate or pole, it closes the circuit and sets it off.
 

CAJohn

Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances Sept/Oct 2019
I arrived at the Cruz de Ferro very early in the morning with a friend. It was dark and foggy. We were walking along and started to stumble over all these rocks. It was hazardous. We could not figure out what had happened to our Camino path. We weren’t sure if we had wandered off course. Visibility was nil

We are cursing these rocks, when we suddenly realize that we are standing next to the Cruz de Ferro. We turned to each other and burst out laughing.

I did not have a stone with me. I had read stories about all the work that the locals do to clean up these sites and decided that I would just leave a prayer for my deceased family members.

She did have a rock for someone who she had lost. She did not leave it. She thought that the site was so dark and gloomy that she couldn’t bear leaving a stone there. I believe she left the stone on a rocky beach at the end of her Camino. I thought that was a better place for a rock.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Good idea! Hey, @Rebekah Scott , how about an honorary Ditch Pigs stamp?
The results will not be as good if you insult them, however much they may deserve it. Most of them don't deserve to be called pigs. they're just doing it because so many others did, without considering the results. Just like the things you see by the dozens on Facebook, begging you to help change it to hundreds.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
The results will not be as good if you insult them, however much they may deserve it. Most of them don't deserve to be called pigs. they're just doing it because so many others did, without considering the results. Just like the things you see by the dozens on Facebook, begging you to help change it to hundreds.
I think you've misunderstood the term "Ditch Pig" - a Ditch Pig cleans up the mess others leave behind.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Most of them don't deserve to be called pigs.
Here is the first thread I found that announces the annual clean-up that is organized by forum member Rebekah Scott. I assume that the name "Ditch Pigs" was their own joking name for the team. Search for "ditch pigs" on the forum and you will find more references.
 
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Past OR future Camino
2012
When I was a child the “settled” folk, the ones who had houses to live in, called me and mine Ditch Pigs - it was meant as an insult (maybe just a Hampshire thing but who knows?) but we always lived proud and clean and we ate well and worked hard and looked after our own and that land we would never own. It’s why I’ve always been proud to be a Ditch Pig and proud to be one of Reb’s Ditch Pigs now and again.
 

LesR

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017, 2018; Camino Portuguese 2019
When I was a child the “settled” folk, the ones who had houses to live in, called me and mine Ditch Pigs - it was meant as an insult (maybe just a Hampshire thing but who knows?) but we always lived proud and clean and we ate well and worked hard and looked after our own and that land we would never own. It’s why I’ve always been proud to be a Ditch Pig and proud to be one of Reb’s Ditch Pigs now and again.
I gather that some staff in restaurant and hospitality venues not involved in the cooking are sometimes referred to (usually affectionately) as Dish Pigs (see, for instance, https://www.redlantern.com.au/new-blog/dish-pig). A common task of a dish Pig is the collection and washing of dirty plates from the tables.

Perhaps the term Ditch Pig is derived from Dish Pig, and therefore not necessarily a derogatory term...?
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
In the US, everybody tells you to clean up after your dog, so most people do it. However I've noticed many people apparently let their dogs crap along the ditch trail I Iike to walk, and I'm guessing it's because they think nobody's watching. Now somebody is coming along putting little cocktail umbrellas on each pile of dog turds.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
I guess....
 
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Learn how to Get "Camino Ready " 2nd Edition. In English, Spanish, German and Korean
Past OR future Camino
2022
The first time I got to the Cruz de Ferro, I had brought a small stone with me with the intention of leaving it behind, as I heard was tradition, as a way of thanking God for taking care of my burdens.

But, when I finally arrived there, I decided to keep my stone.

I had come to the conclusion that my life was made up of successes and failures, and my burdens were an important part of making me the person I was.

I continued on my way, still carrying my stone, and thanking God for giving me the courage, strength, and companionship that made me able to carry my burdens, one step at a time.

I still have the stone. Different burdens, though.
 
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Were they workers like the ones in the photo? They are from the Protección Civil de Astorga team and the photo is from 2019. Saw it on Facebook. They are only one of several groups and organisations who help to help to clean the area around the Cruz de Ferro. Again and again.

View attachment 110664
I happened to watch episode 24, Foncebadón-Ponferrada, part of a TV series by a Spanish TV station, and there is an interview with the team of Protección Civil who regularly clean the Cruz de Ferro site. Perhaps someone with a better knowledge of Spanish can summarise it in English or provide an English translation of what is said? They are volunteers.

Here is the link to the video. The conversation start at around 2:50 into the video.
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Past OR future Camino
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
if it's any consolation, it's not the physical things that make a place sacred IMO, and also IMO places that are sacred should be respected and protected, so speaking of the small ermitas, markers, etc along the way this means left pristine. My heart broke seeing detritus piled up on what would be the altar in an emita on the CF. I can understand why it's so difficult to get into small churches along the camino--or in the words of many mothers, this is why we can't have nice things. If I lived on the camino I'd have the local church or town hall give out a very special stamp, only to pilgrims who bring in a bag full of detritus collected along the path to be thrown away. And a special indulgence at the cathedral to those who have at least five such stamps (pleanary if one such stamp every day of walking). this is why I'm not Pope (although I did write to him in 2020 to urge he make a Holy Year of Pilgrimage once vaccines are available, to help all the areas struggling with loss of business)

If the Cruz is a sacred space to people it is from the thoughts and prayers said there, not from anything placed. I'm open minded on leaving rocks (only) there, if the locals are OK with it, but do think it should be a leave one-take one thing (leave burdens, help carry those of others) or eventually there must be bulldozers moving some of the pile.
 
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To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
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JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
The first time I got to the Cruz de Ferro, I had brought a small stone with me with the intention of leaving it behind, as I heard was tradition, as a way of thanking God for taking care of my burdens.

But, when I finally arrived there, I decided to keep my stone.

I had come to the conclusion that my life was made up of successes and failures, and my burdens were an important part of making me the person I was.

I continued on my way, still carrying my stone, and thanking God for giving me the courage, strength, and companionship that made me able to carry my burdens, one step at a time.

I still have the stone. Different burdens, though.
I like this. I thought about *taking* a stone from Cruz de Ferro, because somebody else's burdens might be a nice change.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
A bit of a worry that one. I hope the USB stick gets virus checked before someone plugs it into the Big Computer.
Back to the topic. As well as trying to stop women from littering the path with little scraps of toilet paper, I also have a personal mission to clear the stones left on all sitable surfaces. In particular the flat topped mojones which are at about backside height. They always seem to attract a cairn. My trekking sticks then go to work. I've seen a look of horror on the faces of people when I do it.
 

SeaHorse

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015 (SJPDP-Finisterre), planning Norte
Re "bring a rock / take home a rock": In Acropolis of Athens they bring a truck full of building rubble each morning to spread out and it's all gone by the evening, tourists pocket them to bring home a free souvenir. So be careful creating new traditions, they can create new problems. Imagine Spanish hauling stones to Cruz de Ferro to keep it from becoming the deepest hole in the whole country.

I did bring a chip of Baltic amber and left it on the pile. Really small one. Now when I think 100 000 a year of such, yes, give it time and it becomes a problem. I use number 100 000 not 300 000 which is total number in Compostela office but not all pilgrims walk Frances and quite a few of those only start in Sarria. Still ads up.
 
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Original artwork based on your pilgrimage or other travel photos.

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
The story about the Acropolis is apt. It might be more useful if we spread the word about the ancient pilgrim rite of always leaving a high denomination bank note pinned to the Crux. Apparently it buys you access to a special room in Paradise.
 
Past OR future Camino
Next up 2022?
In Acropolis of Athens they bring a truck full of building rubble each morning to spread out and it's all gone by the evening, tourists pocket them to bring home a free souvenir.
Where I'm from, someone started a story about rocks bringing terrible luck if pocketed. It's not true but works like a charm.

I'm glad they clear away the detritis of momentos people leave behind at the CdF, but am a little sorry they take a front-end loader to the rocks. Why not let the pile grow and expand? It'd be interesting to see how big it woild get. And if it takes over the road, so be it. Fewer tour buses that way. 🙃😉
(Joking...)
 
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
In particular the flat topped mojones which are at about backside height. They always seem to attract a cairn. My trekking sticks then go to work. I've seen a look of horror on the faces of people when I do it.
My companion asked me not to do this when people could see me. Not always easy to do on a busy section of the Camino Francés. So occasionally I would lean on the mojon as if I needed a rest and slowly move my arm horizontally and, oops, the stones had fallen off the way marker.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I have a different perspective. Let me first say clearly, that I reverence nature and want to see her remain pristine. But I also understand that humans need a way to express themselves in certain emotional and stressful circumstances. When we have those experiences, having a common structured personal expression, such as flowers at Buckingham Palace when Princess Diana died, it can be quite a healthy personal expression as well. We are beginning to focus, indeed, however, as well, on the cost to the environment of such rituals.

Nevertheless, In my opinion, eliminating Cruz de Ferro would be a mistake! Placing or replacing a rock,or taking home someone elses prayer as a personal prayer could be a responsible outlet, and not too costly a consequence, at this time in our history for our environment and helpful to pilgrims.

If we could focus on eliminating the boots, tampons, plastic bottles, toilet paper, and other trash along the way it would be helpful. Providing periodic places for sanitation disposal along the routes would help the environment as well. I am a proponent of leaving no trace, but the garbage has to go somewhere, and having more services along busy routes like the CF, would eliminate some of this trash. It is not like someone is in the middle of a 3000 meter mountain, after all. To finance the garbage pickup and some portable waste places, a fee to everyone staying overnight somewhere on the routes..like 50 cents a night or more, or whatever would be needed to finance the cleanup, would go a long way to keeping the paths clean.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Perhaps, in SdC there could be a large, very public, designated, large common bin for pilgrims to “donate” still wearable and washed items of clothing used on the camino? This could perhaps become a new ritual? Could much of this clothing be recycled? Are there not people who might wish to have those items?
 
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Antnix1

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francés
The worst is the graffiti scrawled on every sign and marker .. So much for take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.

One of the first souvenir shops I was in sold sharpie pens among the keychains. it was only when i started walking i realised why.. so immature nitwits could spam other pilgrims with garbage sentiment like "be present", "no camino sin dolores", "it's YOUR camino", "you are loved" and "enjoy the silence".. even hashtags and youtube channels.

As for the silly piles of rocks. Every time I saw one I swept it away with my walking stick.
 

OTH86

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2017
About two weeks ago (21 Oct) at noon, with no buses or cars, no trash scattered about, just four lovely young people, quietly sitting on top. Then acknowledging me, they quietly left as I reached the top. I left a thought, imagined a prayer, descended the other side, and continued on my way. Incredible.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Past OR future Camino
2018
The worst is the graffiti scrawled on every sign and marker .. So much for take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.

One of the first souvenir shops I was in sold sharpie pens among the keychains. it was only when i started walking i realised why.. so immature nitwits could spam other pilgrims with garbage sentiment like "be present", "no camino sin dolores", "it's YOUR camino", "you are loved" and "enjoy the silence".. even hashtags and youtube channels.

As for the silly piles of rocks. Every time I saw one I swept it away with my walking stick.
I bought a can of spray paint at a hardware store along the Way. Same color as the mojones. Cleaned up some grafitti with that. Not a perfect fix, but it made me feel better.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I bought a can of spray paint at a hardware store along the Way. Same color as the mojones. Cleaned up some grafitti with that. Not a perfect fix, but it made me feel better.
Unless you are buying environmentally friendly spray paint, your very noble gesture may contribute inadvertently to the air pollution.
 
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SeaHorse

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015 (SJPDP-Finisterre), planning Norte
As does everything it seems. The synthetics in our backpacks, shoes, clothing etc are all manufactured using fossil fuels. Enormous petro-chemical plants belching gases into the sky.
And they proudly go by "vegan" leather. Yes, there are no animal products in it but it destroys the planet anyway, maybe even worse than using an animal product as it was done before the eco crisis.
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
Hmmm. I have never understood the desire to pile rocks into balanced towers ... on the other hand, I do understand the desire to have a focus for a prayer. For that reason, I light a candle in a church, or place a small stone at the foot of a cross. My son and I placed small stones we carried from home at the foot of Cruz de Ferro. A few years before, a friend of mine left a tiny framed painting of the Blessed Mother that had belonged to her deceased mother there. It was her and her father's way of saying good bye to her. --Of course, it was no where to be seen when I walked the Camino in early Spring. -- So little stones, or lighting candles, and flowers, or making a cross out of a few sticks, I think it is human nature to want/need a focus at times. Of late, I have found myself touching the small pewter shell that I wear around my neck to remind myself that I am a pilgrim. --

I am more bothered by people leaving garbage and stuff along the Way. My son and I would pick up one garbage bag of trash everyday off the trail to put it in a public trash can in a village.

And leaving stuff in Obradoiro is just crazy! Why would anyone do that? I think a few sentences in every credential about leave no trace would be great and it might even help clean up the Camino.
 
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Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
A few years before, a friend of mine left a tiny framed painting of the Blessed Mother that had belonged to her deceased mother there. It was her and her father's way of saying good bye to her.
Everybody thinks that what they leave on this mountain pass called Cruz de Ferro is special, whether it is a particularly shaped pebble from far away, a photo of a loved one, a card with the painting of a saint on it, a written wish on paper in a plastic envelope, a larger than normal rock with an engraving on it to mark the event, a USB stick, a Nepalese prayer flag, a small national flag, a sticker, a personal item of clothing. Everybody.

Why does anything have to be left there at all? Because they had seen it in movies, had read about it in blogs and guidebooks, had seen photos, had been told about it.

Imagine a world where nobody is told. Imagine a world where crosses on mountain tops are left alone. Just respected as such and a place where you can pray if you want to. The pass would stay pristine.

Oh, and videotaping and photo taking ought to be forbidden within a range of 500 m. 😎
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I was walking one year with a man who carried the teddy bear that had belonged to his little daughter, who had died in tragic circumstances. One of the saddest stories I'd ever heard. He was heartbroken and walking the camino in an attempt to overcome his grief. He intended to leave the teddy bear at the Cruz.

I was not at the Cruz when he arrived there. But I was so pleased a few days later when we met up and he told me he had decided against it. I don't know exactly what changed his mind but he said when he got to the Cruz it just did not feel right. He realised that leaving the bear was not going to alter what had happened, and leaving it would not change how he felt.

A think is just a thing.
 
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kelleymac

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
Everybody thinks that what they leave on this mountain pass called Cruz de Ferro is special, whether it is a particularly shaped pebble from far away, a photo of a loved one, a card with the painting of a saint on it, a written wish on paper in a plastic envelope, a larger than normal rock with an engraving on it to mark the event, a USB stick, a Nepalese prayer flag, a small national flag, a sticker, a personal item of clothing. Everybody.

Why does anything have to be left there at all? Because they had seen it in movies, had read about it in blogs and guidebooks, had seen photos, had been told about it.

Imagine a world where nobody is told. Imagine a world where crosses on mountain tops are left alone. Just respected as such and a place where you can pray if you want to. The pass would stay pristine.

Oh, and videotaping and photo taking ought to be forbidden within a range of 500 m. 😎
Well... I'd start by taking out the road tarmac....
But everyone depends road access--

The Camino goes through a developed country. It is not in the Sierra Nevadas. The deforestation of Spain sometimes just cuts into my heart as I'm walking... The erosion on the Camino is terrible. The trash left just sickens me.

-- I have been teaching Leave No Trace to teenagers whom I take hiking for over a decade now. However, the concept of Leaving No Trace goes against what many of us are taught, and that is to Make a Mark, Be a Difference, Show your Individuality, Connect with Others, Stand Out from the Crowd.

Back to the Camino-- Is it such a big deal to clean up one place when it brings healing to many? Could we suggest that people bring only a small rock (easy to remove later?). I would rather a rock left than graffiti or someone carving into a tree or a building.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A few times
I think the trash strewn about on the Camino path(s) by pilgrims is simply never going away. Littering is an unfortunate byproduct of humans. Even monetary fines doesn't seem to deter it. Fortunately as a whole I have never really witnessed an enormous amount of littering. Mind you, one is enough but as a whole the paths are pretty litter free. Also how much of it is from actual pilgrims and not from passerby's not Camino related? The plaza in front of the cathedral in Santiago I have never actually seen litter in. Those photos depicting those rocks and such left along the Cathedral exterior and the two reflective safety vests/jackets hanging off it are things I've never experienced seeing. Prefer it never happens, but I could clean that up in 30 minutes with a wheelbarrow.
As I have stated on here before, my biggest gripe is the graffiti along the Camino which seems to be getting worse. Every chance I get on here I'll insult and berate it and the responsible parties on the small chance one of them may actually read it on here. Mind you, if one of them did they would have to probably read it slow, mouthing the words carefully as their mental capacity doesn't allow for much else. Perhaps it would take several minutes to realize they have been berated, insulted. They'd perhaps be surprised that everyone's not impressed with their childish scrawlings in paint and ink.
I think the different local governments needs to switch to simple white, stone markers. A shell and an arrow not on plates which can be removed and stolen, but actually impressed into the stone during manufacture. The stone can be re-painted easily when the graffiti gets too much on it. Keep the stones simple due to the fact they will be vandalized.
 

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