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Carrying my stuff--

kelleymac

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017
#1
My niece walked the Peace Walk a few years ago, and we were swapping walking stories, when she told me that she didn't carry her pack. The nice people in the towns offered to drive it to the next place for only $4, and she would have been stupid to torture herself and carry it. She's in her 20s, she's healthy, and honestly, her statement brought me up short. As I didn't want her to think I was belittling her, I didn't say anything at the time. But as I thought about it later, I realized how much I learned by carrying my own stuff.

Recently, on this forum, I've seen posts that take luggage transfer as a given part of the Camino. (I know it is necessary for some people who physically cannot carry their gear.)--
When I first walked the Camino, I didn't even know luggage transfer existed outside of tour companies.

So-- I want to give a shout out and say how much I learned from carrying my stuff. Please everyone-- add on to my list:

Stuff is heavy, it slows you down.
I don't need half of what I started out with. (And I need about 1/100th of what I own at home.)
I spend too much of my time at home thinking about shopping.
I spend too much of my time for the first week of walking thinking about buying stuff, and if an item will "go with" the rest of my stuff.
If I have to carry something for weeks, I stop even considering buying it.
The gift of a lead crystal block with the Leon Cathedral etched in it-- that I carried from Leon to Santiago became worth about 100 times more when I finally gave it to my husband as a gift back in New York State.
--Which led me to consider what a gift is.
--Which led me to reflect on what value is,
--Which led me to change what I valued.
(I wish I could have been able to give him the view walking down from the Cruz de Ferro to Molinesca.)
I learned that I don't need to dress up to impress people, to be liked, to be encouraged.
Carrying my own stuff gave me the freedom to decide where and when to stop,
It allowed me to to walk on into the evening.
I never worried about where my pack was (on my back).
Everything I needed was right with me.
 
Last edited:

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davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#2
I really enjoyed your post, Kelly. It spoke of how meaningful a part of the Camino it was for you to carry a backpack as a personal reflection of your experience. You never attempted to denigrate those making a different decision, but gave abundant food for thought to those who are wondering just what the point is of carrying one's own backpack when alternatives exist.

Thank you, and well said.
 

chinacat

Active Member
Donating Member
#5
@kelleymac Thank you for a lovely post!
I remember taking my pack off, to rest at the top of the looong hill on the way up to Orisson, where the path takes a sharp left, and really missing the feel of it on my back, already! :)
Knowing how good it felt to be able to carry all I really needed also led me to rid myself of lots of stuff when I returned home.
And I certainly stopped caring about how I looked .... you’ve got to really, haven’t you :D
 

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Ianinam

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Hospitalera at Roncesvalles 2015/2016/2017/2018
Camino Portugues (Sept. 2018)
#7
Walking with my stuff in my backpack gave me a total feeling of freedom I never experienced before: here I am, everything I need I am carrying with me, I can walk as long as I want, I can sleep wherever I want.
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2014, 2015)
St Olav/Francés (2016)
Baztanés/Francés (2017)
Ingles (July 2018)
#9
Kelly, thank you for a super post!
Everything you said really resonated, and it's true: this is what people miss if they do not carry their packs.

Some people cannot, and more power to them for walking however they can
But many of us can and just don't want to.

The cultural millieu that most of us are marinating in seeks avoidance of the least discomfort - but if you carry your pack, the camino busts through that conditioning, so that a bit of pain is no longer such a big deal. It results in so much more resilience day to day.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#10
I strongly dislike having my daily stages fixed in advance. The freedom to stop wherever I wish or to carry on for another few hours when the walking is good is very important to me. So I very rarely reserve accommodation and I would never dream of having my pack transported. It would suck so much of the pleasure of spontaneity and serendipity from the journey. And in any case with the extraordinary pilgrim infrastructure in Spain the sort of load which I need to walk the Caminos is so trivial that I cannot see any real need or advantage for pack transport anyway.
 

HedaP

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#11
Ditto all of the above. Nothing beats throwing your pack on your back and striding out to meet whatever the day brings. I do make sure my backpack is as light as possible and I am thankful that I can carry it. Well actually I’m amazed that I can carry it. At my age I thought it would be a real burden but the only time it bothers me is sometimes towards the end of a long day of walking. My pack is also my insurance because it has rain gear, thermals, dry clothes, sleeping bag and basic first aid stuff.
 

Annette london

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
#12
My niece walked the Peace Walk a few years ago, and we were swapping walking stories, when she told me that she didn't carry her pack. The nice people in the towns offered to drive it to the next place for only $4, and she would have been stupid to torture herself and carry it. She's in her 20s, she's healthy, and honestly, her statement brought me up short. As I didn't want her to think I was belittling her, I didn't say anything at the time. But as I thought about it later, I realized how much I learned by carrying my own stuff.

Recently, on this forum, I've seen posts that take luggage transfer as a given part of the Camino. (I know it is necessary for some people who physically cannot carry their gear.)--
When I first walked the Camino, I didn't even know luggage transfer existed outside of tour companies.

So-- I want to give a shout out and say how much I learned from carrying my stuff. Please everyone-- add on to my list:

Stuff is heavy, it slows you down.
I don't need half of what I started out with. (And I need about 1/100th of what I own at home.)
I spend too much of my time at home thinking about shopping.
I spend too much of my time for the first week of walking thinking about buying stuff, and if an item will "go with" the rest of my stuff.
If I have to carry something for weeks, I stop even considering buying it.
The gift of a lead crystal block with the Leon Cathedral etched in it-- that I carried from Leon to Santiago became worth about 100 times more when I finally gave it to my husband as a gift back in New York State.
--Which led me to consider what a gift is.
--Which led me to reflect on what value is,
--Which led me to change what I valued.
(I wish I could have been able to give him the view walking down from the Cruz de Ferro to Molinesca.)
I learned that I don't need to dress up to impress people, to be liked, to be encouraged.
Carrying my own stuff gave me the freedom to decide where and when to stop,
It allowed me to to walk on into the evening.
I never worried about where my pack was (on my back).
Everything I needed was right with me.
A great post Kellymac,

Put so eloquently...everything I would want to say in your words.
Lord I hate shopping ......any kind of shopping!!

But when I do have to go......on the bus
In the car
Walking..
My little day pack is on my back.....although so much lighter than than the big rucksack
With my Camino patch of the shell sewn on

Now after all my caminos I would almost feel naked without my pack ...even when empty .....as if something is missing ...I just like the feel of those straps around my shoulders!
With best wishes
Annette
 
#13
Great post! And totally agree about the treasured pack on one’s back. Even though at times I hurt and needed to learn more about adjusting it so that my body could carry it without pain. Even though I gave stuff away beginning in Roncevalles and all through the Meseta. You are right it was a feeling of freedom, a sense of being in which ever moment presented itself. The possibility of saying: “This is a great place to stop,” or “not yet, maybe the next town.” I was planning on a little travel after arriving in Santiago and had sent a suitcase by mail from Saint Jean to Ivar’s. I admit I anticipated opening it up and getting to some less familiar clothes, but when I did I was embarrassed about all the stuff I had brought, 3 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, shoes. Much more than I really needed. And then I put that stuff in the closet of the hotel room and just kept wearing my camino clothes.
 

Azelia

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2018
CNorte 2018
#14
thanks for sharing Kelly.
Before we left, my hubby offered to carry some of my stuff in his backpack. I was determined to carry anything and everything I needed myself within the limit of the suggested weight to carry. I carried everything I needed in my 5 kg backpack. I felt so liberated. I have enough because I AM enough.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2014, Camino Portugues 2016
#16
Well said Kelly. I have walked two Caminos and thru-hiked the AT. I sent my pack ahead once on the AT. I was sorry almost immediately. It is a part of the journey. It belongs with me. I know I can survive with just what I have in my pack. Since then it is always with me on my hikes. It's a good feeling and simplified my life...and what I pack!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept 2014)
#17
This has been such a liberating thread! It's a very important perspective to offer new pilgrims. What treasures you collected by normally carrying your packs! Unnecessary pack-shipping means I pay (loose) more than just money.

These days the culture & marketing of Camino activity (esp if it includes commercial assistance) increasingly signals it is 'natural' to use pack-shipping services. For a pilgrim who would not be able to walk without this helpful service, whether on a bad day or for the whole Way, a shipping service is a true blessing.

However, 'normalizing' it presses new pilgrims to make early, unconscious choices before they even know what they are giving up.

Other posters have so beautifully described their personal benefits from 'carrying their load', and lightening it accordingly. These are gifts we'd want new pilgrims to consider for themselves & also for those eventually walking with them. Shipping not only forces the pilgrim to book a destination/reservation, it sets up their close companions do likewise. This limits flexibilty as the day unfolds, especially if someone else encounters a need to stop early. Also, if I default to shipping 'because it's there' , doesn't it signal my companions might be 'smart' (or supportive) to do the same? If I prepare back home knowing I will not carry my pack far, the weight of some optional nice clothes & shoes for evening dinners might be worth it, along with remedies for other uncertainties or fears I am trying to control and decide to bring along. I end up with less fredom and more baggage (physical & mental). If I and others model these choices as 'normal', gradually they become the rule. Camino culture is the cumulative effect of individual free choices. How will each pilgrim want to re-define it?

I do not second-guess anyone who ships their pack. I surely know the day must come when I do it myself. Each pilgrim walks as they think is best, given their circumstances and motivations. The beauty of this thread has been to help new pilgrims make informed choices. Advertisements by pack-shipping services, and my culture's value of convenience, make it easy to see practical side of hiring these helpers. This thread alerts me to 'hidden costs' those other sources don't mention.

So thank you to the posters who are helping future pilgrims consciously balance the pros & cons.
 

Lydia Gillen

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007/8/9 2011 (C.F 2015)
#19
This has been a most interesting thread. Once again I wish people would indicated their age. In 2007/8/9 through to 2015 I carried my rucksack and loved the 'feeling of freedom' that it gave me and the lessons it taught me.. But now at almost 75 and needing a knee replacement (getting it on 11th June, praise God) I have been so very very glad to be able to use a transport provider. I have already booked for April 2019, which brings me to an interesting point.
Of the six places I wanted to stay on the Camino Portugues, starting in Tui on April 22nd , in two towns,, I could not get a bunk in a dormitory in the albergues I wanted to stay in, and in one other I got the last bunk in a dormitory. and this is eleven months away!!! I know it is Easter week but this level of booking so far in advance is amazing!!
 

Isa R

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 2016
#20
Thank you Kelly for sharing your thoughts. I was 63 when i did the Peace of Walk and carried my backpack all the way..7 kg, though i could probably got away with 5-6 kg. And you were quiet right. it gives you the freedom and for me it gives me the balance to walk steadier and knowing all my personal and necessary stuff were with me. But i must admit there were times when i thought of using a transport provider at the end of the walk, when shoulders were aching.
 

Anamiri

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#21
This has been such a liberating thread! It's a very important perspective to offer new pilgrims. What treasures you collected by normally carrying your packs! Unnecessary pack-shipping means I pay (loose) more than just money.

These days the culture & marketing of Camino activity (esp if it includes commercial assistance) increasingly signals it is 'natural' to use pack-shipping services. For a pilgrim who would not be able to walk without this helpful service, whether on a bad day or for the whole Way, a shipping service is a true blessing.

However, 'normalizing' it presses new pilgrims to make early, unconscious choices before they even know what they are giving up.

Other posters have so beautifully described their personal benefits from 'carrying their load', and lightening it accordingly. These are gifts we'd want new pilgrims to consider for themselves & also for those eventually walking with them. Shipping not only forces the pilgrim to book a destination/reservation, it sets up their close companions do likewise. This limits flexibilty as the day unfolds, especially if someone else encounters a need to stop early. Also, if I default to shipping 'because it's there' , doesn't it signal my companions might be 'smart' (or supportive) to do the same? If I prepare back home knowing I will not carry my pack far, the weight of some optional nice clothes & shoes for evening dinners might be worth it, along with remedies for other uncertainties or fears I am trying to control and decide to bring along. I end up with less fredom and more baggage (physical & mental). If I and others model these choices as 'normal', gradually they become the rule. Camino culture is the cumulative effect of individual free choices. How will each pilgrim want to re-define it?

I do not second-guess anyone who ships their pack. I surely know the day must come when I do it myself. Each pilgrim walks as they think is best, given their circumstances and motivations. The beauty of this thread has been to help new pilgrims make informed choices. Advertisements by pack-shipping services, and my culture's value of convenience, make it easy to see practical side of hiring these helpers. This thread alerts me to 'hidden costs' those other sources don't mention.

So thank you to the posters who are helping future pilgrims consciously balance the pros & cons.
You are so right. I used the pack transport when I injured my knee for a few days so I could keep on walking. I didn't have enough days to stop and rest. I used it from Viana, and was better by the time I got to Burgos. It does reduce your flexibility and spontaneity a lot.
 
Camino(s) past & future
frances(Sept 2018)
#22
I think there is something of a metaphor in the idea of carrying ones stuff with them and adjusting you load a things get heavy.

As I have been walking daily locally in preparation for my Camino I have already learned that I have too much stuff....and not just in my closet!!! My chosen camino clothes are now comfy, reliable, dependable. Ive weeded out everything with scratchy tags, rubby seams, irritating fabric.
Its a good lesson to transfer to all areas of our lives. Do I really need that " friend" who is like a irritating tag? How about all that stuff for ' just in case'?

There is something empowering about self propelling with everything you need on your person.
 

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