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CF November/December or January/February?

FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2013, 2016, 2019 ---- the next is a mystery.
It seems I'll be living up to my Forum name, God willing. I've walked Spring, Summer and Fall and now well, infant planning stage of a Winter CF Camino 2023/2024. I've come to the conclusion that knowing it will rain/snow results in knowing what to pack. Having to guess if it will rain/snow well that leads to carrying extra items that may not get used. 🤣 I also live where it's pretty darn cold in the winter so I might as well just get out for a month or so and go for a long walk. Please advise if you can from the following questions.

I guess I'll be wearing most of my clothing as layers, with this will I be able to keep my pack weight down to/or less than 15 pounds? My ideal weight to carry would be 12 pounds. I guess I'll need to carry food as most cafes will be closed. Is this the case?

I've read somewhere or heard on a YouTube video that there is at least one alburgue opened during off season along the CF in most stages (Brierly Stages). Have any of you found this to be true?

What about washing clothes? I would imagine hanging clothes out to dry would be a no go. How would one dry clothes if no dryer is available. Would you just go days without washing your clothes?

If you were to do a Winter Camino or if you have would you rather go November/December or January/February and why?

Any other advice you can throw my way is much appreciated. :)
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2013, 2016, 2019 ---- the next is a mystery.
Again you come through with a magnitude of useful information, I so appreciate you and all your contributions. Any words of encouragement are also greatly appreciated and needed. :)

PS: I'm still reading your Camino adventures.
 

roving_rufus

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (2013-2015) Portugues (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??) Camino from Ireland (2020-??)
After all those great posts about winter walking ...
Just be aware some albergues may close for a few days at Christmas or at New Year or Epiphany/Three Kings so make sure you have a plan in place for these holidays in advance and some extra in the budget for a hostal/pension/Hotel or a taxi if things get tricky due to closures or bad weather.

As for clothing in winter I did laundry once a week generally in a laundrette, so generally planned a bigger town for this- or occasionally got lucky with a dryer in an albergue. This means carrying extra clothing (base layers esp) which I rotated around. I did wash out underwear and pinned it to my backpack during the following day- so pick the colour carefully eg black. Unfortunately there is no avoiding carrying extra weight in winter in order to stay warm, dry and fed.

As for timing I'd probably pick Nov/Dec as Christmas lights are an added bonus...but that's just a personal thing probably as December is the busiest season at work and it would be lovely to escape! My winter pilgrim walks have tended to be in January...and I am hoping I will get at least 10 days in January 2023- there is something different to walking in winter which I just can't quite describe but is somehow special, so after 3 years I really want to go again!
 

henrythedog

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Time of past OR future Camino
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I’ve walked pre-Christmas / Los Reyes and afterwards - but never through the holiday period when I would expect accomodation to be a real challenge.

Before Christmas I’ve often been cold and wet -as much through condensation as anything - after Christmas I’ve more often just been cold, although I walk in shorts in pretty much any conditions.

I would use decent boots if I were you. Stretches will be wet and muddy.

My choice is to only venture on Camino from October through to mid April. There are fewer facilities, but the reduced numbers of peregrinos more than compensate and normal life goes on for the local population of course.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
I will give you my free advice haha, I have walked in November and December. My pack was just a little heavier. Not sure how much but I think with water it was 7k or so. Yes you will have a little more and depending on the day you will wear a little more or less. I can't say how cold it gets in Jan/Feb but I think the coldest it was for me was about -1/2C. But even then after about 15 minutes I was not cold at all. A little planning is necessary as there are alot less albergues open. Also no website/app is at best about 65% accurate on whether an albergue is open or closed. I used Gronze/Wise Pilgrim/Buen Camino apps and web pages. I think that what it comes down to is the individual owner of the albergue deciding what to do. There is also this website: http://www.aprinca.com/alberguesinvierno/
This site doesn't become active until later in the year. not sure but probably October. Yes carry food but you should always carry food anyway.
It is quiet, much starker, less pilgrims but I even these months are seeing more pilgrims. The only real weather issue I had was waking up in Astorga once and the owner of our albergue telling us that it is closed to get to Rabanal and they were sending pilgrims back the evening before by bus or taxi. They also told the pilgrims in Rabanal if they attempted to go to Cruz de Ferro and they got into trouble they were on their own. So check the weather every day.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
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How would one dry clothes

I appreciate your major concern is about accommodation and food.

My bag is about clothing. @roving_rufus has nailed part of it. My addition is to add my preference for merino woolen clothing for both underwear and top layers (but not hose/sox).

I understand, as one who has lost the finer points of smell, this material has an advantage of absorbing odours.

My field experience is that merino wool is quick drying.

I hope you resolve the other concerns you have.

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia mana'wa'nui (take care, be strong, confident and patient)
 

FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2013, 2016, 2019 ---- the next is a mystery.
I will give you my free advice haha, I have walked in November and December. My pack was just a little heavier. Not sure how much but I think with water it was 7k or so. Yes you will have a little more and depending on the day you will wear a little more or less. I can't say how cold it gets in Jan/Feb but I think the coldest it was for me was about -1/2C. But even then after about 15 minutes I was not cold at all. A little planning is necessary as there are alot less albergues open. Also no website/app is at best about 65% accurate on whether an albergue is open or closed. I used Gronze/Wise Pilgrim/Buen Camino apps and web pages. I think that what it comes down to is the individual owner of the albergue deciding what to do. There is also this website: http://www.aprinca.com/alberguesinvierno/
This site doesn't become active until later in the year. not sure but probably October. Yes carry food but you should always carry food anyway.
It is quiet, much starker, less pilgrims but I even these months are seeing more pilgrims. The only real weather issue I had was waking up in Astorga once and the owner of our albergue telling us that it is closed to get to Rabanal and they were sending pilgrims back the evening before by bus or taxi. They also told the pilgrims in Rabanal if they attempted to go to Cruz de Ferro and they got into trouble they were on their own. So check the weather every day.
1c is near 32F which for me isn’t that bad. Here at home we get way below freezing sometimes nearing the big goose egg of zero degrees. That’s -18c.
Thanks for your free advice. 🤣 I’m still looking forward to hearing about your winter Camino coming up in November. I’m very excited for you.
 
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FourSeasons

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2013, 2016, 2019 ---- the next is a mystery.
I appreciate your major concern is about accommodation and food.

My bag is about clothing. @roving_rufus has nailed part of it. My addition is to add my preference for merino woolen clothing for both underwear and top layers (but not hose/sox).

I understand, as one who has lost the finer points of smell, this material has an advantage of absorbing odours.

My field experience is that merino wool is quick drying.

I hope you resolve the other concerns you have.

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia mana'wa'nui (take care, be strong, confident and patient)
You are sweet. 😊 Thank you and yes I’ll be looking for sales on merino wool clothing this fall/winter. I’ll be sure to stock up.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
1c is near 32F which for me isn’t that bad. Here at home we get way below freezing sometimes nearing the big goose egg of zero degrees. That’s -18c.
Thanks for your free advice. 🤣 I’m still looking forward to hearing about your winter Camino coming up in November. I’m very excited for you.
Please make a little note about contacting me in late December. I will tell you all about it. I didn't notice you were from the Pacific Northwest. I lived in Ashland, Oregon for 20 years. So the temperatures I encountered will absolutely not be an issue for you. I might be doing some pretty funky things this year. I am starting on the Aragones to Logrono. May stay on the CF but may go to Madrid and walk from there to Santiago or I may go to Lisbon and do the CP again but this time at Porto go up the coast.
 

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