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'Hard' is a state of mind. Discuss.

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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I think you are correct, but that descent from the Cruz de Ferro into Molinaseca sucked both times. My third time, I took the road.

Mindset, current level of fitness, weather, sunshine, nutrition status, fatigue, expectations all factor into perspective. It's all an opinion.

It's not like any of the camino is technically difficult. We don't need crampons, ropes and harnesses.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
And does that vary for you, Dave, or is it just me?
You better believe it applies to me, too. I have been on day hikes that I have done dozens of times. There will be times that I feel like I'm just going crump, when just a a few days before I felt like I could just skip up the grade to the top. :eek:
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I love the descent from Cruz de Ferro down to Molinaseca! It's one of my very favorite stretches of the Camino Frances...so beautiful with gorgeous views, and awesome flowers of white, yellow, pink and lavendar; true paths, many areas with bluestone slate underfoot after El Acebo...and I never struggle on the downhills. In fact I enjoy them immensely and feel like a little kid as I scamper down!

Just don't ask me about the uphills! I absolutely hate them! I am slow as molasses, get worn out easily, and stop often to smell the roses. They seem to go on and on forever. Getting to the Ibaneta pass, and the path up to La Faba are blazed in my memory. Yep, just my opinion on my own personal experiences...we are all different!
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
The same camino segment, on two separate occasions can vary dramatically in difficulty and perceived frustration, joy or misery. I TOTALLY agree with the OP and all of the comments above.

My personal circumstance has an additional challenge in that I must contend with congenital depression that evinces itself as anhedonia and dysthymia. Bottom line, I find it challenging and at times impossible to start the day, towards the next day’s likely stopping point. I also have to struggle to remain focused and motivated to move forward.

I have immense empathy for all of my colleagues who struggle with frustration, disappointment, inconvenience, discomfort and physical or psychic pain. Most days, I am walking in your moccasins.

This is a very worthwhile thread. Thanks for starting it.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Suffering or happiness is created through one's relationship to experience, not by experience itself.
Yes.
And it's tricky. Because if you're suffering, a compassionate response from another could be kind acknowledgement and sympathy...or a kick in the pants, depending on circumstances. And it's all too easy to land on the blame/shame side of the spectrum.

I love the descent from Cruz de Farro down to Molineseca! It's one of my very favorite stretches of the Camino Frances...so beautiful with gorgeous views, and awesome flowers of white, yellow, pink and lavendar; true paths, many areas with bluestone slate underfoot after El Acebo...
Me, too. I wondered what all the dramatic descriptions were about. Same on the Invierno with going down to the Miño and up the other side. The latter would have been awful if I was in a hurry. But I wasn't. And anyway, it's so gorgeous that suffering was out of the question.

And...@t2andreo, how wonderful that what you do at the Pilgrim's Office brings the satisfaction it clearly does!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
Indeed, indeed, as a most eccentric young man I knew used to respond to most greetings.. This someone is blessed with a very short memory when it comes to pain. As soon as a hill is over, I am already breathing and moving normally. I asked before I walked the Ingles, about the hills. I got the truth, (for me) and so agree that, for me, knowing sweetened the pill. As for surfaces: I have little memory of those. I just recall the final day being just what the signage indicated - enchanted!
In sum - (ha! - the great thing on the forum is there is always another view...) in sum, alhartman’s economy of expression hits the nail on the head. For me!
Sorry about double quote, can’t fix it.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
We told friends about a variety of routes when they were trying to choose one and they settled on the Portuguese from Porto. We informed them there was only one climb and it was not significant. That is to say, it was no bigger than any hill we have to climb to go anywhere where we live....our friends come from a flat part of the country and thought the whole route was rolling;-) As for the hill we had mentioned, they thought THAT was a mountain and it nearly killed them (despite the fact that they work out at the gym regularly). To be fair, they walked it in a heat wave and we had raced up it trying to stay warm in a cold rainy storm.
(Now we don't talk about hills!)

The first time we did the Primitivo we bounced along although the heat sometimes was a strain. We had already been walking for eight weeks before that and were in excellent shape.
The last time we walked it (this time last year) for the very first time we had not been hiking regularly beforehand as most of the tracks around us had been closed, and even though the weather was much more favourable I found the walk to be harder! It seemed much more hilly this time;-)
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
We told friends about a variety of routes when they were trying to choose one and they settled on the Portuguese from Porto. We informed them there was only one climb and it was not significant. That is to say, it was no bigger than any hill we have to climb to go anywhere where we live....our friends come from a flat part of the country and thought the whole route was rolling;-) As for the hill we had mentioned, they thought THAT was a mountain and it nearly killed them (despite the fact that they work out at the gym regularly). To be fair, they walked it in a heat wave and we had raced up it trying to stay warm in a cold rainy storm.
(Now we don't talk about hills!)

The first time we did the Primitivo we bounced along although the heat sometimes was a strain. We had already been walking for eight weeks before that and were in excellent shape.
The last time we walked it (this time last year) for the very first time we had not been hiking regularly beforehand as most of the tracks around us had been closed, and even though the weather was much more favourable I found the walk to be harder! It seemed much more hilly this time;-)
I walked up "that hill" on the Portuguese camino last May and I remember exactly the one you speak of! I thought it was quite a biggy, even though I've walked the Primitivo, Le Puy and Norte!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Now we don't talk about hills!
Or difficulty, I guess. ;)
Wise move.
This someone is blessed with a very short memory when it comes to pain. As soon as a hill is over, I am already breathing and moving normally.
Oh! Very wise.
Now a corollory comes to mind. If we're grudge holders in our personal life, do we also tend also to do the same thing when we walk - hanging on to the pain of that challenging hill, making a bit of a drama of it? Hmmmm. Something to ponder.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Hard is so difficult to quantify. And I'm not sure it has that much to do with fitness.

In my mind the 'hard' aspects of a Camino relate to 3 things or 3 challenges.

Physical
Emotional
Spiritual

And all three overlap to a degree at any time on any given day.

And as outlined above, these challenges are impacted by so many things..........such as: and I quote @VNwalking

Fitness
Age
Time of day
Weather
General health
Rest
State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So whether a particular Camino is harder, or a section is harder, is totally subjective and will be different every time for the person walking. It has been for me.

But in my mind, the emotional 'hard' far outweighs the physical 'hard'.
But there again, they are linked.........
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
I'd agree 100% with the surprise element.
Often 'hard' parts seem easy 2nd or 3rd time around.
Probably just more mentally prepared........
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
Is it an introvert or extrovert thing?
do folks focus on themselves,the effort...
Or is it the person who only sees the external world around them?

My eternal and final iteration will be a broken body beset by ever increasing physical infirmities and pain.
Thats it..it is what it is.
I am fortunate!

I know what is going to happen and how and in what manner
So....

I am free.
Why worry for a future that was uncertain and veiled by...what if?

So why worry how high,how wide, how hot,how cold how rough,how slippery, how uneven...how....long.

You get to simply decide..is it worth it?
Will the pain be worth the effort?
Notice i didnt say suffering...
That is thankfully gone.

No more suffering...pain? Yes
Suffering..no....

As I said...I..am free. Knowing that the world opens up like a breaking storm..the crepuscular rays are muscular..they light this and that up...cutting away the hubris and detritus of the storms of life so that things are more clear.

So now its easy to see the flowers, and if attractive enough, worth the effort to smell them

If its worth it is all up to how you decide to see things i think...
Hill is a hill
Hot is hot
Stank and sweaty happens on a journey

Let go of why you perceive as what makes you suffer to let go of what makes you suffer

I am in pain morphine wont cut!
And always will be.

I am depressed because of the perpetual onus of the sensations of injury, the psychological pressure of the sensation... and knowing the hurt cannot be fixed. I put my hands to show my pan to the world and the facade cracks..because I am human and i do human things. And there is absolutely nothing the world(out there) can do...
But..
The world in here..(point finger to heart-then to head) is under..at least a measure of perception under control. Where i live(put finger to my head)...is my total existence. Every thing my body feels,senses and perceives is subservient to my thinking self..my existence is between the ears.

As Marcus Aurelius mentioned..The mind is Sovereign

Logic over emotions..so what i feel is less important than what I can experience.
Blue skies
The smell of wet pavement
Hay freshly mown

Laughter
Kittens
The smell of a womans hair
The sound of a loved one calling your name
Silence inside and out

Lol
All this to say i think its a matter of perspective.
Forgive my long windedness?
 

gypsy9

Active Member
the weather conditions are a big factor (for me) in terms of enjoyment and endurability....
big rains and wild winds had me stopping at Orison snivelling for shelter. Usually, I joyously and steadily walk on to Roncessvales (possibly my favourite etap)
One year, Carrion de Los Condes to the wee town near Sahagun one year--I wanted to simply keep on walking. take breaks, to drink, to eat, then walking. stopping. replenishing...all day...the lightness of Spring and gentle sunshine. clear ever-changing exquisite skies.
Another year I barely made it to the next town after that 17 km stretch.
I felt scorched by the sun and my spirit petered out...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Is it an introvert or extrovert thing?
do folks focus on themselves,the effort...
Or is it the person who only sees the external world around them?

My eternal and final iteration will be a broken body beset by ever increasing physical infirmities and pain.
Thats it..it is what it is.
I am fortunate!

I know what is going to happen and how and in what manner
So....

I am free.
Why worry for a future that was uncertain and veiled by...what if?

So why worry how high,how wide, how hot,how cold how rough,how slippery, how uneven...how....long.

You get to simply decide..is it worth it?
Will the pain be worth the effort?
Notice i didnt say suffering...
That is thankfully gone.

No more suffering...pain? Yes
Suffering..no....

As I said...I..am free. Knowing that the world opens up like a breaking storm..the crepuscular rays are muscular..they light this and that up...cutting away the hubris and detritus of the storms of life so that things are more clear.

So now its easy to see the flowers, and if attractive enough, worth the effort to smell them

If its worth it is all up to how you decide to see things i think...
Hill is a hill
Hot is hot
Stank and sweaty happens on a journey

Let go of why you perceive as what makes you suffer to let go of what makes you suffer

I am in pain morphine wont cut!
And always will be.

I am depressed because of the perpetual onus of the sensations of injury, the psychological pressure of the sensation... and knowing the hurt cannot be fixed. I put my hands to show my pan to the world and the facade cracks..because I am human and i do human things. And there is absolutely nothing the world(out there) can do...
But..
The world in here..(point finger to heart-then to head) is under..at least a measure of perception under control. Where i live(put finger to my head)...is my total existence. Every thing my body feels,senses and perceives is subservient to my thinking self..my existence is between the ears.

As Marcus Aurelius mentioned..The mind is Sovereign

Logic over emotions..so what i feel is less important than what I can experience.
Blue skies
The smell of wet pavement
Hay freshly mown

Laughter
Kittens
The smell of a womans hair
The sound of a loved one calling your name
Silence inside and out

Lol
All this to say i think its a matter of perspective.
Forgive my long windedness?
To answer your final entreaty: of course! Nothing to forgive. What you say is what some others have said also, in different words. Another way to express it - it isn’t what happens, it’s what you do with happens... that way is freedom. If i could swallow my own medicine , by the hokey, I could climb Everest! The Hill of Howth is good enough for me. Or El Perdon. Or the way out of Pontedeume. Or from Hospital de Bruma...
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
To answer your final entreaty: of course! Nothing to forgive. What you say is what some others have said also, in different words. Another way to express it - it isn’t what happens, it’s what you do with happens... that way is freedom. If i could swallow my own medicine , by the hokey, I could climb Everest! The Hill of Howth is good enough for me. Or El Perdon. Or the way out of Pontedeume. Or from Hospital de Bruma...
How many Everest must we climb untill we are sated?
How many poems under stars beside the fire must be told
How many places are there to see...?

Yes.
That many
Some people look out at the vast world outside the door and cower at the thought of so many places to see...and only one lifetime to see them?

And the luckless pilgrim who goes out onto the paths and never look back..he who treads the path of stars in this lifetime

Toils and privation
Storms and starvation
Natural wonders and force,to quote the great poet..Jimmy Buffet...
A lust for the wander it is
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
pain? Yes
Suffering..no....
All this to say i think its a matter of perspective.
it isn’t what happens, it’s what you do with happens... that way is freedom.
I cannot agree more. 🙏
If i could swallow my own medicine , by the hokey, I could climb Everest! The Hill of Howth is good enough for me. Or El Perdon. Or the way out of Pontedeume. Or from Hospital de Bruma...
🤣
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
So well said and I totally agree. Difficulty is subjective just like so many things on and off the Camino. It is like reading reviews Gronze.com. Sometimes I see15 great reviews of an albergue and 6 or 7 bad ones. I then read the bad ones that complain a hospitalero didn't smile at them. or there were some drunks outside at night or a pilgrim woke them up too early. Those aren't negative those are what life gives us. As DaveBugg stated he always inserts the "to me". I always insert my age and the concerns that I have at my age that differ greatly from just 7 or 8 years ago and will grow a little as I march towards oblivion. Like this example' I did the Norte at 64 last year and for me it was a really difficult camino. especially along the coast.The hills just never seemed to get easier. Having said that I had a great camino and it is absolutely magnificent. The scenery was spectacular. When I have made comments regarding the CF and the Norte in regards to difficulty, outside of the first day, the walk up (Both times in the rain or snow to O'Cebreiro and a few other brief spots I thought the CF was a walk in the park compared to the Norte. I have read others say they are both easy or both about the same. I usually get the impression both here on the forum and on caminos that evaluations for camino difficulties, and hills is very often age related. As one gets older the evaluations of our younger Pilgrims get more annoying too!!! ;)
 
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.
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
Hi all
So many good comments here and agree with your post so much VN
Last year, we walked the San Salvador and to be honest I was dreading it a bit because of some of the posts on the forum...
It's so hard
So hilly
One has to be super fit!
It's vertiginous

Heavens Charlie says I ...we'll never make this one!.....and off we went ...I had of course studied and watched the various videos re all this ..
It wasn't plain sailing though as one of the descents from the Parador was a bit hairy...but we studied the various ways and took the one best suited to us...(the road)

But for us....and I say again...for us it was a great Camino and as I said in the summing up of this journey ....one needed to be fit but not super fit ...
Also we are used to walking in very hilly areas and this made all the difference.
Also it was clear and sunny ...again making all the difference.....walking it in the rain might have been a different kettle of fish!!!

Reading some of the comments I am reminded of a song by Lee Ann Womac ....which to be honest is the song that I've picked out for my children and grandsons for my funeral ..
Go for it
Try it
Don't be afraid
Don't sit on the fence
Have faith
Embrace life and love image.jpeg
It's on you tube if anyone cares to listen to it
I cant seem to be able to post it here but these are the words
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
So true!!!
 

linda piso

Member
Camino(s) past & future
English (Summer 2016)
Portuguese (Fall 2017)
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
Yes. I found that people tend to say that things are not difficult so that others don't feel like they can't do it. But just recently, I saw someone say, "what is hard for me may not be hard for you" and then sent an image of the topography, which I thought was very kind and honest.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
sent an image of the topography, which I thought was very kind and honest.
What a good way to answer that question.
Difficulty may stiil happen, but at least there's a sense of the lay of the land.

Something in your post rang a bell, and I remembered one 'hard' afternoon. Leon to Hospital de Orbigo. That loooong straight stretch after Mazariffe was hot, and I was bored in a toxic way that I hadn't been before. It was awful. It was also completely flat, so a photo would have conveyed nothing of the challenge. But boredom creates the equivalent of at least a 30° slope in the mind. ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sep/Oct 2018)
Camino Portugues (Sep 2020)
Yes. I found that people tend to say that things are not difficult so that others don't feel like they can't do it. But just recently, I saw someone say, "what is hard for me may not be hard for you" and then sent an image of the topography, which I thought was very kind and honest.
I think what's often missing from a response is context. Is the CF hard from SJPdP? Yes, if you want to do it in 20 days, probably not if you're going to do it in 45. Age, weather, time of year, relative fitness / training, and KM per day all help provide context to the answer. I would never want someone to pass on a Camino because they thought they couldn't do it, but I would feel bad if they underestimated the challenge. Any distance / route is hard if you don't give it enough time or preparation.
 

Theatregal

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
So far...
2012 ~ 2019
So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.
"And my state of mind is the key". Yes!! This more than anything is what determines "hard" for me. I tend to forget the physically tough moments pretty quickly - I think because they (long climbs or descents) are usually connected to great moments of beauty.

The hard times on the camino that I remember are most often connected to something I was experiencing emotionally (past or present) or simply a route that felt boringly endless, uninspiring and ugly (highways into and out of industrial city areas!).

The one physically hard time that still sticks with me though is the Hospitales on the Primitivo. This was my own fault. I wasn't prepared properly (physically or practically) and I ran out of water on a very hot day - the last 8 km or so and descent into the mostly uninhabited Montefurado was agony. Thankfully my friend found an open tap on the side of a house! I don't tend to think about walking the same camino again - there are too many routes I want to explore - but this part of the Primitivo is one that I would like to walk again (well prepared!) and experience in a better frame of mind.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Many, though not that many here in this thread, seem to equate difficulty, challenge, "hardness" with landscape or distance between comfort stations. I don't think that was quite the question. Those who walk camino more with their hearts than their feet will know where the really hard bits can come from: that Black Dog at your heels, that Glass Wall in front of you; that old life pulling you back as you seek escape velocity.... The simple world of camino gives us opportunity and challenge but I think neither is truly offered by the route(s) or the landscapes through which they thread.

My "hardest" camino, probably, was my first. I carried two sins of omission until I could finally lay them down. My easiest was my 2nd Primitivo. With The Beloved by my side and no time constraints, home responsibilities or anything to do but the day there was only ever the ground beneath my feet and the sky over my head.

Hey, we can all walk 500 miles - slowly or quickly, in or out of breath, with a healthy glow or sweating like a Tinker in the sun. After all, if there is a path in front of you then someone has been that way before. All you need to do is take it at the speed you can.
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...
I think some of us ask the question because we would like to know:

1. Are there a lot of +/- 400m hills to climb (and descend) several days in a row, or
2. Is the trail dead flat for 6 days?

Taking those two extreme examples the original poster can analyse, from all the subjective replies, how they (the OP) can objectively consider walking the trail themselves.

It seems a legitimate question to me.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
@jsalt I wouldn’t dispute that information about the terrain ahead is valuable. My thought was that “the terrain is the terrain” it will not be bothered by what we think of it. It’s us that get bothered. And if we really want to get where we’re going then it’s ourselves we have to overcome not the landscape.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I think some of us ask the question because we would like to know:

1. Are there a lot of +/- 400m hills to climb (and descend) several days in a row, or
2. Is the trail dead flat for 6 days?

Taking those two extreme examples the original poster can analyse, from all the subjective replies, how they (the OP) can objectively consider walking the trail themselves.

It seems a legitimate question to me.
I do not quite follow your argument here. The two specific questions you mention are easily answered by looking at the elevation profiles found in most guidebooks and sites like Eroski. They also have factual and fairly unambiguous answers. But knowing the details of the physical topography does not really answer the question of whether that is "hard" or not which remains essentially a personal judgment. I read a description of one of the Kumano Kodo routes posted here a few months ago which bore almost no relation to the route as I remembered it. Though the writer and I had walked exactly the same path.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I was recently fitted with a "Spry-Step" device to ameliorate the neuropathy in my right leg. It has me doubting whether I will ever walk the Camino again.
I wrote Reb Scott and asked, "Have you ever seen anyone walking with something like this?" Her response was frank and sobering, she said she has seen pilgrims walking who are missing limbs.
So after my trek on Via Podiense last year and being questioned daily why I walked so slow, maybe you will see me in 2020 in Spain. I will just be walking shorter distances each day and much slower than everyone else.
 

Attachments

gypsy9

Active Member
Next year will be my sixth Way to Santiago de Compostela. The first time was hard, no question. I pushed myself, walked too far, didn't stretch, drink enough and had physical injuries and blisters. Now I slather my feet with vaseline and listen more to my body but each subsequent Camino has varying challenges and unexpected difficulties. Sometimes a harsh exchange with a human being will affect my emotional state for hours..but walking in Nature balances me out--the landscape seems to iron out the kinks.

I return. over and over. Why? There is a deep and ancient knowing that it is good medicine for me, no matter what unfolds. The hard patches are also accompanied by relief, gratitude, insight, joy. The weather may change, I find a fountain, make my way down a steep steep hill. Face a fear (walking without booking beds), kindness from another person with a smile or buen Camino..the dance of a delicate butterfly, inches from my nose.
It's all part of it.

Next year I plan to walk San Salvador. Maybe Camino de Madrid. I'm scared! My first time. But I set up the perceived challenge anyway.. Part of the incredible appeal (I now realize) is that I get to know myself very intimately. The hardness-es magnify and charge this intimacy. Closer to self, feelings, to the land upon which I walk the skies, the stars (I can't actually see) and fellow pilgrims. The grief, despair, anger, joy, gratitude, bliss all part of every journey...
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
And if we really want to get where we’re going then it’s ourselves we have to overcome not the landscape.
Ha ha, that’s too philosophical for me! To me lots of steep uphills and downhills are a lot harder than walking on level terrain, no matter what state of mind I’m in.

But knowing the details of the physical topography does not really answer the question of whether that is "hard" or not which remains essentially a personal judgment.
Yes, that’s what I mean. By looking at everyone’s personal judgement, and they will all be different, someone who hasn’t yet walked the trail can decide if this trail might be for them, or not, as only they themselves know what they are capable of.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
What's there to discuss, Vira? You said it all already ;););)
 

zrexer

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
I thought a few of the days on the Francis were difficult over my various years walking, but then I walked the Primitivo last fall! This year on the Francis, no complaints as to any hard days at all. It is all about perspective and your accumulated hiking travel experience.
I am sure those that have walked the West Coast trail in Canada or Appalachian trail or Pacific Coast trail in the US likely get a chuckle out of Camino walkers talking about 'hard' days!
As far as my harder hiking days, any number of hikes I have taken in the Canadian Rockies are much more challenging, but also not 800 kilometers in length or 33 consistent days of walking. It is the continued 'half marathon' walks day after day that make a Camino challenging, not so much any individual day of it. Dealing with the accumulated wear and tear of a Camino is the challenge of it for me.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Those who walk camino more with their hearts than their feet will know where the really hard bits can come from: that Black Dog at your heels, that Glass Wall in front of you; that old life pulling you back as you seek escape velocity....
This was part of what I was trying to say, but you put it much better.🙏
I read a description of one of the Kumano Kodo routes posted here a few months ago which bore almost no relation to the route as I remembered it. Though the writer and I had walked exactly the same path.
What's sobering is when you walk the same way twice and this happens!

There are two kinds of challenge that get lumped together here as just 'hard' - physical challenges and heart challenges. I've walked scary mountainous paths in the Himalayas, and nothing on the camino is remotely hard by comparison, not physically anyway. But psychologically? The camino can be as challenging as that, and more.
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
I think you are correct, but that descent from the Cruz de Ferro into Molinaseca sucked both times. My third time, I took the road.

Mindset, current level of fitness, weather, sunshine, nutrition status, fatigue, expectations all factor into perspective. It's all an opinion.

It's not like any of the camino is technically difficult. We don't need crampons, ropes and harnesses.
I don't know really, I made a wrong (or correct?) turn after leaving the village of Riego de Ambrós, and found myself going down the longer road route, I estimated it to be an additional 4km. When I realised my "mistake", I first felt a bit stupid, but decided I was too far off track to go back (going back uphill wasn't very appealing at that point anyway!). So, I continued on my way, slowly and carefully, occasionally dancing and singing to myself and taking photos of the wonderful views. However, when I met others who had walked the rocky path all the way down, they were all suffering from knee and hip pains, despite some of them being much younger and fitter than me. So, perhaps I had made a correct turn and my feeling of stupidity changed into a feeling of relief.
I guess I'm providing an example relating to the OP, that it's all relative and often changing when we least expect. Isn't this just another one of those wonderful Camino lessons and metaphors for life?
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I was recently fitted with a "Spry-Step" device to ameliorate the neuropathy in my right leg. It has me doubting whether I will ever walk the Camino again.
I wrote Reb Scott and asked, "Have you ever seen anyone walking with something like this?" Her response was frank and sobering, she said she has seen pilgrims walking who are missing limbs.
So after my trek on Via Podiense last year and being questioned daily why I walked so slow, maybe you will see me in 2020 in Spain. I will just be walking shorter distances each day and much slower than everyone else.
The man with ill fitting shoes is made humble when he meets a man with no shoes.
The man with no shoes is humbled when he meets a man with no feet...

You are indeed blessed to have options, and friends to help you as you move forward...
Embrace the suck! Assess, adapt and overcome...
Ultreia y suseia!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
@MarkyD - it may be geographically longer, but as I began down that road, three Dutch pilgrims of my acquaintance began the trail route. Normally they passed me every day. I was sitting in the café in Molinaseca having coffee and tortilla when they stumbled into town. So I would argue that even at my plodding speed, the road is faster and my knees thank me for the added km.

Back to the theme, hard is relative.
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
Riego de Ambros to Molinaseca has always been 'hard'--slippery footing while wet, long downhill, already tired, dicey knees and ankles, etc.
That is, except the time I was just behind a group of French women who did the whole score of "Sound of Music". A magical camino moment that made the 'hard', 'easy'.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
How hard something is correlates to a persons comfort zone I think.
Nature
Nurture
Life experience or inexperience i hope to think are factors to how hard something will be.
Touching a spider? Will give me fear like no other
Really..and clowns...
But put me in an emergency situation? and all fear goes away.

Extending and expending life to go out of the comfort zone..having experienced travelors who tell it like it is helps those who have fears of the unknown..

Points to a map..here...there be dragons!!!
Other person..here, there is heat,cold,mountains and a lot of walking
1st person had trouble expanding out of their comfort zones and dint have quite the time
2nd person realistically assesses and defines to them..the experience.

Walking 500 miles s an idea is fun to think of in the comfort of the home

I hope to think that setting expectations and trying to get reality to meet and match those expectations is an exercise in folly..and hubris
What if is the variable and what is is the constant

How hard is it to face the barrier that the comfort zone is?
Extant virtues of following through with the original wills intent ...

I meant to do"it" but "it" got too hard.
What? Got too hard
The effort
The face of the unknown before them
Too many excuses not to get out of the comfortable and out the door i think.

Real physical,mental and emotional issues are more so.
The heroism to push past brings the peach pit to my throat and a tear or two because the sacrifice and effort are many times that of those without.
Pax.
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
We love - and live by - our labels, experiences and expectations.

Slow/fast up/down heavy/light easy/hard...

@VNwalking painted this human dilemma so beautifully with her description of how walking the same Way elicited such a different response each time.

The landscape remains the same beneath our feet and yet we experience an ever-changing vision of the ever constant view.

The Way is the way it has always been. It is we who bring the ‘hard’ into play.

What if is the variable and what is is the constant
The Camino generously provides the path along which we can walk out our ‘hards’ in whatever form they choose to manifest.

‘It is solved by walking’

...it is why I walk.
 

Redhead Keith

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francé: 2005: 2016
Inglés: 2017
Salvador: 2018: 2019
Primitivo: 2018: 2019
Often people post questions here, asking how difficult a particular camino is. Or they share in retrospect about a camino they found to be surprisingly hard.

But difficulty is like pain: unmeasurable in any objective way. Both are like asking 'How long is a piece of string?', or saying 'A piece of string is always 10 cm long.' Between people, there's no possibility of equivalence at all - so It's hardly a surprise when someone says they found a camino to be especially difficult for there to be slew of contradictory responses.

And even for each of us, difficulty is so subjective, depending on:
•Fitness
•Age
•Time of day
•Weather
•General health
•Rest
•State of mind and what side of the bunk we rolled out of that morning...

So 'hard' for any of us can vary from day to day and camino to camino - I've been surprised more than once to find a remembered hell-realm to be not so bad at all, and vice versa. And my state of mind is the key.

I remember coming up the Alto de Perdon the second time, dreading the descent I remembered as horrific. It was the same pile of rocks, but a different day - and I found it relatively easy.

Looking back on several caminos, what stands out for me in creating the experience of difficulty is the element of surprise. If I think the day will be a breeze, but it turns out to have a secret ascent or descent, that always seems much harder than a longer or steeper hill that I knew was coming.

Then there are the times when 'hard' happens someplace that had been easy before. Which is often because of gauzy camino memories - forgetting that there had been a killer hill there at all.

Anyone?
This was very recently a big point of discussion between me and my Camino Buddy (whilst on Camino). She was born and brought up in the Alps, and can stomp-up-or-down any ascent or descent. It is deffinately relative and subjective. However, for the first time in her life she developed shin splints, along the Primitivo.

What I find unpleasant is the attitude - a bit of a macho one, that no route is 'hard' or 'difficult', as some pilgrims occasionally express, the intonation being that those who find things so must be weak in some way.
Difficulties on Camino can also be experienced through the issues Camino raises as we are en-route, dealing with ingrained or recent problems in our lives. That can become very difficult for someone, either unexpectedly or as the reason for them being on Camino. I've been with pilgrims who find themselves having to deal with long forgotten dilemmas, begin dreaming about supressed issues. Its extraordinary the effect Camino can have upon us all, and how psychology can make things hard. But I find it wonderful that Camino can do that to us, and find ways to resolve these hard issues.
Best wishes.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
The Camino generously provides the path along which we can walk out our ‘hards’ in whatever form they choose to manifest.
Yes. Thanks, @Wokabaut_Meri !

And (hopefully) it teaches us to get over the tendency to make a big deal out of things that aren't actually a big deal.
 

mikebet

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to Pamplona (2016); Baiona to Santiago (2018); Sarria to Santiago (2018)
Yes, "hard" is a state of mind, but with respect to the Camino -- at least the parts I have walked -- it's a self-imposed hardship. The original peregrinos were totally intent on getting to Santiago de Compostela, and thus chose routes that were fastest and easiest. And they did a good job. There really isn't any part of the various Camino routes I know that could really be called difficult, even the SJPdP to Orisson slog. To be sure one CAN make a Camino walk into a hardship, but the only way to do that is to bite off oversized daily mileage chunks. I did some "hard" treks back when I was young and stupid -- the Inca Trail in Peru and the infamous Kokoda Trail in the jungles of New Guinea, both before the advent of local guides and trail markers -- and I ain't going back to that nohow. Give me a leisurely 20km stroll, munching on a bocadillo through beautiful scenery and charming villages, and then followed by a nice bottle of wine at the end of the day. I also have high expectations for the Via Francigena next spring.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
Its our limits that define us i think. Subjective and objective thoughts that make the fence between us and the world around.
Some people are tougher acting about obstacles because the obstacles are bigger than they are..yet they face them bravely and how they perceive being brave is from nature\nurture.
Some deprecate to hide experience or inexperience out of fear of perception of weakness.

Then you have those who really dont have any fear of hardship and simply trudge on and enjoy a month long walk.

Watch any person and see the track they follow, all the tells are there..I avoid webs...because spiders
Avoid certain dogs of any breed because bites
Avoid milk products because bad things happen quickly.

Some avoid walking because sweat,footsore,laziness or..
They have to\get to face themselves and all their demons

Physical,mental and emotional....they are all there and make"hard" a defined limit

Some limits are hard and fast
Some i think to some people are negotiable
Some folks dont see limits as an obstacle but waypoints

What is hard...
To this humble soul is watching people being defined by certain limits instead of finding the real limits. Because thats where growth lives
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
Its our limits that define us i think. Subjective and objective thoughts that make the fence between us and the world around.
Some people are tougher acting about obstacles because the obstacles are bigger than they are..yet they face them bravely and how they perceive being brave is from nature\nurture.
Some deprecate to hide experience or inexperience out of fear of perception of weakness.

Then you have those who really dont have any fear of hardship and simply trudge on and enjoy a month long walk.

Watch any person and see the track they follow, all the tells are there..I avoid webs...because spiders
Avoid certain dogs of any breed because bites
Avoid milk products because bad things happen quickly.

Some avoid walking because sweat,footsore,laziness or..
They have to\get to face themselves and all their demons

Physical,mental and emotional....they are all there and make"hard" a defined limit

Some limits are hard and fast
Some i think to some people are negotiable
Some folks dont see limits as an obstacle but waypoints

What is hard...
To this humble soul is watching people being defined by certain limits instead of finding the real limits. Because thats where growth lives
Hard could mean just difficult or strenuous, but for others hard could mean painful or damaging in some way.
I've found, and I'm still discovering, that hard can turn to soft or soft can turn to hard. If we have a 'hard' or 'closed' heart, or mental attitude even, then walking the Camino can have the effect of transforming this 'state' or condition that we might have. For example, my own personal moments of pain and grief (the hard/difficult sensations) while walking the Camino, gradually changed to joy, happiness, acceptance etc. (the soft/easy sensations).
Many limits we impose on ourselves (perhaps by being hard on others and soft on ourselves, or vice versa). Our imagination often seems limitless, whereas our daily lives can often feel limited. It depends on who you are, how you are and why you are; as to how much limitless energy and love we can bring to our daily lives.
There will always be challenges of one sort or another, and I believe this is what makes us who we are.
How much we are able to better ourselves, humble ourselves etc. , this determines how we are as people (not what we do, where we live, what we look like etc.)
Why we are is perhaps the most challenging question for many. Some have found answers, some think they have found answers and some are still looking for answers. The many 'hardships' and 'joys' along the way help provide us with some insight and answers, if we can only just let go of the definitions and accept life for what it is: a journey, one step at a time.
Just some rambling thoughts by a bloke on the path....
 

Redhead Keith

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francé: 2005: 2016
Inglés: 2017
Salvador: 2018: 2019
Primitivo: 2018: 2019
Yes. Thanks, @Wokabaut_Meri !

And (hopefully) it teaches us to get over the tendency to make a big deal out of things that aren't actually a big deal.
Yes - to put issues into perspective, even resolve them, and realise what we're capable of - even when our feet are covered in blisters or our aches and pains become surmountable.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
I think you are correct, but that descent from the Cruz de Ferro into Molinaseca sucked both times. My third time, I took the road.

Mindset, current level of fitness, weather, sunshine, nutrition status, fatigue, expectations all factor into perspective. It's all an opinion.

It's not like any of the camino is technically difficult. We don't need crampons, ropes and harnesses.
I walked with a very funny Hungarian women, who referred to every patch she didn’t like as “-::())$&Molineseca Road “
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Haha! Was that '-::())$&' all in Hungarian?
I bet her company made the time fly. Laughter has a way of diffusing 'hard.'
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
So agree with you @VNwalking and in fact I had that same experience with those @#$% rocks coming down the Alto de Perdon! I just loved Navarra the first time around in 2010 but I had awful blisters on that first Camino and walking down that hill with all those rocks was a b*itch. Low and behold last year at this time I repeated the Frances from SJPDP and I (blister free) zoomed down in a flash. Not that I was any fitter but without the physical pain of my feet to deal with, the descent seemed a piece of cake!

It is therefore so hard to give advice. What is your state of mind, your physical fitness, the weather at the time? etc. etc. All influence how we experience any stage of any Camino.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I remember my first time walking that long suburban slog into Leon and thinking it would never end. The third time I felt like I was flying. I think knowing what was around each bend and not being concerned about finding arrows made it a breeze.
 

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