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I made it one day- what I wished I had understood more clearly

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Past OR future Camino
Ingles (after Covid)
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2019) Camino Portuguese (2022)
Hi BrookGirl305

Everyone walks their own Camino. One hour, one day, one week, one month.

Did you walk to the top of the Rock? I did in November 2021 and it was HARD.... your description of Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga sounds easier than I found the climb to the top of the rock. Full disclosure; I took the cable car down....

Glad you were able to enjoy time in Gibraltar and the Queens Jubilee.

I loved the monkeys.... I use one of the pics I took of them as my phone screen saver; makes me smile every time I look at it.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
Thanks for the suggestions. I agree that the Camino is one of the hardest things I ever did overall in 45 days and unable to finish due to illness of mr partner. Each person must experience it for themselves and while this forum members provide input, it can't substitute for personal trial. I hope you enjoyed your journey overall.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, but good to hear you salvaged your trip.
I gotta disagree with the Camino to Appalachian Trail (or any actual wilderness hike) comparison. I have done both and I just don't see it. I found it to be a series of long daily walks, albeit on unimproved surface sometimes, but still not a hike in the traditional sense, and while some pilgrims do wild camp it's far from the norm and only a tiny percentage. So you literally only walked from Pamplona to Alto de Perdon? That's only about 12 kilometres. It's not possible to judge the entire Frances (almost 800 kilometres) based on that 12 kilometres.
I agree 100% on the bicyclists. That's a rant I've done here before. Unfortunately they're not going away so I advise all to walk defensively.
I agree with the money exchange. Total ripoff. Only did it twice because I had to and 100% do not recommend it. ATM and debit card best avenue.
As I've said on here before, you cannot be in too good a physical condition to walk the Camino (or any long distance hike, walk whatever) and if you're not able to walk any of it in the first place, it's not going to beat you into shape while you attempt it, it's simply going to wear you down and perhaps even injure you. If you're not able to walk 10 kilometres in a stretch before you go, you need to rethink.
I've said on here before, get a good guidebook and study it before you go. It explains everything. The elevations, road surfaces, hazardous spots etc. The cities and towns and their infrastructure and history. It seems like people would rather watch youtube videos instead showing just the entertainment value side or attempts at philosophical advice.
 

RobertS26

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, (2013)
Camino Frances, (2014)
Camino Frances, (2015)
Your post has swerved into a pet peeve of mine. Some well-meaning people post responses without taking the time to put their answers into context.

For example, a few years ago, someone asked how hard the climb out of SJPP was for the "average" person. Someone responded that she found the climb to be "remarkably easy." Her response caught me off guard, so I messaged her to get more information. I playfully asked her if she was a triathlete. She said no, but then added that she was a full-time aerobics instructor who had started walking in Le Puy instead of SJPP. Well, duh. An aerobics instructor, who had already been walking for three weeks, should find the walk out of SJPP to be remarkably easy. But she did not include that extremely important information in her response.

Another example regarded a question about the "best" way to get to SJPP from Seattle. One person simply responded, "We went through Milwaukie." Again, I found that terse answer extremely confusing because there is a direct flight from Seattle to Paris. Flying through Milwaukie would require at least two additional plane changes--thus doubling the time it took to get from Seattle to Paris. So, I messaged that person as well, and asked, "Why did you recommend flying through Milwaukie as the 'best' way to get from Seattle to SJPP?" The answer? "We flew through Milwaukie so we could visit friends at the airport while we waited for our flight to Detroit."

Again, the post asked for the best way to get from Seattle to SJPP, and a person responded, "we flew through Milwaukie." No context.

End of rant.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way.
On the forum, you can find many posts and threads with contrary opinions on all the points that you raised. Moderators do delete posts that are rude or otherwise violate the Rules. We do not delete polite on-topic posts just because they offer blunt advice.

Please note: Any further discussion of moderation should be done by private Conversaion to me or another moderator, per Rule 6.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
I am bit confused ... You were not planning to see the Cathedral in Santiago anyway because you had planned to walk for a week from Pamplona only or do I misread previous posts?

Good to hear that you had a good time in Gibraltar. Now spending the Platinum Jubilee 2022 four-day extravaganza among Her Majesty's loyal subjects there ... that is a truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Walking up to the Alto del Perdon can be done on any day of the year. :cool:
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.
Many posters describe difficulties of the Camino Frances on the basis of their own judgment and experience. Many do not realise that they are fitter than others because they walk more than others in their daily lives, have hiked more than others in their leisure time, live in a hilly town where they walk to the grocery shop and back unlike others, and so on. Read enough posts and this will become clear and you can figure out where you fit in on this wide spectrum.

However, there are some generally agreed standards, and one of them is that the Camino Frances is far from similar to the Appalachian Trail. In fact, it is the exact opposite of the AT, and that is one of the main factors why it attracts such a broad range of walkers these days. The CF is a long walk through cultural landscapes with a great infrastructure especially for physically not very fit walkers.

Your judgement about "no escape route" is based on a half-day experience of walking the 10 kilometres or so from the edge of the city of Pamplona to the NA-6056 road on top of the Sierra del Perdon ridge. I had a look at the map to refresh my memory: At no point are you further than 2 km - less than 1 1/2 miles - away from an inhabited village and/or a road that a taxi can take to pick you up. What many people seem to not know: If you want to stop or 'escape' you can go back - it doesn't have to be forwards. Of course, looking at a map may be helpful for this instead of "just follow the yellow arrows". Buen Camino wherever your roads will take you!
 
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F

Former member 99290

Guest
make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.
I am sorry your camino wasn’t what you’d hoped / expected.

As you’ve mentioned you hope your observations will help the next person - I would say - while most commentary is naturally subjective and based on each person’s experience -one aspect you can can readily get objective information about, in advance, is elevation and elevation over distance. For example, the elevation graphics are available for all stages of the Camino Frances on Gronze and there’s probably a similar graphic in just about every guide book or app. These graphics would clearly show the elevation over distance from Pamplona to Urtega.
 
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Ingles (after Covid)
To answer a couple of questions- I had one week available for personal time off and chose to walk the section between Pamplona and Logrono, braking that 4 days part into 6 shorter days, knowing my lower capabilities (you can do shorter stages). Yes, I "only" walked the 12k from Pamplona to AdP. At that point, my feet had exceeded what they were capable of and even though I had great cardio, great energy, and a great pack weight of about 6.2kg, my feet couldn't handle the walk (see the doctor if you have painful feet and take him seriously). When I got to the top, I knew I wasn't going to be able to do 5 more days and I had the internal debate of do I continue on with the steep descent into Uterga and my room at Casa de Perdon or go back to Pamplona? In the end, I chose to go back because continuing on to an albergue full of walkers and having a community dinner when I knew there was a strong chance I wouldn't walk the next day made me feel like a fraud. For context also, the rest of my unplanned tourist trip, I routinely walked 14km a day (same amount I had planned for the Camino), but it was stretched over a full day with breaks, meals, maybe a nap at the hotel :) rather than continuous. There's a difference.

Many of you responding are multiple camino walkers. I am not. Many visiting this board are not. I thought it might be helpful to post a not-so-happy ending as well. I fully expect this thread to be buried and long forgotten a month from now which is why I hesitated to post it to begin with.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I thought it might be helpful to post a not-so-happy ending as well.
We appreciate your account of your experience. As @RobertS26 noted above, the context is so important. We can understand your conclusions better when we know that they were based on that specific short section of the Camino. It is perhaps a good cautionary note about starting the Camino in Pamplona, and with pre-existing foot problems.
 

RENSHAW

Official Camino Vino taster
Past OR future Camino
2003 CF Roncesvalles to Santiago
2/4 weeks on the CF frequently.
Hospitalero San Anton June 2016.
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
A junior monk joined a retreat in Nepal , he had to take a vow of silence. Every four years he was able to voice three words to the Enlightened One. His first utterance was’bed Too hard’. After another four years, ‘not enough porridge ‘ and then finally’ I am leaving’.
To which the Enlightened One replied , ‘ I am not surprised, you have not stopped complaining since you got here.
You gave up too easily, there were many other options open to you and immediately after Alto there are stretches that are an absolute breeze.
To be blunt , the Camino was ready for you but you were not ready for the Camino.
I do pick up a hint of humor in your post so who knows?
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
The Camino is not for everybody. Nice to see someone self-aware enough to admit to that in public.
Many hundreds of people decide against the Camino in those first few miles of Navarra. We should be grateful they didn't "gut it out" and moan and criticize the whole way to Santiago, as some are wont to do.
 

Len Dacombe

Len from Canada
Past OR future Camino
April/May 2015 & September 2015
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
Agreed. When I walked the Frances in 2015, my new found friend and walking partner (Alex from Brazil) agreed that if we ever won a lottery, we would both go back to the Camino and hand out free bells to the cyclists who were too cheap to put one on their bike. We also agreed that we would also install hooks in the showers in the Albergues that didn’t have any in the shower stalls. It was staggering how few showers had hooks for your clothing!

The climb out of SJPP and Descent into Roncevalles was an extremely challenging day for me and I know I’m not alone. It stretched me physically and spiritually. It was the worst day 😩 and the best day 🙏. I would dive into how it was also the best day spiritually for me, but then this comment would get yanked by a Moderator for me being too “Evangelistic”. The Camino was and is a religious pilgrimage right?. 🤔
 
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Henriettagal

Henriettagal
Past OR future Camino
April 18, 2017
The climb out of SJPP and Descent into Roncevalles was an extremely challenging day for me and I know I’m not alone. It stretched me physically and spiritually. It was the worst day 😩 and the best day
Agreed! I read several guide books before going and I knew that at age 65 the first day from SJPP to Roncevalles was going to kick my butt. And it did...except I took my time. I discovered the importance of stopping every 2 hours to take my boots and socks off, rest, hydrate and ponder the views. I had 30 days to walk and I wanted to complete the Camino to Santiago. It's a pilgrimage. A challenge. Patience is everything and I'm not generally a patient person (My lesson #1 of many learned on the Camino). I walked the entire Camino including Muxia and Finisterre in May 2017. My biggest accomplishment since I gave birth to my kids nearly 40 years before. Well worth the effort. I'm sorry your (Bookgirl305) trek didn't go well. Reading the guidebooks REALLY helps you be thoroughly informed before starting.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
Your post has swerved into a pet peeve of mine. Some well-meaning people post responses without taking the time to put their answers into context.

For example, a few years ago, someone asked how hard the climb out of SJPP was for the "average" person. Someone responded that she found the climb to be "remarkably easy." Her response caught me off guard, so I messaged her to get more information. I playfully asked her if she was a triathlete. She said no, but then added that she was a full-time aerobics instructor who had started walking in Le Puy instead of SJPP. Well, duh. An aerobics instructor, who had already been walking for three weeks, should find the walk out of SJPP to be remarkably easy. But she did not include that extremely important information in her response.

Another example regarded a question about the "best" way to get to SJPP from Seattle. One person simply responded, "We went through Milwaukie." Again, I found that terse answer extremely confusing because there is a direct flight from Seattle to Paris. Flying through Milwaukie would require at least two additional plane changes--thus doubling the time it took to get from Seattle to Paris. So, I messaged that person as well, and asked, "Why did you recommend flying through Milwaukie as the 'best' way to get from Seattle to SJPP?" The answer? "We flew through Milwaukie so we could visit friends at the airport while we waited for our flight to Detroit."

Again, the post asked for the best way to get from Seattle to SJPP, and a person responded, "we flew through Milwaukie." No context.

End of rant.
I can't agree with everything you said more. But especially people who say something is easy or hard. I just posted my thoughts with someone else who said they left at 9:30AM was in Orisson in 2 hours and then had a pleasant stroll to Roncesvalles. For this pilgrim ok, for many others this is not a pleasant stroll. He also said you should push yourself. This especially for a new pilgrim who has never walked before possibly the worst advice you can give a person. FInally he said not to be psyched out by elevation maps and they appear the way they do to scare pilgrims. Of course they are to scale and if you had a larger map with more spacing between kilometers the sloops would appear far less steep.
I mentioned in my post how I trained with a friend who was a triathelite and was in the best shape in the last 20 years before my first camino. I was 59 at the time and that first day nearly killed me. Three years later at 62 I walked from Le Puy. The first couple of weeks were as brutal as they were beautiful. But when I got to SJPP. I walked up to Orisson with a friend eating a big box of french pastries. Only stopped to pee and drink some water to wash the pastries down, and I barely broke a sweat. Yes context and all the facts count!
 

JudyWanaWander

New Member
Past OR future Camino
PlanFuture(2020)
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
Thank you for this excellent advice. Most people would have just tucked their tail between their legs and not said anything but you were honest. Congratulations for getting to the top of AdP!
 

Bainbridge

New Member
Past OR future Camino
September 2022
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
Thanks for your post--very helpful. You wrote: "At no point are you further than 2 km - less than 1 1/2 miles - away from an inhabited village and/or a road that a taxi can take to pick you up." I have been trying to find numbers for taxi services and have not yet found ones that pick up as needed. Do you have recommendations? Thanks!'
 

Dlomiller05

New Member
Past OR future Camino
(2018)
BookGirl--

Thank you for your post.

We walked from Madrid to Sahagún in 2019. It occurred to me somewhere around Day 3, that when reading the forum posts, I should have paid more attention to the different route categories. I was often operating from information that was given regarding the French way, and while good information, it was entirely wrong for my situation.

To be clear--I am not saying you did this! Rather once I figured out all Camino routes were not the same, it became easier to figure my own walk out. So, again, thank you for your story. It will help many people.

I'm glad you reached the point that was most important to you. It is your walk, after all, and no one else's.

Buen Camino, my book loving friend.
 
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PadreQ

Member
Past OR future Camino
Primitivo 2021
You are the only one who can make the call whether to continue or to step back. I noticed that you have indicated walking the Ingles as an aspiration. It too can be a real challenge if you are not prepared. Even though it can be done in manageable length stages, there's a fair amount of asphalt walking, and some pretty intense ups and downs.
 

DoughnutANZ

I would rather be fishing
Past OR future Camino
2023
Hi @BookGirl305

Yes, feet are key to successfully walking your Camino and sore feet can either stop you or torture you.

It isn't clear to me if you knew that you had a tendon issue before you walked from Pamplona or after.

Nor is it clear if your shoes were any part of the problem.

One of the things that I regularly read on the forum that is given as advice for first time, distance walkers is to walk 12-15 kilometers a day for several days in a row in the shoes that you will use and wearing the backpack that you will use before you leave home.

I don't know if you did this or not and it probably doesn't make much difference now anyway. You made decisions that worked for you in a situation where you were in some considerable discomfort, good for you for doing that.

The reason that the advice is regularly given is that, obviously, it is easier to get help and find solutions if you stress test your body and your shoes before you leave.

I did stress test my body and shoes before I left and I was able to sort some minor issues with my shoes and while my walk up the Pyrenees and a few days later up to Alto del Perdón got my heart beating and I needed to stop to rest a number of times on both climbs, neither climb was something that had me thinking about stopping.

For context, I was aged 66, male and over weight but I had been walking daily for around three months prior. Initially when I started walking I struggled with 5 kilometers but I gradually increased my distances until I was comfortable walking 15 klms every day. There are also some useful hills around where I live and while none of them even comes close to the approx 400m gain up to Alto del Perdón they are steep enough to get my heart and lungs working hard.

I don't know how far I would have got if I had not done that walking in the months before I left and had I not sorted out my shoe issues before I left.

In summary, I think that your post is a useful reminder for people who don't regularly walk that getting practice before leaving home can make the Camino experience much more enjoyable and so thank you for your useful contribution to future walkers.
 
Past OR future Camino
2018
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
Thank you for your post. I just returned from walking the Camino Frances (400 km). Many of your observations line up with mine. I always marvelled at the wide varities of opinion regarding a certain section. We want information but also, it is a good reminder that all conditions are not the same, the weather, our equipment, our spirit, and our physical condition. What might have been a difficult day for me, may have been an easy one for another. The problem with any forum boards is that you can't account for the differences. I always think this about questions like, "Should I bring a sleeping bag or a liner"? Well, I have now hiked in two very different seasons, in two very different years. One was so hot I had to adjust my plans and skip the meseta. I came back in the spring and did the meseta and it was cold and windy. In both cases my sleeping bag choice varied. You don't always know the variables. So, you have to decide what you are willing to carry and if you are generally a cold sleeper or not. There are so many other variables even around that, roomsize, how many people sharing air space, windows, time of year. This time I sent my sleeping back back and two days later knew it was a big mistake. I could have bought another when I hit a larger city but, I managed. I guess I say all this to say, forums are about generalities. I do agree that consistently people say things that have not been my experience.

You are right about getting out of bookings. I found that I had made an error in calculation and was one day off, so I needed to do a major adjustment. I was glad I had not pre-booked the whole thing. But, there were some bookings that I just had to eat the expense of the change. Pre-booking doesn't account for injuries or days where you may need a stop. And if they are done totally ahead, you do no have the choice to listen to your own body and adjust your km per day/per conditions of the day. You can adjust with taxis or buses if you can find them. It is true, you may be only a couple of km off a major route but, you might not find a taxi or the buses may not be coming for a long time. It isn't that easy to find avenues of transportation to account for these things in many spots. That is the truth, unless someone has an app with super powers.

The last thing that I would say is that it took me several days to 'get my legs' and the walking for me changed. My anxiety also lessened and I got into the grove of things. I am not an athlete, I am an active 62 year old who wanted the camino's challenge and also the joys. I found both. I am glad you were able to redeem your experience. Sometimes, I think we don't know if we are ready or not for something until we start in and it sounds like you found your way, along the way. All the best.
 

Joe Walsh

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragonés, VDLP, Madrid, Portugues, Norte
Thanks BookGirl.
 

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david g

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
camino frances/finistere sept 2012
Frances May 2015
Aragones/Portugese May 2016
Primitivo July 2017
Sorry the Camino didn’t turn out how you wanted but i don’t see how suggesting training for hills or that you can walk your own pace is “consistently bad advice”. Training for hills is absolutely important. Being told this on the forum, and thereby you being aware, you could have on your own gone to a parking garage or wherever and gone up flight after flight of stairs as training. Pilgrims shouldnt need to be told specifically every tiny little thing to do, though it seems to me that’s becoming more of the norm. (Everyone is afraid of making a mistake) I saw the Camino forum info I received before my first walk ten years ago as a general outline of what to expect with me filling in the blanks a I saw fit.
 
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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Regarding: The bicycles and horns - I couldn't agree with you more on this topic.
If nothing else, all a cyclist could/should do is verbally notify of their impending approach from the rear. We have almost been struck several times here on the Norte.
A $5 horn could eliminate a $50,000 hospital stay !!!
 

frannie z

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
On the forum, you can find many posts and threads with contrary opinions on all the points that you raised. Moderators do delete posts that are rude or otherwise violate the Rules. We do not delete polite on-topic posts just because they offer blunt advice.

Please note: Any further discussion of moderation should be done by private Conversaion to me or another moderator, per Rule 6.
I have been following this website for two years... I didn't know there were rules. And your use of the word "moderation" is confusing. I'm an American [and I apologize if this is blunt] but do you mean any criticism of posts should be put into a private conversation? If yes, I wouldn't know how to contact a moderator. Perhaps you could share some insight and please send me a private message if you feel that's a better way to reply. Most appreciatively, Frannie
 

SabineP

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
I have been following this website for two years... I didn't know there were rules. And your use of the word "moderation" is confusing. I'm an American [and I apologize if this is blunt] but do you mean any criticism of posts should be put into a private conversation? If yes, I wouldn't know how to contact a moderator. Perhaps you could share some insight and please send me a private message if you feel that's a better way to reply. Most appreciatively, Frannie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have been following this website for two years... I didn't know there were rules.

Hi, Frannie Z, My guess is that you didn’t know there were rules because they are for the most part really nothing more than a set of good manners. There are also a few forum-specific rules that prevent out-of-control discussions that always turn ugly — particularly bull-fighting, religion (with an allowance made to reflect the fact that the camino is after all a religious pilgrimage for some), and politics.


The reference to criticism is a reference to criticism of the moderators’ decisions — if you disagree, write to us, we can talk about it if we have deleted a post of yours saying it was rude or got into politics, etc etc. But just don’t start complaining publicly on the forum, because it is just not productive. It’s not that we think we are infallible, just that these discussions are better done off-line.

To contact a moderator, all you have to do is click on one of our names and you will see the option to “start a conversation.”

Disagreement and sharing of strongly held differing opinions is an important part of the forum, but the hard part is trying to keep the discussion from heading off into rudeness and sniping.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
I have been following this website for two years... I didn't know there were rules. And your use of the word "moderation" is confusing. I'm an American [and I apologize if this is blunt] but do you mean any criticism of posts should be put into a private conversation? If yes, I wouldn't know how to contact a moderator. Perhaps you could share some insight and please send me a private message if you feel that's a better way to reply. Most appreciatively, Frannie
You don’t find the moderators; they find you. 😁
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
do you mean any criticism of posts should be put into a private conversation?
Just to echo what @peregrina2000 says...

Criticism of posts is certainly allowed, as long as it is not rude and follows the rules. Public criticism or discussion of moderator decisions is not allowed.

You can contact the moderator team by using the "Report" function. Or, you can send a Conversation to an individual moderator. We are listed as "Staff members" on this page but have "Moderator" under all our profile pictures.

Thanks for asking!
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
Thanks for your post--very helpful. You wrote: "At no point are you further than 2 km - less than 1 1/2 miles - away from an inhabited village and/or a road that a taxi can take to pick you up." I have been trying to find numbers for taxi services and have not yet found ones that pick up as needed. Do you have recommendations? Thanks!'
Open Google maps, click on locate, click on public transport.
Or just keep your eyes open as you walk. Local taxi drivers seem to have posted stickers, boards and wooden plaques advertising their temptations at roughly 50 m intervals along the entire Camino from Norway to Fisterra. I was particularly fond of the local wag in Galicia whose number was 666 IMGP2002.jpg 😉
 
Last edited:

Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
Just finished my Camino aged 77 and I’m here to tell the tale (from a beautiful evening in Santiago). I planned really short stages (10 to 12 kms where possible) and took a bus across the Meseta. My biggest grouse, as raised by others, are the cyclists. They should be banned from narrow paths and made to stick to the roads. There are enough Guarda Civil patrolling the route to enforce this. Secondly, as has been discussed ad infinitum on this forum, is the lack of public toilets. I was delighted to see some at Monte de Gozo, so why not elsewhere? Spain must address this issue, given the high numbers of people doing the Camino now. However, I’ve had a wonderful time: I could turn around and do it all again!
 

frannie z

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
I appreciate this post. It reminds me that being prepared includes researching multiple sites/reading/speaking to folks who have already walked. Thank you.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
To add to what @peregrina2000 and @C clearly wrote about how moderation works on the forum - we moderators do not read every thread or post. We aren't lying in wait eager to pounce. Mostly we act on reports from the general membership. You can see at the bottom of every post there is a "report" button. Anyone can report something that they think runs afoul of the forum rules.

Sometimes we delete posts based on reports. Sometimes the complaint is very trivial and if the post doesn't go against the rules it is left alone. Occasionally we will weigh in on a thread to remind people to keep it on track.
 
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Rita Flower

Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
I made it one day- Pamplona to the top of Alto de Perdon. Back home now and mulling it over, there are things I wish had been clearer before I left.
And before I get too far- I take full responsibility for not fully understanding. But I do need to let y'all know there were multiple places where bad advice was consistently given. This forum is wonderful with encouragement but quite often takes it to an extreme and deletes posts that are more blunt answers. A number of the moderators perceive that as rude or negative and delete posts that truly are helpful in a smack-you-awake way. Sometimes one needs a bit less cheerleader and a bit more tough love.

"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

And some of my observations that may help the next person:

- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

- changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.

- there is a difference between sore feet and painful feet. If your feet are painful before you leave, please see a doctor and take their advice seriously. I turned out to have fallen arches from a posterior tibial tendon injury. While it doesn't interfere in everyday life, it will be a while before I can consider walking long distances and this particular injury only shows itself once you've exceeded the distance quota your foot will tolerate. If your feet are sore, good. If your feet hurt- get them checked before committing to going.

- I prebooked my private rooms. Only one place, Albergue Maralotx in Ciraqui, wouldn't let me out of my booking and charged me for my room. I notified them approx 36 hours ahead and they require 48. Heads up.

In the end, I got to the top of AdP, took my picture (not a happy one), and called a cab back to Pamplona, then got on the first interesting looking train. I ended up in Gibraltar with the monkeys and hung out with the Brits for the start of the Jubilee. The spooky thing though, is when I think back on what I had in my mind's eye for the Camino, it was never the cathedral at the end. It was always the statue at the top of AdP. So, maybe I was only meant to walk one day. Maybe that was my Camino.
The map is not the territory. The book/forum is not the experience. My list of things I didn't know on both my past Caminos is long. And will also be long for my upcoming Via del la Plata in Sept. I will be 71 and I won't really know till I get there.
Congratulations for even getting to your starting point. Extra congratulations for your Camino day. What a blast!!!! Just one day is an incredible blessing.
For me the Camino is about learning about myself, for better or worse, doing the best I can and being open to the blessings of the Camino as they arise (knowing that blessings can sometimes look like challenges or that something has gone wrong)
PS. On the third day of the CF starting at SJPP I ended at the lunch table with some new Camino friends sobbing my heart out saying I can't do this - it's too hard. They fortified me with coffee and encouragement and I go at to Pamplona where I literally divided my pack in two and sent half home.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
X
Getting ready for my third Camino I only just realised that in days of old we would have all been an a carriage or on a horse. Queen Isabella certainly wouldn't have walked from Lisbon. Only the poor walked with their belongings on their backs.
Been Camino
When many of us imagine history we assume we would have been on the horse. My family would have been clearing up after someone else’s horse.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
Getting ready for my third Camino I only just realised that in days of old we would have all been an a carriage or on a horse. Queen Isabella certainly wouldn't have walked from Lisbon. Only the poor walked with their belongings on their backs.
Been Camino
Well, sort of: indeed Queen Isabella likely didn’t walk. An horse or a carriage or a palenquin for her. A horse or a mule for a knight or a bishop. Those sentenced to pilgrimage by parochial courts; those offering pilgrimage in atonement for venery, manslaughter or in exchange for alleviation of tithe. They walked every sweaty, dusty, muddy, frozen step of the way from their parish to Santiago. And the lucky survivors walked all the way home again.
The families of those that didn’t make it home? Well sometimes they sent the eldest surviving son to try and prove the pilgrimage had been completed- otherwise there would be a tithe debt that would wipe out the family fortune. The sailing masters who shipped Pilgrims from my home port to the north coast of Spain to hike the “English” way faced heavy fines if they didn’t bring all their outbound passengers back. There are records of the complaints regarding the return to England with a “stinking corpse in the company”.

I’m not clear who you’re including in that “we who would have all been in a carriage”. I’m sure you’re not suggesting we’re all on holiday.
 

TinaPEI

Member
Past OR future Camino
Hopefully sometime....
Ok.... I have walked once. Can I just say OP, you have given THE BEST piece of advice that I have ever seen? I love in Prince Edward Island. We have no mountains, some small hills, and I struggled with walking up hill and the elevation. I will be walking up the local parking garage to train for my next Camino (who knows when!). I think we have three garages on the Island. Not sure the air quality would be too nice, but at least they are not completely enclosed. Thank youfor the brilliant advice!
 
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Barbarbaranne

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances
Agreed. When I walked the Frances in 2015, my new found friend and walking partner (Alex from Brazil) agreed that if we ever won a lottery, we would both go back to the Camino and hand out free bells to the cyclists who were too cheap to put one on their bike. We also agreed that we would also install hooks in the showers in the Albergues that didn’t have any in the shower stalls. It was staggering how few showers had hooks for your clothing!

The climb out of SJPP and Descent into Roncevalles was an extremely challenging day for me and I know I’m not alone. It stretched me physically and spiritually. It was the worst day 😩 and the best day 🙏. I would dive into how it was also the best day spiritually for me, but then this comment would get yanked by a Moderator for me being too “Evangelistic”. The Camino was and is a religious pilgrimage right?. 🤔
Historically yes, currently for some.
 

ktchnofdngr

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
September '13, June '16, July '21, And July '22
As someone who has had her Camino modified/slightly derailed every time she has walked (tendinitis in both feet), I can totally empathize with what it feels like in that moment when you have to stop/get transportation/reassess what to do. It is why I will be biking my coming Camino. Yes, I have a bell!

It kinda makes me sad that I need to do this, because I love the camaraderie that comes with walking with my fellow pilgrims. They have more than once been a resource for me, and have even done things like given me taxi numbers or help with language issues. And yet, your body has its own limits. Knowing them is one of the biggest blessings you can get.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t a pilgrim.

Buen Camino!
 

dbier

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Last 114km Camino Frances, Jul 21
2023 - Camino P
Dear BookGirl,

Having suffered from tendinitis post foot injury (cracked a foot bone in my instep stepping off a large rock in shoes without a shank or Rock plate...anyway), I want to validate your experience. After my initial injury, I rested my foot for a couple of days, and thought I was better. Until my next half marathon. Then I limped for two weeks. Thought I was better..until I did another half marathon. Then, I limped for three weeks.

Since I *wasn't* walking multiple kilometers every day, it took me 6 months of walk/hurt/repeat until I saw a podiatrist. Four taping sessions at a week each plus about 6 months of special orthotics, and I'm finally better, though the area can be touchy if I'm not careful .

I really appreciate your postings, and hope you'll come back.
 

Rita Flower

Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
Well, sort of: indeed Queen Isabella likely didn’t walk. An horse or a carriage or a palenquin for her. A horse or a mule for a knight or a bishop. Those sentenced to pilgrimage by parochial courts; those offering pilgrimage in atonement for venery, manslaughter or in exchange for alleviation of tithe. They walked every sweaty, dusty, muddy, frozen step of the way from their parish to Santiago. And the lucky survivors walked all the way home again.
The families of those that didn’t make it home? Well sometimes they sent the eldest surviving son to try and prove the pilgrimage had been completed- otherwise there would be a tithe debt that would wipe out the family fortune. The sailing masters who shipped Pilgrims from my home port to the north coast of Spain to hike the “English” way faced heavy fines if they didn’t bring all their outbound passengers back. There are records of the complaints regarding the return to England with a “stinking corpse in the company”.

I’m not clear who you’re including in that “we who would have all been in a carriage”. I’m sure you’re not suggesting we’re all on holiday.
I was thinking that most of us today who can afford the time and money are a very lucky relative few I’m terms of world populations and the inequality that abounds. What if people who were found guilty of a crime today might be given a Camino walk as punishment rather than jail.
Really my post was just a reflection on how hard I have been in myself in my expectations of what makes a ‘proper’ Camino. No foul intended and much love to those who I might have offended.
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I was thinking that most of us today who can afford the time and money are a very lucky relative few I’m terms of world populations and the inequality that abounds. What if people who were found guilty of a crime today might be given a Camino walk as punishment rather than jail.
Really my post was just a reflection on how hard I have been in myself in my expectations of what makes a ‘proper’ Camino. No foul intended and much love to those who I might have offended.
I got what you said. I didn't think it was offensive at all. No need to apologize.
I've often said that anybody who has the time and resources and money to be able to walk the Camino is quite blessed, and should remember all those out there who want so dearly to walk it but never will, whether due to age, physical condition/illness or economics.
I gripe about petty BS like the bicyclists, litterers and graffiti but at the end of the day I know just how blessed I am and give thanks and pray that all that want to walk it will someday.
 

Cynistra

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2019)
"you can do shorter stages/you can go at your own pace"- I had planned to go at my speed of 15-20K a day. Not always possible. Not every km equals another. And when you find yourself in too deep, there's no way to get off the trail and take a break. Quite literally, there were not many places to take a break.

"it's just a long walk. There's no camping or anything"- wrong. The Camino would be better presented to new folks as similar to the Appalachian Trail- it is rocky, it has mountainous ascent, and there's no escape route if you overshoot your ability.

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

First of all, congratulations for starting your Camino! For every person who stops before they reach Santiago, there's about 20 who daydreamed and never got that far.
Also, I applaud your willingness to stop when your body told you "enough" and your bravery in publicly admitting it. I do believe sometimes only the success stories get posted as people who don't make it are too ashamed they didn't do what they set out to do and therefore not being willing to tell their stories.

That being said though... I will admit I am one of the persons that will recommend the Camino as an easy long distance walk (and I will continue to do so). In case you think I'm some sort of superfit person... When I left to do the Camino Frances from Roncesvalles I weighed 22 stone (140kg) and let assure me that was not muscles....

The reality is you CAN do shorter stages and take breaks. My experience going on your exact stage was: leave Pamplona cathedral early in the morning (as in, around 5am - I very much am an early riser). Stop in Cizur Menor (5km) for breakfast. Stop in Zarequiegui (another 6km) for a hot chocolate. Get to Alto del Perdon (2.4km onwards), take a big sigh of relief I made it to the top and hang out there for a bit, taking photos. Slowly, slooowly make the descent into Uterga (3.8km from Alto do perdon). Have lunch there, looking at the height profile and knowing it's relatively flat from now on, and then just ford forwards to Puenta la Reina. (In the remaining 6.5km to Puenta la Reina there is 2 more places you could stop for a drink/break I believe).

So yes, it IS easy... in the context of long distance walks. You don't need to camp (and thus, you don't need to carry a tent/mattress). There is villages usually every 5/8km where you can resupply, so you don't need to carry any food and only minimal water. Food and water is usually by far the heaviest in your pack and being able to eliminate that makes a big difference.

I'm sorry you overestimated your own ability to do the Camino, but I'm afraid in saying it's similar to the Appalachian trail you are again overestimating the difficulty of what you've already done. In case you're curious, Pamplona -Alto do Perdon is 13.5km, with a height incline of about 450m in total. The Appalachian Approach Trail (to the official start in Springer Mountain) is 13.4km, with a height incline of about 950m.

Finally, relying purely on forums what you will by definition get is SUBJECTIVE information. How easy/difficult was this FOR ME, the person responding to this question. You should always also look at the objective information as well - what is the distance, and what are the height meters (which people seem to forget about...). How steep is the incline (going up 200m over 4km is much, much easier than going up 200m over a distance of 1km).
And then relate this information back to walks you have done - how easy do you find it to do distances, how easy do you find it to do inclines. For me, I know walking on the flat is easy and I can do long distances there with no problems. I also know I struggle with inclines more than most people, so allow myself extra time and breaks for this.
The one thing that is a bit harder to take into account is the terrain - walking on a nice even wide path is far easier than rocky, uneven terrain which will take longer for the same height meters/ distance. The camino at points is definitely rocky, but again this is a case of "what am I comparing it to". I will admit having done a few long distance hikes with much more difficult terrain since, I wouldn't think to warn anyone about the camino being rocky....
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Of course, kudos to @BookGirl305 for posting about her experience. I know for certain, and could even name them, that Camino pilgrims give up on their endeavour during the first few days between SJPP and Pamplona, either because of early injury or because they realise that the physical effort is higher and different from what they thought beforehand, or drop out later after Pamplona and before they even reach Burgos and they rarely post on the forum. What I can't tell is whether the first post in this thread is saying "I wish I had informed myself better" or "The forum should have informed me better". The forum is what it is: social media. It is by far one of the better examples but still: People are here to chat, to share experience and knowledge or plans or a joke when they feel like it or have the time for it, or they will not write a comment at all and click to read the next post when that is what they feel like. I agree with this sentiment:

Pilgrims shouldnt need to be told specifically every tiny little thing to do, though it seems to me that’s becoming more of the norm.

By way of an example: The ascent to the Alto del Perdon is eminently doable. I know it because I decided, after chatting with a group in the bar in Zariquieguy, to show a member of this group how to walk slowly. Seeing his huffing and puffing and frequent stops, I decided to walk with him and pace him and force him to go slower than what he would have done on his on. Out of breadth after a few steps, overweight, older, from Florida btw, he had not trained unlike his wife who had zoomed off ahead of us, and I don't remember whether he had 2 or 3 or 4 bypasses. I made him walk slowly but continuously and without stops. I did not say so but I thought: Why are you here and why are you doing this to yourself? Would you not be better off if you went to Santiago leisurely by car or by bus with the occasional walk in between? I later learnt that the couple had given up after 150 miles in total, counted from SJPP. Why do I bring this up? Because of this:

"make sure to include some training on hills"- Instead, this would have been helpful- "go to a parking garage and gear up. climb until you hit 7 miles/12km (however one is measuring). If you run out of parking garage, take the elevator to the bottom and start again until your distance is reached. Now, go back down 2 1/2 miles/4km- that will mimic the walk from Pamplona over the mountain to Uterga" that specifity would have been much more helpful.

Not sure how to understand this. Is "hill training" or "stairs training" really required? Isn't it a reasonable level of cardiovascular fitness that is required? You can train and improve this in many ways, you don't have to go up and down somewhere, that is just one way to train. And besides, this advice has been given on the forum numerous times, and even recently:

Thread started on March 25, 2022: Fitness Plan Six Weeks Out for Camino Francés. Quote:

On non-hike days we did exercise biking, swimming, resistance bands. In really bad weather, or really hot (85+ degrees F) we walked in parking garages to limit sun exposure and those garages are warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Thread started on Nov, 2021: Physical prep. Quote:

In retrospect I should have done what others have done here and train going up and down bleachers or garage ramps and I think that would have helped.
My guess is that this forum contains any possible and useful advice that can possibly be given to physically prepare for walking the Camino Frances. The advice is there but you may have to look for it. Don't expect it to be served to you on a silver platter.
 
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CJane

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances,Portuguese, Ingles
I’ve just returned from Camino Ingles, my third Camino (Frances and Portuguese completed 2017, 2019). I’m 70, with a 2 yr. diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, which impacts movement and balance and speed. As such, my friend and I took the 5-6 day walk and completed it in 11 days. We were really stopping and smelling the roses.! It was one of the hardest physical things I’d ever done. I had to rest often and thought fondly of the days of O Cebreiro and the Pyrenees which were tiring but not overwhelmingly fatiguing. At one of my rest stops, a 70+ year old Sardinian stopped to chat. He was on his 14th Camino. We congratulated him, and he said, “every Camino is your first”. Those words remained with me for the rest of my Camino, my first with PD. It accompanies the phrase “everyone’s Camino is their own”. I knew I would have to adapt what had worked before, in order to be successful this time. All of the advice given here is valuable—you have to determine how it fits with your personal Camino😀
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
10/22 Aragones/Frances
changing money at the airport is a ripoff since Covid. I am used to paying 15% at the airport and about 8% later from an ATM. This time I took cash. The exchange wanted a 30% commission. I passed and hit the ATM at an 18% rate that only dropped to 12% outside.
If you can open a Schwab account. I have one for my investments. I have my own bank also. But when I am doing the Camino or for that matter when I am out of the country I make sure I have enough cash funds in my Schwab account to cover me. Whatever fees and charges you receive from any ATM bank is refunded back to you by Schwab. I take my bank ATM as a backup of course. You never know when your card may be eaten or other issues.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I don't recall how many dozen of times I've read the recommendation for travellers from the USA to Spain to get a Schwab account and benefit from their no ATM fees 😂. And, of course, you don't exchange your hand-held US dollars into Euros, neither in an airport nor in a Spanish bank. You use your credit card or debit card to get your Euros from a standard bank-owned ATM - which you can definitely find at Madrid Barajas airport. I am starting to wonder whether people are unfamiliar with methods of how to search the forum efficiently?

Just as an example: Type money exchange into the search box and click on Search title only. Or click on the tag with the label money/banking/budget (see below). Then pick appropriate threads from the list of results. This is one of the big advantages of this forum: Unlike on FB Camino groups where it's just short quick question and short quick replies and they have scrolled out of sight in no time, here on this forum you can really tap into the collective knowledge and mine it to your benefit, either through the search function, the tag function or the structured organisation of all the threads into topic-specific forums and subforums.

tags.jpg

search title.jpg
 
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Past OR future Camino
Ingles (after Covid)
Katharina, read my original post. I clearly said- I normally pull money out via ATM but this time had cash. After they quoted a 30% exchange rate, I used the ATM after all. Your post “reads” very condescending. I’m sure it’s not intended that way, but it does. I included that segment because the rates being charged by both the cash exchange and the ATM are far, far above what they were pre-Covid. While a Charles Schwab account may reimburse you ATM fees , for many people the hassle of opening up an additional bank account and finding it with a minimum balance simply to avoid $30 in ATM fees is not worth the hassle. Of course, Charles Schwab would prefer you move all your banking over to them based on no fee- that’s the point of the account. If someone hasn’t traveled since Covid and isn’t aware of the fee hikes both human and electronic at the Madrid airport, they are now. Thank you
 
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Next up 2022?
30% exchange rate
That's mind-boggling.
Here's a recent article with options to avoid the rip-offs.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I really do feel that both the Search function with its many options and especially the Tag function are undervalued and ought to be used more and better known. Especially the Tag function because as far as I can tell, the tags are largely created, and most certainly managed, by the forum moderators - it is some of their work 'behind the scenes' that gets done unnoticed.
 

backpack45

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Vezelay (2017, in progress); Primitivo & Norte; Geneva/LePuy; Arles; Portuguese; Francés + more
I am sorry that your Camino experience did not go well; if you do go back, what you have learned should help you be better prepared to handle any hardship.
For any "newbies" out there, I'd like to add the following: As someone who has read several books about, and knows many people who have hiked it, I can safely say that there is no way that the Camino is anywhere near as difficult as the Appalachian Trail.
I hiked the Camino in 2001 (and wrote a book about my experiences--combining facts and subjective comments.) I think newbies should read some guidebooks, talk to some veteran hikers, and read some forums before going.
As far as training, I find training by hiking invaluable before my Camino hikes. And when I don't do enough of it, I have learned that the first few days will be difficult (I am now 81). I have shed many tears! Others may not agree, but going up steps in a parking garage could be useful (I personally would find it far too boring to continue). However, climbing stairs for seven miles is far more work than anything required on the Camino. What one could do is climb some flights and then and walk around on the floors in between the parking garage levels. Besides, the Camino is not all climbing or descending, there are relatively flat areas and hikers will find the terrain much different than a level set of stairs in a garage. One will find the Camino has rocky, muddy, or uneven terrain at times and the weather much different. Buen Camino!
 

Barbara

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Just finished my Camino aged 77 and I’m here to tell the tale (from a beautiful evening in Santiago). I planned really short stages (10 to 12 kms where possible) and took a bus across the Meseta. My biggest grouse, as raised by others, are the cyclists. They should be banned from narrow paths and made to stick to the roads. There are enough Guarda Civil patrolling the route to enforce this. Secondly, as has been discussed ad infinitum on this forum, is the lack of public toilets. I was delighted to see some at Monte de Gozo, so why not elsewhere? Spain must address this issue, given the high numbers of people doing the Camino now. However, I’ve had a wonderful time: I could turn around and do it all again!
Why should Spain provide toilets on the Camino? Civilised human beings, adults what's more, ought to be able to make their own arrangements without leaving a mess. Are you going to pay for construction, cleaning, etc. Thought not.
Monte de Gozo is a holiday camp.
 
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Past OR future Camino
Ingles 2018
I was thinking that most of us today who can afford the time and money are a very lucky relative few I’m terms of world populations and the inequality that abounds. What if people who were found guilty of a crime today might be given a Camino walk as punishment rather than jail.
Really my post was just a reflection on how hard I have been in myself in my expectations of what makes a ‘proper’ Camino. No foul intended and much love to those who I might have offended.
A camino instead of jail time, (I know you aren't serious) that would be interesting asking other pilgrims why are they walking??
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
A camino instead of jail time, (I know you aren't serious)
There is at least one jail in Spain where a priest and a group of convicts walk on Camino every year. It is not meant instead of jail time but it is part of their programme for rehabilitation and reintegration into society shortly before their release, at least afaik.

There are also youth programmes in several European countries where young people walk on Camino with a guardian. These are usually private/association initiatives. Again, not instead of jail time in the usual system but an alternative to time spent in youth detention programmes. A main aspect of this is to remove them from their usual environment and negative influences. Also, of course, aspects of positive personal growth.

It is a far cry from medieval systems where either clerical or secular courts ordered a culprit to go on a pilgrimage to one or more destinations near or far as punishment. You could often pay a fine instead of doing the pilgrimage. I doubt that anyone regards a Camino pilgrimage as punishment these days - challenge yes, but not punishment.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I did consult a foot doctor and thought I could work with it. I was wrong. Excitement and anticipation pushed me past good judgement.
I am mulling over what lessons your experience might have for those of us who help prepare others through their local pilgrims associations. It looks like you have been preparing for this for maybe 18 months or so. Your profile suggests you originally considered the CI but sometime you must have changed that to walking from Pamplona and tackling the Alto de Perdon on your first day. It sounds like you were still unprepared physically, if not mentally and emotionally as well, for a tough day.

Are there other elements of your preparation that you would look to enhance as well as those in your OP were you to plan another Camino? How do you think you would address balancing your enthusiasm with the physical and mental challenges as they arise?
 
Past OR future Camino
Ingles (after Covid)
I have had enough.

I made the very difficult decision to humble myself- to come back here after only making it one day- and share exactly what it was that I wished I had understood more fully before setting off. Most people would have never come back. I did. In the space of where this thread is now, there is a group of posters who have systematically attacked and torn apart every single bullet point of "what I had wished I had understood more fully" , negated every opinion I posted with some variation of "I disagree, you're an idiot, why didn't you do ___ instead, and your opinion of what went wrong isn't valid to anyone else because you failed" and basically treated me like I am the biggest ignorant dumbass they have ever met in their lives. I almost suspect there was a group of private messages going on behind the scenes- hey, you go slam her for the money, I'll go slam her for the comparison to the AT, ___ will go slam her for the parking garage thing, and ___ can tackle the "but she only walked 12km and quit".

I know none of you in real life. What I do know is that the small amount of joy I brought home with me has now been sucked dry by some mean spirited folks on the internet. No one spends a large amount of money, buys the best gear they can afford, walk in circles 3 miles at a time for the entire duration of Covid waiting for the restrictions to lift and the job to give personal time off and the plane to match up- no one does that lightly or without thought. If anyone cares to speak to me or offer advice, I welcome your private message/conversation. If y'all wish to continue to tell the world how exactly I screwed up, go for it. Everyone has a first time at trying something and very, very few of us are perfect the first time.
 
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