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Illness, injury, recovery and hopes for the Camino Frances this Spring/Summer

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Lhollo,
What an ordeal you have had. Your perseverance and courage are most admirable.
Good luck with your new plans. Whenever and wherever you do walk Buen Camino and,
in the truest sense, Ultreia.
.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
It's good to hear from you. I remember your struggles in shoe shopping last year. I'm glad to hear that you've sorted that out, and more importantly, the foot pain!

I realize that your list wasn't meant to include every little detail, but I am curious if you find walking poles to be helpful, and if you are taking them. Also, how about alternate footwear?

Good luck with the backpack shopping!
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Lhollo,
What an ordeal you have had. Your perseverance and courage are most admirable.
Good luck with your new plans. Whenever and wherever you do walk Buen Camino and,
in the truest sense, Ultreia.
.
Thank you! 🙏
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
It's good to hear from you. I remember your struggles in shoe shopping last year. I'm glad to hear that you've sorted that out, and more importantly, the foot pain!

I realize that your list wasn't meant to include every little detail, but I am curious if you find walking poles to be helpful, and if you are taking them. Also, how about alternate footwear?

Good luck with the backpack shopping!
I knew I’d forget some things when I typed up those lists! Yes, I often use Nordic walking poles and will take them. I also have EVA foam Birkenstock’s that I’ll take. There are other basics like socks too :D I’ll amend my list above. Thanks, C clearly 🙏
 
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VeronicaF1

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked from Pamplona to Los Arcos, Planning to continue from Los Arcos
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
Buen Camino. I've been walking Camino Frances in stages. In April 2019 I intended to start from Astorga and get as far as I could in a week. Sadly, on arrival, I had a flair up of diverticulitis. The health centre in Astorga insisted I needed hospital tests and sent me back to Leon. After several bags of IV antibiotics and a night in Leon I took the bus to Astorga and started walking at lunchtime. Day 2 started reasonably enough but 3/4 of the way to Foncebadon it started snowing! The next morning, as other pilgrims set out I took the sad but sensible decision to taxi to Ponferrada and travel home.
I'd booked a one way flight to Madrid for April 2020 but Covid put paid to that but hoped to resume in 2021. Mid summer I suddenly developed osteo arthritis in my left knee and currently find walking painful. I'm very aware that I'm losing fitness and stamina because I'm not walking. ☹
This Thursday I am booked for a cortisone injection in my knee. I'm expecting it to be extremely uncomfortable but hoping, hoping that it will enable me to start walking again.
I may have to walk a different Camino, using rucksack transport, having rest days, doing more sight seeing. I might find the Meseta easier than hills. I know l'll be unlikely to bump into walkers I meet once ever again as they'll be walking further faster. I'm determined to at least try.
Buen Camino to all - especially those of us who will be walking with a handicap.
 

Shalaw

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015
Wow - that’s quite a journey you’ve been on! And congratulations on having the will and determination to overcome these curveballs life has thrown at you! Truly inspiring.
Don’t forget that you are able to use a courier service for your pack, to give your feet and back a rest. We started using one when my calf swelled on about day four, and also when we rented bikes to cross the meseta. I hope to do the Portuguese route next, in 2022.

Whenever you are able to get out there .... BUEN CAMINO!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
What a remarkable and moving story, Dhollo! Your indomitable spirit shines through it. I'm reminded of Raynor Winn's books, "The Salt Path" and "The Wild Silence", which you may know, the memoirs about Raynor's husband Moth, and his own struggle with a different disorder. The similarity is how they found that the one thing that made him better was lots of exercise (walking), and being on the land. They walked 630 miles along England's southern coast, similar to your own long-distance walks and need to be outdoors. I find your account of your personal journey incredibly inspiring. Keep walking, and Buen Camino!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
Your story of overcoming this latest challenge is an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing it. You have also added to my existential dilemma regarding "what are your thoughts on shoes"? I had a few comments on your post on shoes. I too had been a hard core lover of Brooks Cascadias. Then (as I mentioned) I bought my wife some Hoka's. She has foot, ankle and knee issues. She absolutely loves them. A few months ago I bought some Hoka Speedgoats. They are great and I love them. The problem is the longer I wear them the more I question if I should switch from my Cascadias for my next Camino. I will be walking over 1000K and with my gunboat feet, I wear a size 14 but go up one size for the Camino, the ability to buy new trail runners is almost non-existant. So even though my Hokas are great and may actually be better I know I can't go wrong with my Brooks. Your added comments about your Hokas are making my decision even harder!!!!!:);):);). Buen Camino and feel free to always comment. What you have to say is as valuable as anyone else's.
 
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AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
@Lhollo, thank you for your narrative of finding the perfect shoes for you at this time. I can only sympathise as it took more than three years (including surgery for suspected osteo-arthritis in a little toe) before I found the size and shoe model, and brand that works for me, and has done for just on six years without problems. And as the only remainders shop for this brand in my country is just down the road, I can always get last years model at about 1/2 price. 😊

whether travel will be possible

As the UK becomes my base from time to time I keep an interest in official announcements. The latest from the UK Government, dated 16 April, says at this link: You can only travel internationally from England where you have a reasonable excuse to leave the UK, such as work. International holidays are not permitted.

At the risk of being thought a sad sack and raining on your parade, other factors include whether the people in the towns and villages you will pass through are willing to accept you with smiles and hugs. To my mind that is also a test of whether travel will be possible.

I hope, for my sake at least, all this is over by April 2022 so I can complete my Via Frangigena.

Whatever the case, I say kia ka'ha, kia mā'ia, kia mana'wa'nui (be strong, patient and confident)
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
@Lhollo, thank you for your narrative of finding the perfect shoes for you at this time. I can only sympathise as it took more than three years (including surgery for suspected osteo-arthritis in a little toe) before I found the size and shoe model, and brand that works for me, and has done for just on six years without problems. And as the only remainders shop for this brand in my country is just down the road, I can always get last years model at about 1/2 price. 😊



As the UK becomes my base from time to time I keep an interest in official announcements. The latest from the UK Government, dated 16 April, says at this link: You can only travel internationally from England where you have a reasonable excuse to leave the UK, such as work. International holidays are not permitted.

At the risk of being thought a sad sack and raining on your parade, other factors include whether the people in the towns and villages you will pass through are willing to accept you with smiles and hugs. To my mind that is also a test of whether travel will be possible.

I hope, for my sake at least, all this is over by April 2022 so I can complete my Via Frangigena.

Whatever the case, I say kia ka'ha, kia mā'ia, kia mana'wa'nui (be strong, patient and confident)
I appreciate all the updates that you have been giving. I have booked (exchangeable or vouchered on Iberia) to walk the VDLP in October. I have written many times asking people to just try to relax and not obsess or much worse force their Caminos before it is safe. My attitude is if come Oct 10th I can go I will, if not I will just look to February or early March 2022. Disappointed yes but to stress over it, what is the point?
As I am looking to walk just less traveled Caminos from now on Except when I walk with my college friends to celebrate our 50 years together. I hope that a pilgrim like you and others who have walked many less traveled routes to write a little about your experiences on those routes. So if you ever get the urge I would be happy to read anything you post.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
My attitude is if come Oct 10th I can go I will, if not I will ...

With respect, we do live in an interconnected and interdependent world.

I understand one effect from significantly reduced travel in 2020 is almost no influenza outbreaks and almost no consequential death. A report from a government virologist says, for my country, "typically about 20,000 cases each year with 400 to 500 deaths each year [and in 2020 there were] only a handful of cases found." and attributes this to "tighter border restrictions." and "Flu transmission has fallen significantly in the northern hemisphere ... in the United States, for example, mask wearing and social distancing ... seem to have vanquished the flu."

So, yes, politicians (even those who actually listen to their science and medical advisors) may allow international and inter-regional travel to resume,

I for one, would rather wait and see when the local people, those that provide municipal, parish and donativo albergue, are happy to greet us with hugs and smiles - the pilgrimage way I first encountered in its completeness six years ago.

Wouldn't it be grand, @lt56ny, if this world wide interconnected community of ours, ranging across the many waters, would do our individual bits to help eliminate two scourges - Influenza and Covid-19 - even if it means waiting and watching a little longer.
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
With respect, we do live in an interconnected and interdependent world.

I understand one effect from significantly reduced travel in 2020 is almost no influenza outbreaks and almost no consequential death. A report from a government virologist says, for my country, "typically about 20,000 cases each year with 400 to 500 deaths each year [and in 2020 there were] only a handful of cases found." and attributes this to "tighter border restrictions." and "Flu transmission has fallen significantly in the northern hemisphere ... in the United States, for example, mask wearing and social distancing ... seem to have vanquished the flu."

So, yes, politicians (even those who actually listen to their science and medical advisors) may allow international and inter-regional travel to resume,

I for one, would rather wait and see when the local people, those that provide municipal, parish and donativo albergue, are happy to greet us with hugs and smiles - the pilgrimage way I first encountered in its completeness six years ago.

Wouldn't it be grand, @lt56ny, if this world wide interconnected community of ours, ranging across the many waters, would do our individual bits to help eliminate two scourges - Influenza and Covid-19 - even if it means waiting and watching a little longer.
I do understand that this is a difficult, complicated and rather heated topic but I’d like to ask, with great respect, that this thread not be turned into a discussion of who is right and who is wrong as regards how each person chooses to approach returning to the Camino. I myself am acutely aware of this because I speak regularly with Spanish people in Spain and know a wide range of the attitudes, fears and hopes over there. My own decision to go—along with the precautions I’ll take when there—is largely a result of my conversations in Spain. I’m worried about people there. I also completely understand that some people here are incredibly concerned that they might unwittingly spread the virus there, make people uncomfortable, or bring it home. It is a matter for us all to collectively and individually do our best. I think that everyone here on this forum seems to be doing that. So… please, can we try to keep this discussion to the subject of illness, recovery and doing the Camino in the face of physical difficulty? 🙏
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Your story of overcoming this latest challenge is an inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing it. You have also added to my existential dilemma regarding "what are your thoughts on shoes"? I had a few comments on your post on shoes. I too had been a hard core lover of Brooks Cascadias. Then (as I mentioned) I bought my wife some Hoka's. She has foot, ankle and knee issues. She absolutely loves them. A few months ago I bought some Hoka Speedgoats. They are great and I love them. The problem is the longer I wear them the more I question if I should switch from my Cascadias for my next Camino. I will be walking over 1000K and with my gunboat feet, I wear a size 14 but go up one size for the Camino, the ability to buy new trail runners is almost non-existant. So even though my Hokas are great and may actually be better I know I can't go wrong with my Brooks. Your added comments about your Hokas are making my decision even harder!!!!!:);):);). Buen Camino and feel free to always comment. What you have to say is as valuable as anyone else's.
I’m glad that my post was helpful! I don’t know what I’d do in your situation re the shoes. Isn’t it also the case that your Brooks would be difficult to replace on the Camino? Do you mean that you’re more sure they wouldn’t cause problems? If that’s the case, then maybe they’ll serve you very well. But if you think the Speedgoats might be more comfortable, but only last, say, half the distance, perhaps you have time to put some more miles on them and find out how well they fare? You could, I suppose, have a second pair shipped out to you part way. I hope you find out what works best for you! Difficult, isn’t it? 😀
 
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Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Wow - that’s quite a journey you’ve been on! And congratulations on having the will and determination to overcome these curveballs life has thrown at you! Truly inspiring.
Don’t forget that you are able to use a courier service for your pack, to give your feet and back a rest. We started using one when my calf swelled on about day four, and also when we rented bikes to cross the meseta. I hope to do the Portuguese route next, in 2022.

Whenever you are able to get out there .... BUEN CAMINO!
Thank you for this lovely response! Yes, I’m still considering having things shipped if necessary. I’ve veered away from that for the whole trip because on most days, the extra items I absolutely have to carry in my own pack amount to two extra pieces of clothing, sandals and a pillow plus one or two chargers, and I could give my partner a couple of extra things if necessary. But I suspect that on some days, carrying just water and other essentials might end up being a good option! I’ll keep bearing it in mind, because I do sometimes forget it a little!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I for one, would rather wait and see when the local people, those that provide municipal, parish and donativo albergue, are happy to greet us with hugs and smiles.
I think we are all in agreement with that desire. However, determining when that point has arrived is a matter for subjective judgement. Most of us rely on the various public authorities to make the first determination, and then we can individually factor in on our additional personal values.
I’d like to ask, with great respect, that this thread not be turned into a discussion of who is right and who is wrong as regards how each person chooses to approach returning to the Camino.
I think this is a fair request.

Can we please not bring the debate around the ethics and timing of travel to every thread on the forum! It is not acceptable to promote violations of the law, but it is acceptable to dream and plan and prepare for the restrictions to be removed.
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
What a remarkable and moving story, Dhollo! Your indomitable spirit shines through it. I'm reminded of Raynor Winn's books, "The Salt Path" and "The Wild Silence", which you may know, the memoirs about Raynor's husband Moth, and his own struggle with a different disorder. The similarity is how they found that the one thing that made him better was lots of exercise (walking), and being on the land. They walked 630 miles along England's southern coast, similar to your own long-distance walks and need to be outdoors. I find your account of your personal journey incredibly inspiring. Keep walking, and Buen Camino!
Thank you for this very kind response! I’m not sure that any of it qualifies as remarkable—we all do what we need to do when in the midst of things—but equally I’m very glad if any of what I said shows that it’s possible to find a way through those times.

I’ll certainly look for those books! I’ve heard of ‘The Salt Path’ but wouldn’t have recalled the content of it. Her work sounds very interesting and relevant. Thank you 🙏
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Buen Camino. I've been walking Camino Frances in stages. In April 2019 I intended to start from Astorga and get as far as I could in a week. Sadly, on arrival, I had a flair up of diverticulitis. The health centre in Astorga insisted I needed hospital tests and sent me back to Leon. After several bags of IV antibiotics and a night in Leon I took the bus to Astorga and started walking at lunchtime. Day 2 started reasonably enough but 3/4 of the way to Foncebadon it started snowing! The next morning, as other pilgrims set out I took the sad but sensible decision to taxi to Ponferrada and travel home.
I'd booked a one way flight to Madrid for April 2020 but Covid put paid to that but hoped to resume in 2021. Mid summer I suddenly developed osteo arthritis in my left knee and currently find walking painful. I'm very aware that I'm losing fitness and stamina because I'm not walking. ☹
This Thursday I am booked for a cortisone injection in my knee. I'm expecting it to be extremely uncomfortable but hoping, hoping that it will enable me to start walking again.
I may have to walk a different Camino, using rucksack transport, having rest days, doing more sight seeing. I might find the Meseta easier than hills. I know l'll be unlikely to bump into walkers I meet once ever again as they'll be walking further faster. I'm determined to at least try.
Buen Camino to all - especially those of us who will be walking with a handicap.
What a journey you’ve been on yourself! It’s hard to manage the not knowing, isn’t it? Keeping hope alight but also not too much so! It sounds as though you have a good sense of finding routes at each point, so do what you want to do, and I really hope it works out for you one way or another. In particular, I hope the cortisol injection works for you! I’ve heard good things about that treatment (for a while, they wondered whether my foot trouble was osteo arthritis so I genned up on it). Joints, eh, who’d have them? I wish you the best of luck with all of it, and thanks too, for your response here.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
Your “story” is inspirational, Lhollo! Don’t forget a change of underwear! 😀
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
With respect, we do live in an interconnected and interdependent world.

I understand one effect from significantly reduced travel in 2020 is almost no influenza outbreaks and almost no consequential death. A report from a government virologist says, for my country, "typically about 20,000 cases each year with 400 to 500 deaths each year [and in 2020 there were] only a handful of cases found." and attributes this to "tighter border restrictions." and "Flu transmission has fallen significantly in the northern hemisphere ... in the United States, for example, mask wearing and social distancing ... seem to have vanquished the flu."

So, yes, politicians (even those who actually listen to their science and medical advisors) may allow international and inter-regional travel to resume,

I for one, would rather wait and see when the local people, those that provide municipal, parish and donativo albergue, are happy to greet us with hugs and smiles - the pilgrimage way I first encountered in its completeness six years ago.

Wouldn't it be grand, @lt56ny, if this world wide interconnected community of ours, ranging across the many waters, would do our individual bits to help eliminate two scourges - Influenza and Covid-19 - even if it means waiting and watching a little longer.
Yes that is a dream worth living for. I agree knowing what the locals want is important. I just am not sure how to gauge this. I just posted an article from the New York Times. It was an interview with the head of the EU. I have a feeling there is a chance we will soon be able to get an idea how local residents across Europe feel about vaccinated American tourists being allowed back across EU countries. I also agree that waiting is the best policy. That is why I have no problem postponing my walk if need be. The course this pandemic has taken has shown no plan is safe the day after you make it.
 

Shalaw

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015
Thank you for this lovely response! Yes, I’m still considering having things shipped if necessary. I’ve veered away from that for the whole trip because on most days, the extra items I absolutely have to carry in my own pack amount to two extra pieces of clothing, sandals and a pillow plus one or two chargers, and I could give my partner a couple of extra things if necessary. But I suspect that on some days, carrying just water and other essentials might end up being a good option! I’ll keep bearing it in mind, because I do sometimes forget it a little!
You may want to consider investing in a small daypack. We carried one between the two of us, which was big enough to carry the essentials for both of us - extra socks to change every few hours, sandals, ibuprofen, sunscreen, lip balm, phones, my ipad mini that I used to take photos, snacks and all our important stuff like passports, etc., and water of course. Some people think it's cheating to send your pack ahead, but I think anything that will save your feet and back is never a bad thing! Cheers!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
Thank-you for this whole post, Lhollo; my son has hEDS too (with digestive complications thrown in for good measure), and we walk together all the time, but I always carry our stuff on day hikes. He would like to do the Norte with me at some point, and I had not thought about what he could or could not carry (he’s much, much bigger than I and far stronger in some ways). He loves to run, and can’t resist jumping for something high, but he has nerve impingement in his upper left quadrant that have caused him horrifying pain for 3 years without anyone helping in any effective way. He takes a medication for the nerve pain but none of us is certain if it works. *Maaaaaybe? it takes the worse edges off?*
Anyway, you have me thinking, and I am realizing I will have to probably arrange bag cartage (not sure what’s available on the Norte) and have to put up with *stink eye* from those who demand to know why a young person is not carrying his pack (bla bla bla).
Imma gonna go put on my mama-bear suit and start trying to figure this stuff out. Probably we have time... the Norte is his undergrad present, and we have about a year and half or two before we get there.
 
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Iriebabel

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Thank-you for this whole post, Lhollo; my son has hEDS too (with digestive complications thrown in for good measure), and we walk together all the time, but I always carry our stuff on day hikes. He would like to do the Norte with me at some point, and I had not thought about what he could or could not carry (he’s much, much bigger than I and far stronger in some ways). He loves to run, and can’t resist jumping for something high, but he has nerve impingement in his upper left quadrant that have caused him horrifying pain for 3 years without anyone helping in any effective way. He takes a medication for the nerve pain but none of us is certain if it works. *Maaaaaybe? it takes the worse edges off?*
Anyway, you have me thinking, and I am realizing I will have to probably arrange bag cartage (not sure what’s available on the Norte) and have to put up with *stink eye* from those who demand to know why a young person is not carrying his pack (bla bla bla).
Imma gonna go put on my mama-bear suit and start trying to figure this stuff out. Probably we have time... the Norte is his undergrad present, and we have about a year and half or two before we get there.
On the Norte Try Correos Spain’s’ mail system- they were terrific and you can text or call for next morning pickup and drop off info good luck https://www.elcaminoconcorreos.com/en/transfer-luggage
 

Caritas33

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
I have a young friend with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and she was incredibly happy to get a diagnosis after years of not understanding what was going on with her body. She’s in her mid 20’s, and it’s been quite a ride for her. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and she is so young to have to worry about medical problems! I’m so sorry that you have to deal with it as well.

I have severe arthritis, especially in my back, knees, elbows, wrists, and hands. The shoe thing is obviously very important to me! I wear Oofos recovery shoes and sandals most of the time and plan on taking a pair of the sandals as my recovery shoes and shower flip flops. They’re very light. My walking shoes right now are Salomons, two different types. I’m trying to decide between them.

Planning this trip with my daughter has given me something to look forward to and dream about. I have always loved to day hike and camp in mountains, but I’ve slowly had to give that and many other activities up. My daughter wants to do the Camino very badly, so I’m going to try to go with her even if it means that she hikes and I end up calling a taxi on some days. One thing I have found that makes me hopeful is that I seem to do better on rough terrain or cobblestones than I do on hard pavement, so those legs of the journey might be easier for me. Just the fact that I’m getting out to exercise more right now is making me happy, so this is good for my heart and soul just looking forward to the trip.

I agree with you so much about how the planning of the trip is keeping me going. A few years ago I was so sick that I rarely left the house or my couch, and an adventure like this would have been unheard of! My husband still thinks I’m crazy for thinking of it at all, but I want to at least try and to be there for my daughter at each stop if I end up being unable to walk it.

I would love to hear more from you and to get any advice if you do end up going this year or before I do. (Hopefully we’ll be able to go May 2022.) Please keep writing. ¡Buen camino!
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
You may want to consider investing in a small daypack. We carried one between the two of us, which was big enough to carry the essentials for both of us - extra socks to change every few hours, sandals, ibuprofen, sunscreen, lip balm, phones, my ipad mini that I used to take photos, snacks and all our important stuff like passports, etc., and water of course. Some people think it's cheating to send your pack ahead, but I think anything that will save your feet and back is never a bad thing! Cheers!
Yes, we're thinking that, on some days at least, it may be best to use a transfer service. When you used one, what did you do about water supplies? I'm thinking that 3 litres of water—which might be necessary on hot days because I get very thirsty!—might on its own be a lot to ask of both a small daypack and my partner :D Not sure what to do about that. And then there is still the need to carry other extras. I've looked at, for example, waist packs that are designed just for water and small essentials, but I already have a super-light waist pack for my camera. Not sure about any of this!
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Thank-you for this whole post, Lhollo; my son has hEDS too (with digestive complications thrown in for good measure), and we walk together all the time, but I always carry our stuff on day hikes. He would like to do the Norte with me at some point, and I had not thought about what he could or could not carry (he’s much, much bigger than I and far stronger in some ways). He loves to run, and can’t resist jumping for something high, but he has nerve impingement in his upper left quadrant that have caused him horrifying pain for 3 years without anyone helping in any effective way. He takes a medication for the nerve pain but none of us is certain if it works. *Maaaaaybe? it takes the worse edges off?*
Anyway, you have me thinking, and I am realizing I will have to probably arrange bag cartage (not sure what’s available on the Norte) and have to put up with *stink eye* from those who demand to know why a young person is not carrying his pack (bla bla bla).
Imma gonna go put on my mama-bear suit and start trying to figure this stuff out. Probably we have time... the Norte is his undergrad present, and we have about a year and half or two before we get there.
Thank you for sharing this, @Faye Walker . There are so many parts of what you said that struck a cord with me. I too am guilty of running (although it's more of an occasional springbok impression in my case; I wish I could sustain a run) and can't resist jumping for things. I was a photographer for some years, and naturally home in on unusual camera angles, or places that look as though they need further exploration, even if it involves jumping or contorting. It can cause trouble :D

Your son's nerve pain and 3 years of no one helping in any way sounds far too familiar. I've been there and know that many others with hEDS have too. I had a dislocating jaw for many years, progressively worse until I couldn't chew for over a year, and was told repeatedly that it was anxiety and I needed to 'sort my life out'. In the end, after the hEDS diagnosis, I found a dental professor who understood, and I now have a splint which actually helps. the same has been true of the latest nerve entrapment. None of the consultants helped. The problem is that they specialise in one area and don't understand the whole body. My physio is repeatedly the only person who immediately understands what's happening when I develop a new injury. What I'm leading to is that I wondered, when I read your post, whether your son has a really, really good physio? by this I mean someone who knows about trigger points, who specialises perhaps in the spine but also has an understanding of hypermobility, and who ideally treats sports injuries. The latter is perhaps surprisingly important because therapists who don't approach injuries in hEDS from the perspective of getting a person back into sport, tend to be very cautious and, as was the case with my feet, prescribe rest when they should be saying 'yes, do the Camino… be wary of x and y, and take z precaution… but it'll be good for you'.

The presumption that a young person who looks healthy should carry their own luggage… yes, it's difficult isn't it? I had this when my poor elderly parents had to carry things for me. As you know, it's a case of thinking 'stuff it, who cares what people think?'.

The Norte as an undergrad present… what a fantastic thing to do :D
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
Thank you for sharing this, @Faye Walker . There are so many parts of what you said that struck a cord with me. I too am guilty of running (although it's more of an occasional springbok impression in my case; I wish I could sustain a run) and can't resist jumping for things. I was a photographer for some years, and naturally home in on unusual camera angles, or places that look as though they need further exploration, even if it involves jumping or contorting. It can cause trouble :D

Your son's nerve pain and 3 years of no one helping in any way sounds far too familiar. I've been there and know that many others with hEDS have too. I had a dislocating jaw for many years, progressively worse until I couldn't chew for over a year, and was told repeatedly that it was anxiety and I needed to 'sort my life out'. In the end, after the hEDS diagnosis, I found a dental professor who understood, and I now have a splint which actually helps. the same has been true of the latest nerve entrapment. None of the consultants helped. The problem is that they specialise in one area and don't understand the whole body. My physio is repeatedly the only person who immediately understands what's happening when I develop a new injury. What I'm leading to is that I wondered, when I read your post, whether your son has a really, really good physio? by this I mean someone who knows about trigger points, who specialises perhaps in the spine but also has an understanding of hypermobility, and who ideally treats sports injuries. The latter is perhaps surprisingly important because therapists who don't approach injuries in hEDS from the perspective of getting a person back into sport, tend to be very cautious and, as was the case with my feet, prescribe rest when they should be saying 'yes, do the Camino… be wary of x and y, and take z precaution… but it'll be good for you'.

The presumption that a young person who looks healthy should carry their own luggage… yes, it's difficult isn't it? I had this when my poor elderly parents had to carry things for me. As you know, it's a case of thinking 'stuff it, who cares what people think?'.

The Norte as an undergrad present… what a fantastic thing to do :D
Hello Lhollo;
We have *not* found a really good PT; alas. We’re filled up a dime-a-dozen with them, but they’ve all prescribed things that have made the hyper-mobility worse. He’s at the Asperger end of the spectrum, too (some 30% are affected with EDS of some form), so how he feels pain, how he communicates pain... none of it is “as expected” and finding someone who can communicate with those challenges in place... yeah, well....

I have joint laxity and hyper mobility too, but nothing as extreme as he has, but I understand how it influences my hips to have to have all the back muscles working harder to hold me up — and I learned that yoga makes things worse for both of us by taking the stretchy parts and making them even more so. Walking is very good for *tightening* up the hips. Does it help you? I hear you about the feet... both my beloved boy and I have toes that flip backward in every joint and that can be extremely tiring... good goes have been key, but they are so personal! He wears Ecco and the Vibran 5-toe shoes, whileI wear Altra or Keen, but I Will encourage him to look at the Hokas you’ve had success with. I won’t take him on a camino in either the Ecco (not meant for long distances) or the 5-toe shoes (Just: no).

Adding to the mix, he does not seem to feel big pain very much. Things like burns, puncture wounds, even a broken foot, etc. So I will really have to watch that stuff for him. Blisters... blisters could be a big deal... and stress fractures.

Thanks for your wisdom, and for reminding me that I don’t have to listen to other people. And I will budget for Correos transfer for his stuff. The Norte calls to him in particular because he’s s trained chef, so all that gorgeous food out there! Wow... and he wants to parasail while we are in Santander...
 
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Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
I have a young friend with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and she was incredibly happy to get a diagnosis after years of not understanding what was going on with her body. She’s in her mid 20’s, and it’s been quite a ride for her. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and she is so young to have to worry about medical problems! I’m so sorry that you have to deal with it as well.

I have severe arthritis, especially in my back, knees, elbows, wrists, and hands. The shoe thing is obviously very important to me! I wear Oofos recovery shoes and sandals most of the time and plan on taking a pair of the sandals as my recovery shoes and shower flip flops. They’re very light. My walking shoes right now are Salomons, two different types. I’m trying to decide between them.

Planning this trip with my daughter has given me something to look forward to and dream about. I have always loved to day hike and camp in mountains, but I’ve slowly had to give that and many other activities up. My daughter wants to do the Camino very badly, so I’m going to try to go with her even if it means that she hikes and I end up calling a taxi on some days. One thing I have found that makes me hopeful is that I seem to do better on rough terrain or cobblestones than I do on hard pavement, so those legs of the journey might be easier for me. Just the fact that I’m getting out to exercise more right now is making me happy, so this is good for my heart and soul just looking forward to the trip.

I agree with you so much about how the planning of the trip is keeping me going. A few years ago I was so sick that I rarely left the house or my couch, and an adventure like this would have been unheard of! My husband still thinks I’m crazy for thinking of it at all, but I want to at least try and to be there for my daughter at each stop if I end up being unable to walk it.

I would love to hear more from you and to get any advice if you do end up going this year or before I do. (Hopefully we’ll be able to go May 2022.) Please keep writing. ¡Buen camino!
Thank you for this response, @Caritas33 , and I’m sorry for not responding sooner.

I hope your friend with hEDS is getting good support now. It can make a big difference. Getting a diagnosis in her twenties may help, too; from all I’ve read, people are often older before health professionals realise what the pattern of symptoms indicates.

I haven’t ever tried either Salomons or Oofos, although I’ve read about them, and seen Salomons in many shops. It’s interesting, to know that these work well for you, particularly given the severity and locations of the arthritis that you have. For my own part, I bought yet more shoes last weekend, but these will actually be for the Camino. I decided on the new Altra Timp 3, with a runners’ shock absorption insole. For me, they were more comfortable than the new Altra Lone Peak 5, and not as clunky as my Hoka Stinsons (which I love in many ways). Oddly, I found them even more cushioned than the Hoka Bondi 7.

I’m sorry to hear about your severe arthritis. It is incredibly frustrating, isn’t it, to have the mind and will to do things but to have uncertainty about where to draw the line physically. It’s not something I suppose most people think about—I didn’t, until I had to—although that’s probably sensible. I still think it’s wise, up to a point, to have a ‘Stuff it, I’m not letting it stop me’ attitude, which it sounds as though you have too. If there’s a reasonable back-up plan in place, why not go for it?

A part of me keeps thinking about doing the PCT, or some of it. That’s probably a good example of overreaching, given that I don’t suppose it’s possible to have back-up plans in the middle of the US wilderness, and given that I can barely carry my Camino backpack. Hmmm… But the Camino, I imagine, is different.

Your aim of walking the Camino with your daughter sounds great, and I’m not surprised it keeps you going. May 2022 will surely be feasible! I’d like to do the same with my daughter some day; not sure what she’d think of it (she once said she’d love to walk the PCT with me— ‘Yes, sure, I’d be up for it’— and then I told her it’s a walk from Mexico to Canada, and she back-peddled :D ). I understand the that it can be awkward to navigate around other people’s ideas about what you can and can’t do, too. My partner knows that I have to be cautious physically, that things can flare up quickly, but my own enthusiasm, and periods of being physically strong, seem to infect him easily too, which probably isn’t a bad thing. Anyway, I hope your plans come together for May 2022. Something fantastic to look forward to, however you end up doing it!
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Hello Lhollo;
We have *not* found a really good PT; alas. We’re filled up a dime-a-dozen with them, but they’ve all prescribed things that have made the hyper-mobility worse. He’s at the Asperger end of the spectrum, too (some 30% are affected with EDS of some form), so how he feels pain, how he communicates pain... none of it is “as expected” and finding someone who can communicate with those challenges in place... yeah, well....

I have joint laxity and hyper mobility too, but nothing as extreme as he has, but I understand how it influences my hips to have to have all the back muscles working harder to hold me up — and I learned that yoga makes things worse for both of us by taking the stretchy parts and making them even more so. Walking is very good for *tightening* up the hips. Does it help you? I hear you about the feet... both my beloved boy and I have toes that flip backward in every joint and that can be extremely tiring... good goes have been key, but they are so personal! He wears Ecco and the Vibran 5-toe shoes, whileI wear Altra or Keen, but I Will encourage him to look at the Hokas you’ve had success with. I won’t take him on a camino in either the Ecco (not meant for long distances) or the 5-toe shoes (Just: no).

Adding to the mix, he does not seem to feel big pain very much. Things like burns, puncture wounds, even a broken foot, etc. So I will really have to watch that stuff for him. Blisters... blisters could be a big deal... and stress fractures.

Thanks for your wisdom, and for reminding me that I don’t have to listen to other people. And I will budget for Correos transfer for his stuff. The Norte calls to him in particular because he’s s trained chef, so all that gorgeous food out there! Wow... and he wants to parasail while we are in Santander...
That idea of not feeling pain 'as expected' is an interesting one! I may be describing something very different to what your son experiences—I certainly feel pain when I sprain something!—but I did have my work cut out to explain to people that I didn't feel pain when my jaw used to partially dislocate (several times a day and night). What I felt, and what they would see, was a shock, and it would afterwards feel as though I was recovering from a shock, but it wasn't pain. Even so, for a long time, painkillers were the only option anyone considered. They didn't help. What I needed was a dental splint.

Blisters… yes, I fear those. Blisters could mean wonky walking, which could mean trouble!

I just mentioned in another response here that I finally ended up buying a pair of shoes that I'll use for the Camino. I've plumped for the new Altra Timp 3, with runner's shock absorption soles. For me, they're more cushioned that the Hoka Bondi 7 (weird, I know), more comfortable than the new Lone Peaks, plenty of wiggle room for the toes, not quite a chunky underfoot as the Hoka Stinsons (although I love those).

Yoga… Nope, I avoid that for the reasons you outlined. I mostly do cardio—other than walking, I just use my exercise bike and cross-trainer, and sometimes stairs if I can get to a gym—and weights, making sure I stay as symmetrical as possible. I find walking does help a lot, particularly if I vary the type of terrain rather than only walking on the flat (ie, everywhere in my own area).

Has your son, or have you, tried pilates? My physio prescribes pilates-style exercises, and it's the go-to basic exercise for hEDS because it strengthens the deep core muscles around the spine, which are impossible to reach otherwise. The Ehlers Danlos Society in the UK recommends Youtube pilates videos by Jeannie di Bon, who specialises in pilates that's specifically for people with EDS. This is her Youtube channel.

I love your son's reasons for choosing the Norte! Parasailing in Santander. And all that fine food :D
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I just mentioned in another response here that I finally ended up buying a pair of shoes that I'll use for the Camino. I've plumped for the new Altra Timp 3, with runner's shock absorption soles. For me, they're more cushioned that the Hoka Bondi 7 (weird, I know), more comfortable than the new Lone Peaks, plenty of wiggle room for the toes, not quite a chunky underfoot as the Hoka Stinsons (although I love those).

.....................

Has your son, or have you, tried pilates? My physio prescribes pilates-style exercises, and it's the go-to basic exercise for hEDS because it strengthens the deep core muscles around the spine, which are impossible to reach otherwise. The Ehlers Danlos Society in the UK recommends Youtube pilates videos by Jeannie di Bon, who specialises in pilates that's specifically for people with EDS. This is her Youtube channel.

I love your son's reasons for choosing the Norte! Parasailing in Santander. And all that fine food :D
Oh! Thanks for the Pilates recommendation! We have not tired that, but if/when such things return, we can try that. I’d been afraid (on the basis of similarities to dance stretching —- I was a reasonable dancer and very good on things like the beam when I was young, but did a lot of damage... and my son is me to the Nth degree, and because he overdoes stuff all the time, I’d been very cautious. I’ll go check out that link now).

BTW — for strength training we both have a little palm-sized device that conncts to an app on our phones — it’s call and Activ5 and it’s been a life-saver during COV. Isometrics... and they are fun because there are games to play based on effort and gains measured by the little machine. If you are interested in that, you can check it out here: ACTIV5

Thanks for the information about the Altra Timp 3. We protect our feet at all costs (except for the time he broke his and didn’t tell us for 3 days, and that time I busted my baby toe and didn’t splint it 30 year ago). Anyway, he trusts me with his feet because I’ve always dressed them to last him a lifetime. I’m going to go check those out now. He has a ridiculously high instep, and the weird floppy toes.... narrow, narrow feet that are surprisingly small at size 11 for a guy 6’4”.

I wish you luck as you figure out what your body is up to and thank you for the good advice from experience.

Buen Camino
 

Lhollo

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
(Camino Frances, September 2020… POSTPONED to May/June 2021, SJPP to Belorado section)
Oh! Thanks for the Pilates recommendation! We have not tired that, but if/when such things return, we can try that. I’d been afraid (on the basis of similarities to dance stretching —- I was a reasonable dancer and very good on things like the beam when I was young, but did a lot of damage... and my son is me to the Nth degree, and because he overdoes stuff all the time, I’d been very cautious. I’ll go check out that link now).

BTW — for strength training we both have a little palm-sized device that conncts to an app on our phones — it’s call and Activ5 and it’s been a life-saver during COV. Isometrics... and they are fun because there are games to play based on effort and gains measured by the little machine. If you are interested in that, you can check it out here: ACTIV5

Thanks for the information about the Altra Timp 3. We protect our feet at all costs (except for the time he broke his and didn’t tell us for 3 days, and that time I busted my baby toe and didn’t splint it 30 year ago). Anyway, he trusts me with his feet because I’ve always dressed them to last him a lifetime. I’m going to go check those out now. He has a ridiculously high instep, and the weird floppy toes.... narrow, narrow feet that are surprisingly small at size 11 for a guy 6’4”.

I wish you luck as you figure out what your body is up to and thank you for the good advice from experience.

Buen Camino
Ooh, thanks for the info about the ACTIV5. I’ll look into that.

I wanted to quickly say—although I may be wrong—but from your description of your son’s feet it sounds as though Altras may not be ideal for him. They have a zero drop from heel to toe which, if you’re not used to it, can cause problems, particularly Achilles’ tendon strains, but also they mostly don’t have much arch support. One or two of their road shoes are exceptions. I only need low arch support, which the insoles I chose provide, but if your son has a high instep… hmm. Also they’re designed to help toes splay out. So people with wider feet tend to love them. That said, I have quite slender feet, but still like my toes being able to spread. They’re worth trying, but tread with some caution (pun probably intended!).

I hope the pilate works out for you! Thanks again for your responses too, and kind wishes 🙏 I’ll look forward to hearing updates from you as your own Camino nears/happens.
 

David61

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2019
Frances (2020)
Hello Camino friends!

I thought I'd tell you about my past half-year, and say a little about my hopes, and perhaps also concerns, about my Camino Frances, which is theoretically soon. I imagine it may be of interest to some of you, and that maybe some or even many of you have experienced similar obstacles, and walked the Camino anyway, or met people there who've done so. It's a little long but… I'd love to hear your responses and your own stories!

To give context, I have Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS): a collagen disorder that makes connective tissues in all parts of the body—organs, tendons, ligaments, skin, etc—more elastic than they should be. This means that bones can dislocate, and that muscles have to work harder than normal to keep everything in place. The main treatment is exercise, and keeping muscles in good condition. In 2017, I had a period when I couldn't walk, but rehabilitated myself. Thru-hikes and walking holidays keep me going! I need the goals, and the time outside. There’s just something so wonderfully natural about moving through a landscape, not to mention meeting people along the way.

We were supposed to do the same section of the Camino Frances last September, 2020, but had to reschedule it for this May/June, 2021. Instead, we went walking in the Cairngorms, in Scotland. I felt healthy, and upon coming home, continued walking each morning before work, with longer walks at weekends.

Then I started to have foot pain. At first, it was an ache. Then it became, at times, a severe stabbing. It seemed to be mostly around the sides and back of my heel, and happened at any time of the day, with increasing frequency. Sometimes, it was better when I walked! I ignored it for a while, then eventually gave in an asked a podiatrist to do a home visit. We were in lockdown, so she stood in the garden, and didn’t examine my feet, but advised that I rest my feet as completely as possible. The pain worsened over the coming weeks, despite my following her instructions, so she recommended that I see a consultant and have X-rays.

The consultant diagnosed a stress fracture in one foot and probably also in the other, and put me in big plastic walker boots for a month. That was last November/December. I then had an MRI scan, which showed that there were no fractures, but also no soft tissue damage of any sort: no plantar fasciitis, no tendonitis, nothing. By this point, I couldn’t walk or stand, and other joints had started dislocating, because I was immobile. One foot was worse than the other but both had severe burning, stabbing, pins and needles, and aches in various places, still most often around the back and sides of the heel but also the sole and toes.

I had to find new supportive shoes, to replace the walker boots, and didn’t want to return to my previous walking shoes (my beloved Altra Lone Peaks, and Brooks Cascadia 14) while I still didn’t know if they had somehow caused this injury. A while ago, I posted a thread in which I asked for recommendations of shoes, because I was having to order them online to try at home during lockdown and whilst shielding. That thread is here: https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/trail-runners-altra-or-brooks-or-hoka.68292

So, after much trial and error I discovered that the Hoka Stinson ATR 6 not only enabled me to walk, but seemed to actively reduce my pain. I bought a pair to use instead of slippers in the house, and another pair for walks outside. I built things up gradually until, by Good Friday this year, I was able to walk 21.5 miles without pain. I feel I’m basically now back on track! I’m not sure how realistic it is to do fourteen days of long miles but I’m going to do my best!

The severe pain was still a mystery, until last week. My usual, brilliant physiotherapist hadn’t been able to see me during the UK lockdown, and then he caught Covid (mild). I knew he’d figure out the problem, because he understands how the whole body works, lectures in it, and also understands hEDS. And... the diagnosis is… muscle spasms in my glutes trapping the nerves that go to the foot! Because of this, the more I rested, with my feet up, the worse it got. Walking actually improves matters, for the most part at least (walking sloppily when very tired can make it worse, so I have to avoid that; I may need taxis on some days of the Camino, or buses and am hoping these will be easy to find).

So, now I have many glute exercises to do. The physio has advised that my footwear in fact isn’t too important, so long as it doesn’t strain me. However, I need to work out how best to distribute the weight I’ll carry on the Camino, and need a new backpack, which I hope to choose tomorrow.

We’ve booked all our accommodation in advance, because of my medical needs, so we don’t need to carry a huge amount. I intend to go ultralight, to such an extent that it probably isn’t worth it to book luggage transfer, although I’m still considering it.


In my backpack I’ll have, on average:

  • Ultralight tank top
  • Ultralight fleece
  • 1 pair shorts
  • Packaway ultralight raincoat
  • Ultralight pillow (needed for my neck)
  • Spare socks
  • EVA foam Birkenstocks
  • Phone charger
  • Camera charger
  • Medications
  • Wallet
  • 1.5 litres water
  • Snack bar / tortilla / item of fodder

I’ll wear on my body, again on average:

  • Ultralight t-shirt
  • 1 pair cropped yoga pants
  • Baseball cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Waist pack with compact camera and mini-tripod
  • Phone
  • Nordic walking poles

My partner will carry a little more: his own things plus our sunscreen, possibly one of my chargers or batteries, a massage ball for my stupid glutes, etc.

I’m excited about going tomorrow to an actual shop and trying on actual backpacks and actual shoes with an actual advisor there to talk to! I’ve been looking forward to it for months :D

We’re still very aware that the Camino might not be possible for our current dates of May 20th to June 5th, but we’re waiting to see how things develop here in the UK, and whether travel will be possible after May 17th. If Spain is in the UK’s Amber or Green categories, and if the regions of Catalonia, Navarre and La Rioja are accepting visitors from here, then we intend to go; quarantine and tests aren’t a problem, and we’re well used to masks and keeping our distance. Otherwise, we’ll reschedule again, for mid August into September 2021. We’ve both had one shot of AstraZeneca, which for this period will still give us good protection, and our flights are still in place. So… we're hoping… and trying not to think beyond that.

But that's not really why I'm posting this. We'll do the Camino when we do it, although I have to say that it has been the one thing that's been keeping me going more than anything else during the past year, when I didn’t know whether I’d walk again at all! That is a terrifying prospect. It made me think a great deal about how fortunate we are, to think of the Camino, and also of how many other people must have walked it in spite of, or in recovery from, illness and injury.

Anyway, I wanted to share my experience here, in case it’s of interest to anyone else. I’d love to hear your stories! And also because, well, who knows where the story will lead to next! I hope to write updates from the Camino, if not soon, then fairly soon, and to meet some of you there. And afterwards, to feel I can be a member here with more to say than ‘What are your thoughts on shoes?’ :D
Just one suggestion for you. Do not carry your wallet in your backpack (or any other items such as passport), you will take it off several times a day and it takes but one opportunist to ruin your experience.
 
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Shalaw

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015
Yes, we're thinking that, on some days at least, it may be best to use a transfer service. When you used one, what did you do about water supplies? I'm thinking that 3 litres of water—which might be necessary on hot days because I get very thirsty!—might on its own be a lot to ask of both a small daypack and my partner :D Not sure what to do about that. And then there is still the need to carry other extras. I've looked at, for example, waist packs that are designed just for water and small essentials, but I already have a super-light waist pack for my camera. Not sure about any of this!
On the days we sent our packs ahead, we carried 2 litres of water and filled up at every town that had water fountains, of which there are many. On the days we carried our packs, we carried each other’s water in the pockets on the sides of our packs because it was so easy to grab our water from each other’s packs than pfaffing about trying to reach behind yourself to find your water in your own pack. On those days, we carried 2 litres each.
 

Caritas33

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
On the days we sent our packs ahead, we carried 2 litres of water and filled up at every town that had water fountains, of which there are many. On the days we carried our packs, we carried each other’s water in the pockets on the sides of our packs because it was so easy to grab our water from each other’s packs than pfaffing about trying to reach behind yourself to find your water in your own pack. On those days, we carried 2 litres each.
Did you need anything to sanitize the water? I’ve read a few things saying that some people have gotten ill from water from the fountains. I haven’t had that problem in other parts of Spain, but it concerns me a bit.
 

Shalaw

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015
Did you need anything to sanitize the water? I’ve read a few things saying that some people have gotten ill from water from the fountains. I haven’t had that problem in other parts of Spain, but it concerns me a bit.
We didn’t sanitize any of the water we drank, and if the water isn’t drinkable, there’s usually a warning sign to that effect. I guess we were fortunate not to get sick, if it’s happened to others.
 

Caritas33

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Thank you for this response, @Caritas33 , and I’m sorry for not responding sooner.

I hope your friend with hEDS is getting good support now. It can make a big difference. Getting a diagnosis in her twenties may help, too; from all I’ve read, people are often older before health professionals realise what the pattern of symptoms indicates.

I haven’t ever tried either Salomons or Oofos, although I’ve read about them, and seen Salomons in many shops. It’s interesting, to know that these work well for you, particularly given the severity and locations of the arthritis that you have. For my own part, I bought yet more shoes last weekend, but these will actually be for the Camino. I decided on the new Altra Timp 3, with a runners’ shock absorption insole. For me, they were more comfortable than the new Altra Lone Peak 5, and not as clunky as my Hoka Stinsons (which I love in many ways). Oddly, I found them even more cushioned than the Hoka Bondi 7.

I’m sorry to hear about your severe arthritis. It is incredibly frustrating, isn’t it, to have the mind and will to do things but to have uncertainty about where to draw the line physically. It’s not something I suppose most people think about—I didn’t, until I had to—although that’s probably sensible. I still think it’s wise, up to a point, to have a ‘Stuff it, I’m not letting it stop me’ attitude, which it sounds as though you have too. If there’s a reasonable back-up plan in place, why not go for it?

A part of me keeps thinking about doing the PCT, or some of it. That’s probably a good example of overreaching, given that I don’t suppose it’s possible to have back-up plans in the middle of the US wilderness, and given that I can barely carry my Camino backpack. Hmmm… But the Camino, I imagine, is different.

Your aim of walking the Camino with your daughter sounds great, and I’m not surprised it keeps you going. May 2022 will surely be feasible! I’d like to do the same with my daughter some day; not sure what she’d think of it (she once said she’d love to walk the PCT with me— ‘Yes, sure, I’d be up for it’— and then I told her it’s a walk from Mexico to Canada, and she back-peddled :D ). I understand the that it can be awkward to navigate around other people’s ideas about what you can and can’t do, too. My partner knows that I have to be cautious physically, that things can flare up quickly, but my own enthusiasm, and periods of being physically strong, seem to infect him easily too, which probably isn’t a bad thing. Anyway, I hope your plans come together for May 2022. Something fantastic to look forward to, however you end up doing it!
Thankfully my friend with hEDS has a father who is a brilliant doctor and has many, many connections in the medical world. Her diagnosis probably came much sooner than most because of him and his friends and colleagues.

We’ll see how the Salomons do... I have yet to make it past 5 miles in them, but so far, so good! The Oofos flip flops I swear by, and I have 3 pairs of them so that I can switch them out to wash them every few days since I wear them inside and outside almost every day even in winter. (Yes, I’ve worn them out in the snow! Ha! Not for very long though.) I do a lot of things outside and get pretty dirty, and they wash up very well. The Oofos shoes are new for this past winter, so I’m not sure how much I like them yet, but it gets very cold here... too cold to leave the house in flip flops. 😊 I thought I’d try them since I like their flip flops so much.

I also have EVA Birkenstocks, Gizeh style, but I think the Oofos are more comfortable. I like the way the Birkenstocks look though, so I do wear them often. They’re easy to clean too.

I‘ve had very good luck with Abeos, though I’ve only tried one style of sandals which they no longer make. They’re much prettier than Oofos and seem to be even better for walking for me. I bought three pairs a few years ago, and I’m so glad I did! They have built in orthotics, which they call their B.I.O. system, and I’m considering buying some of their shoes for the Camino if my two pairs of Salomons don’t work out. I have walked about 10 miles a day in the sandals through Madrid, Toledo, and Segovia on a month long trip, and I was pretty amazed. (I love seeing how far I’ve walked on my phone. Knowing I walked that much just a few summers ago gives me a lot of hope for the Camino!) I will still have problems on hard surfaces no matter what shoes/sandals I wear. Places like the Prado with such hard floors cause lots of pain, especially in my back. I thought cobblestones would be the worst, but I actually do better on them! I can’t imagine cobblestones would be good for you though.

One problem with the Abeo sandals that I have is that they’re heavy. They don’t seem heavy on my feet, but they are in a suitcase, and I always take two pairs just in case one pair breaks. A really nice thing about them is that they don’t look like orthotics. I actually had a Japanese tourist tell me I was wearing the wrong shoes when I was walking down some stone steps to see a waterfall in Yellowstone. I was holding on to my husband because the steps were very steep, and my knees don’t do well going down steps, and the guy had the nerve to tell me that my orthotics weren’t the right pair of shoes to be wearing. What he didn’t understand was that I probably wouldn’t have been able to go if I hadn’t been wearing them. It was pretty embarrassing for my teens at the time for that guy to yell at me like that, but we’ve all had to learn some humility and patience because of this stupid disease.

Here is the website for Abeos:
https://www.abeofootwear.com/

I like that you’re thinking about the PCT, but there are many more things to consider when hiking in the US, especially the west. It’s just so, so big, and so much of it is still very wild. Maybe you could do it in pieces like I plan to do the Camino? I would still research it and think about it even if it never happens or if you only do part because we need to have dreams, and you’ll learn so much. Put it on your bucket list... it doesn’t matter if it gets checked off or not. I love to plan trips, even if they get canceled or never take off in the first place. Some of the joy is in the anticipation, and with our health issues, we need that joy!

One recommendation: Research how to keep mice out of your stuff if you plan to hike the PCT or AT. My husband recommends it especially because mice chewed up his toilet paper on the AT. 😄 On his first AT trip, every single one of the guys he hiked with had mice get in their packs and destroy things when they slept in the shelters. They were even running across their bodies. They didn’t get much sleep in the shelters!

Rodent prevention and dangers of rodent-borne diseases on any trail:

Though I’ve never, ever had a scary run-in with an animal, I’ve seen too many grizzly, black, and brown bears, bison, moose, and elk just FROM THE CAR and too many warning signs about rogue bears and mountain lions at campgrounds in various states (including California, Oregon, and Washington) throughout my life not to tell you to do some research if you’re seriously thinking about the PCT. It is pretty unusual to get hurt by an animal while hiking in the US, but there are some precautions you should take, especially with food storage. We don’t even clean fish anywhere near our campsite in bear country. They just have such sensitive noses!

Here are some interesting articles.

https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/backcountry-basics/food/bear-canister-protecting-your-food/

https://www.outsideonline.com/1776281/will-bear-spray-ward-mountain-lion-attack. This one talks about various things to consider, not just mountain lions.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd541459.pdf. I think on the PCT there are only black bears. That’s good because grizzlies are much bigger and aren’t scared of pretty much anything. My youngest brother was head wrangler at a ranch in Colorado, and a grizzly kept breaking into the lodge kitchen, trapping the cook and his wife in their bedroom right next to it. The DNR brought him a live trap to catch the bear so they could relocate it and left. It was an interesting week to say the least. It took the DNR a couple of days to come get that trap after they finally caught the bear, and one of his front paws was bigger than my brother’s head. He has a big head too!

I hate to say it, but I am THRILLED that I don’t have to worry about bears or mountain lions on the Camino! I used to have nightmares about bears chasing my children after hiking so much with them when they were tiny! To this day, at ages 20, 20, and 19, if you ask them, “What should you do if you see a bear?” all of them will answer, “Get behind Mama!” They still all LOVE to hike, but they have a healthy respect for bears. I’m proud to say that they actually hiked a tiny bit of the AT when they were 2, 2, and 1. (Ok, they were mostly carried, but they walked a little!)

I do want to note that the many, many bears we’ve seen have mostly been from the car or from the side of the road. When any of us have run into bears on a trail, we’ve had no trouble. My brother-in-law and his large dog were stalked by a mountain lion on a hike though, but he was a lone human with a dog, both which would be considered prey by a big cat. It spooked him! He never hiked alone without a gun there again. I think there is safety in numbers when it comes to mountain lions, and again, any kind of animal attack is highly unlikely. My family just likes to hike and camp a lot and many of us live in or travel to pretty remote places, so we’ve probably had more encounters with them. Not one of us has ever been hurt.

There are just different things to consider if you hike the PCT, not better or worse, just different. If you DO want to see a bear, I’d say head to Yellowstone. I’d say head to Yellowstone anyway just because it’s such an incredible place to go. Keep dreaming and keep planning!

Here’s a pic for you from my glory days on the AT in Virginia when I could hike with a kid on my back. My husband has the one year old in the pack and one of the two year olds by the hand. The other two year old is on my back, and I’m taking the photo. I’m sure we made it really far that day! Ha!
 

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Caritas33

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
Thank you for this response, @Caritas33 , and I’m sorry for not responding sooner.

I hope your friend with hEDS is getting good support now. It can make a big difference. Getting a diagnosis in her twenties may help, too; from all I’ve read, people are often older before health professionals realise what the pattern of symptoms indicates.

I haven’t ever tried either Salomons or Oofos, although I’ve read about them, and seen Salomons in many shops. It’s interesting, to know that these work well for you, particularly given the severity and locations of the arthritis that you have. For my own part, I bought yet more shoes last weekend, but these will actually be for the Camino. I decided on the new Altra Timp 3, with a runners’ shock absorption insole. For me, they were more comfortable than the new Altra Lone Peak 5, and not as clunky as my Hoka Stinsons (which I love in many ways). Oddly, I found them even more cushioned than the Hoka Bondi 7.

I’m sorry to hear about your severe arthritis. It is incredibly frustrating, isn’t it, to have the mind and will to do things but to have uncertainty about where to draw the line physically. It’s not something I suppose most people think about—I didn’t, until I had to—although that’s probably sensible. I still think it’s wise, up to a point, to have a ‘Stuff it, I’m not letting it stop me’ attitude, which it sounds as though you have too. If there’s a reasonable back-up plan in place, why not go for it?

A part of me keeps thinking about doing the PCT, or some of it. That’s probably a good example of overreaching, given that I don’t suppose it’s possible to have back-up plans in the middle of the US wilderness, and given that I can barely carry my Camino backpack. Hmmm… But the Camino, I imagine, is different.

Your aim of walking the Camino with your daughter sounds great, and I’m not surprised it keeps you going. May 2022 will surely be feasible! I’d like to do the same with my daughter some day; not sure what she’d think of it (she once said she’d love to walk the PCT with me— ‘Yes, sure, I’d be up for it’— and then I told her it’s a walk from Mexico to Canada, and she back-peddled :D ). I understand the that it can be awkward to navigate around other people’s ideas about what you can and can’t do, too. My partner knows that I have to be cautious physically, that things can flare up quickly, but my own enthusiasm, and periods of being physically strong, seem to infect him easily too, which probably isn’t a bad thing. Anyway, I hope your plans come together for May 2022. Something fantastic to look forward to, however you end up doing it!
One more picture of my two year olds hiking. This was in the Shenandoah in Virginia about an hour from where we lived at the time. I can’t resist!
 

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Kazibar

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP to SDC Sept 2015, Baiona to SDC May 2017, SDC to Muxia Sept 2018, Few bits VdP Sept 2019
I’m aiming for September. I have cancer, so am reliant on it moving only slowly or not at all. I’ll be moving slow too about 10km a day...
 

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