Search over 55.000 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Love this Forum

  • Thread starter Deleted member 67185
  • Start date
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
This has been said several times over the years, but I wanted to say it once again:

As a singular resource, this Forum, and you experienced Members, do more to help assure a novice Pilgrim's success than most anything else I can think of. As a resource, you are all vital and precious. ❤❤

As a social media site, this forum. . Ivar's Forum. . . serves a vital role and is so brilliantly useful BECAUSE of how it is structured, how it is implemented, and the effort put forth by those individuals who are our Moderators. My profound "thanks" are not expression enough for the gratitude I feel.

While there are many reasons why this Forum has effectively helped pilgrims, I am focusing on just one of the nexus issues that allows it to do so. I had thought about this while writing in response to a post on a thread I had started; a post that helped me see a change I needed to edit, because I had not looked at the information as closely as I should have through the eyes of beginner.

Part of the edited change is to include the role of a backpack's carrying capacity, along with a discussion of why discipline dictates what, and how much, is put into a backpack.

So. . how is it that without this Forum and you experienced Members, that a squeaky-fresh Camino Newbie would end up carrying a much heavier backpack? A key word: Discipline.

Why is it that 'discipline' plays a key role to lighter loads? How does this Forum allow the development of 'discipline' to occur? Well, in this specific context there are two factors: Knowledge and Confidence.

Knowledge is one of the very first essentials needed by a beginner to help overcome their anxieties of the unknown. That anxiety often leads a backpacking novice/Camino Newbie to include the singular, most weighty of items one can put into a backpack: their fears. Conversely, as that beginner overcomes their strong and natural desire to bring stuff "Just-In-Case", the weight of their backpack automatically lightens itself. It is unavoidable.

Confidence is the the second, and equally important key to the development of backpack packing discipline. This key is not as easy as for the beginner as is obtaining knowledge; a lot of confidence-building is experiential. Confidence requires that a person test the knowledge that they obtain, in a 'real world' situation.

We have all experienced this. How many times have you been nervous about whether a technique or tip would actually work? Then when the time to use that information arrives, you give it a try and, "Wow, this actually works!!" ?

Or the first time you tried to walk that unimaginable 10 or 15 or 20 miles with a fully loaded backpack, and you actually lived. . . and it was easier than you thought it would be?

Or the first time you purposefully walked that same 10 miles with a backpack, but this time in the pouring rain. In your rain gear setup. And you were OK. . . maybe a bit damp or feet that got wet, but OK none the less.

Not only that. . . you now knew that you could do it all again, and knew exactly what you needed to use to do those things. AND what you ended up not needing.

THAT is how confidence is developed. Until one has reached that point, it takes a deliberate decision to try out your newly gained knowledge on faith, and trust that the knowledge you have been given will actually work.

That is why the information on this Forum, that covers a wide range of subjects is so vital. That information would never exist on this Forum if not for all of you experienced pilgrim-Members; you provide knowledge which helps Newbies to lighten their backpacks.

Not only the information sharing, but also your calm and confident and uplifting demeanor in your posts that tells the Newbie to have courage and faith in themselves.

I love this Forum.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
Well said @davebugg ! Could I add that if “older” members find themselves getting frustrated with the ubiquitous shoe-blister-pack-toilets-albergue questions, maybe just quietly close the offending thread and find something else to do? Recently there have been a scattering of patronising comments (I think stemming from frustration but they tend to be the antithesis of the encouragement Dave is applauding).
I too value the encouragement I received as a newbie and the ongoing assistance I have received since my first “successful experience”.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
@davebugg I think that the thing which does the most to undermine confidence in those coming to the Caminos without much prior experience are the hugely exaggerated descriptions of the difficulties involved which so many blogs and forum posts present. How often do we read that "It is not a walk in the park!"? Of course not - but neither is it an ascent of Everest without ropes or oxygen or a solo unsupported trek to the South Pole :) To be quite frank -if I had seen "The Way" or read many of the accounts of the "perilous" Route Napoleon and the "treacherous" descent into Molinaseca before my first Camino I might never have left Scotland at all. Walking the Caminos is not in essence different from what I believe most of us have done for much of our lives: putting one foot in front of the other. Perhaps for longer and further each day than we are used to. Perhaps up and down steeper hills and on rougher surfaces. Perhaps amongst a more diverse and possibly irritating collection of fellow pilgrims than we might encounter on our streets at home. But it is not a wholly different world. As we walk the Caminos we build upon what most of us already know and practice in our daily lives. I think we often do a serious disservice to newcomers by building a mountain out of a molehill in presenting the Caminos as something totally other and extraordinary.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
@Bradypus - don’t forget the warnings about bedbugs and accommodation shortages and bad food and snorers and wolves and Pyrenean vultures - but how else are we going to keep the Camino from overcrowding? Hehehe.
I met the vultures on my very first day. Hot, sweaty and slightly nauseous with dehydration. Not the most cheerful of sights to look up and see the buggers circling above my head with a very impatient glint in their eyes.... 🦅🍴🤒
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Yep. A huge flock circled over my daughter and me on a hot hot hot day in June 2004. And then there is the true story of the woman who fell off a cliff, near the Route Napoleon, how they picked her bones clean before the local police could get to her
 
Last edited:

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Far too many...
I met the vultures on my very first day. Hot, sweaty and slightly nauseous with dehydration. Not the most cheerful of sights to look up and see the buggers circling above my head with a very impatient glint in their eyes.... 🦅🍴🤒
A quote from my last Camino, where I had the same feeling: "Surely they are watching you from above, seeing a two-legged meal walk by within range." !
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
@Bradypus - don’t forget the warnings about bedbugs and accommodation shortages and bad food and snorers and wolves and Pyrenean vultures - but how else are we going to keep the Camino from overcrowding? Hehehe.
Coelho’s and MacLaine’s mad dog reports!
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
No one has mentioned the dangerous slugs and snails!
They chased me half way across the Meseta. Almost caught me twice. Thankfully I carried my gallon-sized Flesh Eating Slug Repellent canister with me on that Camino. Got the blighters in the end.

Moral lesson --- Never listen to those who tell you to go light. Always carry the oddest and most extreme items to ensure your worst fears never come to pass. Otherwise, I'd be slug stuff by now.

But then again, if I hadn't been carrying 50lbs of fears with me, maybe I could have outrun them . . .
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I do not want anyone to be put off or intimidated at the prospect of walking the Camino, especially those that have longed to do it for years. That is why I dislike any posts, threads, comments etc that exaggerate its difficulty, that make it seem as though expensive equipment is needed, that exaggerate the possibility of being bitten by an insect or encounter dangerous wildlife, that potable water is scarce, that the section known as the meseta is a hostile, dry desert, that albergues are filled to the brim with bag rustlers and snorers, that elaborate apps are needed to navigate it and find albergues...and the list would go on.
Nothing scary or intimidating about taking several long walks. Go do it and ignore the tall tales. They are simply inflating their experiences because:
A. They do not want you walking on and mucking up their Camino.
B. Exaggerating their experiences on the Camino makes for better stories to their friends, especially pilgrims for whom the Camino was their first ever venture of that kind.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
On the other hand, there are also many posts downplaying the difficulty of walking the Camino.
Lots of posts that say that no training is required, you can just train on the Camino. That may be true for those who already are fairly active in their everyday life, for example walking to most places rather than driving, but for someone who is very sedentary I think that some training is vital.

And regardless of your fitness level, unless you regularly walk 20+ km per day, up and down hills, I think that everyone can benefit from training prior to the Camino. Being in better condition and not huffing and puffing makes for a more enjoyable experience.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Yes, I am still of the opinion that for most of us in the western world, walking 800km usually carrying a 7kg pack, is a huge achievement. Not to be belittled.
Honestly, how many of you who still carry your pack actually get it down to 7kg?
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Honestly, how many of you who still carry your pack actually get it down to 7kg?
I do. Normally, my pack is about 6.5 kg. On my Portuguese Camino in September I eliminated a few things and got it down to less than 5.5 kg
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Honestly, how many of you who still carry your pack actually get it down to 7kg?
For me that would be guesswork - I never weigh my pack unless I think it may be near my airline's weight limit. Which is unlikely for a Camino in Spain using albergues. I would be very surprised if my pack was heavier than 5kg for a spring or summer Camino. Not more than 10kg even for a midwinter Camino on a route like the VdlP or Mozarabe for which I would probably carry an emergency food stash, four-season down sleeping bag, self-inflating mat and bivvy bag to allow me to break down long stages by sleeping outdoors on occasion.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
For me that would be guesswork - I never weigh my pack unless I think it may be near my airline's weight limit. Which is unlikely for a Camino in Spain using albergues. I would be very surprised if my pack was heavier than 5kg for a spring or summer Camino. Not more than 10kg even for a midwinter Camino on a route like the VdlP or Mozarabe for which I would probably carry an emergency food stash, four-season down sleeping bag, self-inflating mat and bivvy bag to allow me to break down long stages by sleeping outdoors on occasion.
I remember you with your pack on the VdlP. I was most impressed with the idea of a bivy bag, but have not been able to switch to nighttime self-sufficiency on camino so far, and have not needed to.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I do! 5 kg max 😎
Amazing! But then, I never walk a complete camino in warm weather when I am comfortable with light clothes and sleeping bag. Maybe I should give up on trying to be comfortable.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Mine is always under 7kg when it gets weighed before boarding the aircraft. It has to be carry-on legal.
That's about the only circumstance that would push me to getting my pack down to 7kg. But carry on bags are not currently weighed on flights from Canada. I can't really regret this.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I remember you with your pack on the VdlP. I was most impressed with the idea of a bivy bag, but have not been able to switch to nighttime self-sufficiency on camino so far, and have not needed to.
It is not so much a case of "needed to" for me. More like "wanted to". On some routes like the VdlP or the Mozarabe if you rely entirely upon albergues or hostals you can be faced with making a choice between walking a very short stage with an early stop or an exceptionally long stage to reach the next available accommodation. I like having the third option to stop at some intermediate point if conditions permit. I have slept outdoors many times in other countries but I do so fairly rarely in Spain. No fun in rain but very enjoyable on a clear dry night well away from any risk of disturbance. I often sleep far more soundly than I would in a busy albergue.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Honestly, how many of you who still carry your pack actually get it down to 7kg?
I think my last Oct/Nov camino weighed in just under 7 kg. I could have dropped it further but I wanted the extra top and socks.

I’m in the market for a new backpack and plan to shed a couple pounds there. I think I can get it to 5.5 kg from skin out.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2009), Camino Frances (2012), Via de la Plata (2013) and Camino del Norte planned for May, 2015
Carry what you can and don't carry anything that you are not willing to leave behind...and definitely don't take stuff you think you 'might' need. There is nothing that you find you must need that is not available on the path your are walking.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Carry what you can and don't carry anything that you are not willing to leave behind...and definitely don't take stuff you think you 'might' need. There is nothing that you find you must need that is not available on the path your are walking.
If you think you might require prescription medication, you had better take it with you than go through the effort that it can be to acquire it in Spain.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Can we please return to Dave's original topic?

Whatever the weight, and who cares what that is, don't carry your fears - or your ego. It takes both discipline and confidence to do that.

The more caminos I do, the easier it is to set aside 'in case' things. Except for things in my first-aid kit. Chances are if I fall or twist an ankle, it won't be at the door of a pharmacia.

And if I think I might genuinely need something but hesitate because of someone else's idea of an ideal pack weight, so I can be more like one of the cool lightweight kids...I take it. ;)
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Whatever the weight, and who cares what that is, don't carry your fears - or your ego. It takes both discipline and confidence to do that.
Or your expectations! People put way too much pressure on the Camino to fix what's wrong with their lives.

As far as backpack weight goes. I know that I could get by with much less, but I take things that make me happy.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
Anyone remember trying to get @Robo NOT to carry the rice cooker?
I think I remember that saga in a different way. The context is important. Not the exact words on the page.

The context I recall is @Robo was wanting to ease the first camino for his wife, for whom rice is a staple.

Sure, there was some humour to be milked for a time. And @Robo seemed to take the comments in good spirit.

But, I wonder if @Robo was a new member if he might have been put off. And other new members may wonder what they have walked into and do not return.

As I read @davebugg it is that casual approach we sometimes seem to have to one another.

And I am sure others can point to one or another post of mine that holds me guilty also.

I will continue to read this thread with interest.
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
Yes, the context was for his wife, which is actually one of the reasons I respect @Robo as a person as greatly as I do, even though I've never met him. And, yes, there was a fair amount of humor alongside strong opinions in those threads, but I don't recall any particular nastiness that would justify people leaving the forum.

As I read Dave's comments, I'm not sure it's really an issue of casualness. Nor am I convinced that what turns off newcomers (whether new to long-distance hiking or Triple-Crowners) is humor, or even good-natured disagreement. It is a forum after all, and these are reasonably to be expected. The meat of it, I believe, boils down to occasional issues with:

1) A lack of respect when we disagree. Hot button issues abound, and emotions can get heated and people say things sharply, which happens with regularity. Moreover, some people are by nature sharp-edged and even combative. The moderators and forum rules do a good job keeping the worst of these tamped down without putting everyone in bubble wrap and straitjackets. There's legitimate grounds for improvement from time to time, but I don't see it as being a major issue all the time.

2) ) Arrogance in the views we present. There tend to be a lot of opinions that boil down to "This is the answer," with the sometimes spoken, "because this has worked for me," and the occasional (often obvious even if unspoken), "So you need to be like me." Other things have worked for others, which is also expressed, and this leads to divergent opinions. In my mind, that's a good thing, and the exchange of fact, experience, opinion, and belief (which overlap only partially at best) is a strength of the forum. Some have a confident humility in what they advise, others are all about showing how superior they are (knowledge, experience, skills, morality, worldview, whatever), both of which make this forum like the world at large. The former ought to be strongly encouraged; the later gently discouraged. That said, I think even this issue is still only a matter of a few degrees rather than sharp right turn.

Frankly, I think there's a factor not yet raised. A newcomer, rather like when going to a new country and culture (and this forum has its own culture, for better or worse), has the responsibility to grapple with and understand the culture as best he or she can. Some people will leave because they want it to be other than it is; it is their right to do so, and we don't need to bend over backwards to prevent that. However, civility, mutual respect, and humility are not bending over backwards; they're just basic skills for communal life. No one member, no matter how colorful, significantly changes the culture, but one member can drive people off unnecessarily. The forum ought not to coddle shrinking violets, but neither ought it welcome mixed martial arts cage match behavior.

But, that's just my opinion.
 
Last edited:

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Excellent thoughts, Koilife, and you've articulated them all so well! I also like your ending "in my opinion". Sometimes when I see "in my humble opinion", I wonder if it's really humble...cuz are you humble if you know you're humble.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
On the other hand, there are also many posts downplaying the difficulty of walking the Camino.
Lots of posts that say that no training is required, you can just train on the Camino. That may be true for those who already are fairly active in their everyday life, for example walking to most places rather than driving, but for someone who is very sedentary I think that some training is vital.

And regardless of your fitness level, unless you regularly walk 20+ km per day, up and down hills, I think that everyone can benefit from training prior to the Camino. Being in better condition and not huffing and puffing makes for a more enjoyable experience.
I think that it is fair to say that one can walk the Camino, regardless of fitness level, without training. It is also fair to say that everyone can benefit from training prior to their Camino. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I say the former because I am living proof. When I walked the Camino from Roncesvalles in 2016, I had no training before I left. I was working in a sedentary job and it had been years since I had seen the inside of a gym. My son was more or less in the same boat. After the first day from Roncesvalles to Zubiri, the next three were short (15 km) for "on the Camino" training and then we gradually increased our distances. We made it to Santiago and beyond that to Finisterre. It can be done. Sure, we had our issues (me primarily with my knees, him primarily with blisters). But we did it. Someone saying that training is essential is essentially saying that people who, for whatever reason, cannot train, should not go. I cannot agree with that. I am ever so grateful for the experience I had in 2016, despite any issues that I had that might have been alleviated with training.

In 2018, I did a lot of training before my Camino, culminating in three days in a row of 20 km walks with full backpack. And my body certainly protested a lot less during the Camino. I had no knee problems and never was hobbling around the albergue in the evening. I would recommend training to anyone.

But while I would recommend training to anyone, I would also say that a Camino is possible without it, even for those who are not very fit. It will just be more of a challenge, but a challenge that someone called to a Camino is likely to find worthwhile.
 
Last edited:

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
Having seen enough people unable to continue due to injury after insufficient training, as well as completing with more than enough needless suffering, it seems like a lot of time, expense, and emotional investment on a spin of the roulette wheel when one can spend the time training, getting the proper gear, planning appropriate stages, etc.

I still think we need to encourage people to adopt the preparation most likely to provide success, which I believe is in keeping with @davebugg's point in the OP.
 


Advertisement

Booking.com

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 56 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 197 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 327 24.9%
  • June

    Votes: 95 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 24 1.8%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 379 28.9%
  • October

    Votes: 158 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock