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Night Walking

Discussion in 'El Camino del Norte' started by Northern Laurie, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. Northern Laurie

    Northern Laurie Member

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    Hi all,

    I've appreciated all the words of wisdom (and silliness) on this forum - I am much better prepared than I would be otherwise, and am terribly excited to be starting at the end of August.

    I love walking at night. The world changes after sunset. In particular, I love walking in cities at night, outside of areas with nightlife. I know my hometown well, and know where to wander and feel comfortable and where to avoid. Vancouver is a very safe city and rarely have I felt threatened.

    I have done a little bit of walking in the country or hiking on trails in the dark - but the call of the coyote tends to creep me out a bit - make me feel vulnerable. But overall, I feel more alive and at peace.

    So, with that rambling preamble, have any of you walked after dark? If so, is there a stretch that is more or less amenable to night time walking - anywhere between Irun and Santiago. Or even Finisterra?

    Is there a stretch I should avoid at all costs (e.g. because the path is unusually dangerous and steep or other hazards would worry you).?

    Has anyone walked at night? What was your experience?
     
    natefaith and Pacific NW pilgrim like this.
  2. Anemone del Camino

    Anemone del Camino Anemone

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    I walked starting in super darkness twice, once to accompany someone who wanted to walk in the moonlight and arrive in Santiago early and the second when I fled a horrible albergue where a person staying there was as high as a kyte and was putting the rest of us in danger with how she was using her lighter. That was in Bilbao.

    Four things come to mind:

    1- if you sleep a few hours and get up in the middle of the night to get going ... you may wake others which is not proper albergue etiquette.

    2 - it can be difficult to see the painted arrows and the chances of getting lost increase, even with a flashlight.

    3 - in Spain many dogs spend the night outdoors and are professionals at barking at people as they walk by. This would wake the owners and neighbourhood.

    4 - you really, really, need to make sure you wear high visibily clothing. In fact that is the law in Spain when walking on roads after sunset.
     
  3. Rick M

    Rick M Active Member

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    I have never done it, and I imagine that if I did, it would be a gong show. There are no street lights. You don't know the trail. Conditions vary. There are turns, hills, and forks in the road. On the parts along or near a road, you risk being hit by a car. The every present yellow arrows may be hard to spot at night. There are hordes of hungry zombies that come out at night. OK, I just made that last part up, but you get the idea.

    In all seriousness, people do it with headlamps. I can't imagine its like strolling down Arbutus street in the mist, more like bumbling through Pacific Spirit park and tripping over rocks and roots.

    Buen Camino
     
  4. dougfitz

    dougfitz Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I have walked in the pre-dawn dark, when things are going to get easier as the light increases, and only once after dusk. Difficult, but not impossible at those times. If you do want to walk after civil twilight, I would be less worried about the presence of zombies than the absence of bars, cafes and a place to stay when you want to stop. Irrespective of whether you plan to use an albergue, hostel or hotel, you won't be a welcome guest in the early morning when people are cleaning up the establishment and preparing it for the afternoon influx of pilgrims.
     
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  5. dougfitz

    dougfitz Veteran Member Donating Member

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    As an aside, there are a small number of places, like the wonderful albergue at San Anton, that normally welcome pilgrims from sunrise to sunset, and at least allow them to use the albergue facilities if not the dormitory. I know that doesn't help if you are on the Norte!
     
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  6. SYates

    SYates Camino Fossil AD 1999 Donating Member

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    The meseta certainly lends itself so walking by night - only problem - where do you sleep during the day as the albergues normally don't open before 13:00 earliest. You could also aim to stay at places like San Anton and San Bol which are in the middle of 'nowhere' and enjoy the solitude there. Buen Camino, SY
     
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  7. fraluchi

    fraluchi Veteran Member Donating Member

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    There are quite a few incognitos involved here. And I speak of experience. Depending on the location, time of year and climate, fog is the worst enemy (well, snow is worse of course). Even without it, one often misses the arrows or other signs of the path. On uneven and otherwise difficult tracks, in the middle of nowhere, with no other people within the nearest couple kilometers, one only feels like wanting to sit it out until the sun rises. In the pouring rain, facing slush and flooded brooks in the dark, the alternatives of carrying on are limited at best. GPS is nice but can sometimes be a useless gadget depending upon signal. With full moon there may be some respite, but that's a speculation, fatal in wooded areas.
    All of this may apply to night walks in unknown and very variable terrain. o_O
     
  8. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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  9. Northern Laurie

    Northern Laurie Member

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    @dougfitz I had thought about the sleeping issue. I figured in a worst case scenario, I could sleep rough (won't be the first time), so I wasn't too worried about it.

    @MinaKamina Thank you for the link! That is indeed helpful advice. It was awesome to read other's comments
     
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  10. jerbear

    jerbear Active Member

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    Please check with the spainish police. There are laws as to how and when to walk in spain. They are NOW enforcing them.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2017
  11. SYates

    SYates Camino Fossil AD 1999 Donating Member

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    Do you have a link to this kind of information? The only law regarding the how and when of walking I know of is if you are walking alongside a road/road crossings in the dark/poor visibility. Then you are required to wear a high-visibility vest. Buen Camino, SY
     
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  12. scott the farmer

    scott the farmer New Member

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    Interesting have walked some early mornings so my 2 cents worth
    I make the assumption that you have good night vision
    Modern technology makes it easier to stay on track so have that enadled
    If leaving alberges early be well prepared and do any extra organising outside the dorms
    Avoid areas where there are roads cuts down the risk for you and motorists
    The main time I have seen this happen is close to Santiago where young people want to push on
    (this was 70-80 km walks)
    I would suggest the early morning starts in summer which are more common may suit your style
    But please make the effort not to disturb others who need their sleep
     
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  13. jerbear

    jerbear Active Member

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    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  14. jsalt

    jsalt Jill Donating Member

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    Most farm dogs all over Spain are unchained at night, so you might experience some nasty encounters if you try walking past them in the dark.
    Jill
     
  15. Marianne2011

    Marianne2011 New Member

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    I have gotten caught post sundown and it was so pitch black that I didn't know where the pathways even with my headlight, so walking at night will never be for me.
     
  16. Coleen Clark

    Coleen Clark Active Member Donating Member

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    I got up and walked by mistake in September of 2015.
    The night of the Super Moon crept up on me. I thought it was dawn. I could not understand why there were still so many people in the albergue asleep. So I quietly got my pack and sneakers and went out in the hall, made my toilet break and hit the trail. 4am???????
    It was really light out, but the shadows were coming in from the East and the West.:confused:
    Beautiful morning!
     
  17. Pelegrin

    Pelegrin Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Yes, and walk on your left .
     
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  18. dougfitz

    dougfitz Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I took your original point to be that there were laws about walking at night anywhere in Spain. This report is about walking on roads in Europe generally, and says nothing more than countries can make their own laws within the general pedestrian codes. What a remarkable revalation! I don't think it addresses @SYates' question. So if you do really want to be nice, perhaps you could find something that does address your original point.
     
  19. jerbear

    jerbear Active Member

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    Sorry walk as you wish.
     
  20. dougfitz

    dougfitz Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  21. james walter purdum iv

    james walter purdum iv Active Member

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    It's like walking through the louve with the lights off. Nothing to see but 3 feet of a dirt path ahead of u. I started at 7am brightening up and saw the 8:22am sunrise every morning awesome then enjoyed the beauty all day.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2017
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  22. wcsjms

    wcsjms Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    If by chance you decide to walk when it is dark, follow the god advice here and one other piece of advice. Last year there were times we did walk in the dark and used our 180 lumen headlamp and once missed a very important marker because of lack of light, which caused us to walk a lot of extra kilometers in very cold, rainy conditions. This year I bought myself a 5000 lumen head lamp, yes 5000 lumens. Not to be used inside alburgues.
     
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  23. Northern Laurie

    Northern Laurie Member

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    So - the night walking checklist (thank you to all - emphasis is my attempt to be funny):

    1) Do not flash lights around in albergues and
    2) Don't be noisy on departure
    (definitely sense a theme here through all the threads)

    3) Walk facing traffic & single file (thank you @jerbear )
    4) Expect to get lost and lose markers. Use navigation software (have to find the vibrating directional app)
    5) Bring my own light
    6) Wear something shiny and reflective
    7) Try to time it for full moons and places without trees
    8) and my personal favourite (not mentioned above)... don't walk down cliffs.
     
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  24. poogeyejr

    poogeyejr Active Member

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    I found walking around the villages at night was enjoyable. I was on the Norte so the seaside towns often had numerous places to explore, I would arrive at the hostel, take a nap, then spend my evenings exploring the local surroundings, sometimes arriving back at the hostel just before curfew. I would walk 20km stages but another 2-6 km around the villages.
     
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  25. Northern Laurie

    Northern Laurie Member

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    @poogeyejr that is a really good idea too - thank you.
     
  26. jsalt

    jsalt Jill Donating Member

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    and 9) be prepared to be attacked by unchained guard dogs.
     
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  27. Anemone del Camino

    Anemone del Camino Anemone

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    And waking up the neighbourhood in the process.
     
  28. wcsjms

    wcsjms Active Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Also, cover the metal tips of your trekking polls going through villages and such. Rest assured the residents do not want to hear our clicking going through their towns in the wee hours :)
     
  29. HedaP

    HedaP Active Member Donating Member

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    Met a young peregrino in 2015 who told me about walking one night when he couldn't sleep. At one stage he turned around and saw two yellow eyes behind him. He yelled and waved his arms multiple times to no avail. Those yellow eyes followed him for a whole hour. He never walked at night again.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017 at 10:23 PM
  30. MinaKamina

    MinaKamina Active Member

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    I read this at mid-day, in the safety of my own home.
    Still creeped me out.

    Remembered it again while taking the dog out for a walk at night .... :eek: :eek: :eek:
     
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  31. james walter purdum iv

    james walter purdum iv Active Member

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  32. Marianne2011

    Marianne2011 New Member

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