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St. Olavsleden went south - assumption is the mother of all screw ups

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
I need to get this off my chest. I've been assuming things again, and this time it really went sideways. I got horribly, irrevocably stuck. Take notice, my fellow pilgrims and travellers, of the woes and misfortune that befell me, and be warned. Writing this account starts in Åsen, Norway, where I am sitting on the porch of a stuga on camping Gulleberget, drinking whiskey and trying to decide which pair of socks I'm going to wear on the plane tomorrow, based on the smell of each pair. My beloved is reading a book inside, relieved we are flying home within twenty-four hours. Nine days before our originally planned return.

We were going to walk from Sundsvall towards Trondheim, the St. Olavsleden, and I was already comfortable with the fact that we weren't going to make it all the way. We had three weeks, and it would have been unrealistic to think we would finish in Trondheim in that timeframe. I would have been happy if we made it just over the border between Sweden and Norway. But I did assume (no.1) that my wife would like everything about the experience as much as I would. After all, we walked the Pieterpad in the Netherlands last year, and worked out a lot of kinks in those eighteen days. I had promised I wouldn't go nuts with the daily distances and corresponding pressure of "I'd like to end here today".

And then the tarmac on the Olavsleden happened. I knew from earlier research that there would be some, but my initial thought, that gravel roads would provide some reprieve from the asphalt, proved false. Especially on the first few stages the gravel roads looked and felt just like the dreaded tarmac, that my wife hates with a vengeance. She finds walking on it boring, uninspiring and ultimately physically painful.

It turned out that I am a pilgrim, and she is a hiker. We both get different things out of walking, so our views about walking differ. I can embrace everything the path throws at me because overcoming discomfort and difficulties on the way is an integral (and uplifting) part of that path for me. My wife can, and will, suck it up to a certain point, after which she is done with it. Walking for her is about enjoying nature, culture, meeting people and the exercise, and it is not meant to be a struggle for extended periods of time. It's a holiday, for chrissake! Of course both points of view have merit.

So we started thinking, and made a new plan. We would skip some bits with a lot of the dreaded asphalt, using buses and trains, and create an new itinerary that would get us walking into Trondheim within three weeks after all, including the last 100 km on foot. It saddened me a lot at first, because 'skipping bits' goes against my idea of walking a pilgrim route, but I had to respect my wife's difficulties with the asphalt too. After about a day I felt at peace about the plan, because it was the most elegant solution we could come up with, for the both of us.

And then assumption number 2 hit me squarely in the face. As a try-out, I had brought a Radical Design Wheelie walking cart, instead of a backpack. Boys and their toys. It has a 70 liter bag, can handle 40 kgs and is generally a nifty piece of gear. It performs beautifully on tarmac, gravel and semi-smooth paths that are more than a foot wide. What's not to like? Well, there's also trails of less than a foot wide, riddled with rocks or roots. And there the Wheelie didn't do as well as I had thought. I had some seething tantrums ramming, slogging and hauling the thing up and down hills on tiny game trails. I missed my pack like crazy. So if you're thinking about using a walking cart like the Wheelie on the St. Olavsleden, don't. Just don't.

And to wrap it all up, the last assumption we both ran into was the one that finally broke the spine of our walk together. The weather changed. We have had a glorious spring and summer in Europe this year, and I thought it would last for a bit longer than it did. The Swedes and Norwegians loved the rain that started at the end of our first week, because it had been ridiculously dry for months (resulting in devastating forest fires all over Sweden for one thing). We didn't like it so much. Our tent started leaking, walking in the rain for three days straight sogged everything we carried and frankly we were underequipped for the fast dropping temperatures and the wetness. It would have been irresponsible to continue.

So there. We threw in the towel, wry pun intended. The weather forecast looked bad for the days to come, and we decided to pack it in and go home. We had reached Sul in Norway, walking and skipping parts, and the gods had decided to rain on our parade. I felt, and (finishing this account at home behind my laptop) still feel sort of heartbroken. But enough is enough. In time I will undoubtedly feel proud of the way we got as far as we did, kept talking and kept making the best of difficult situations, but for now it just sucks. And if someone wants to react to this story, please don't quote "the camino doesn't give you what you want, it gives you what you need". Please.

But, on a lighter note, what we saw and experienced while we were walking was awesome. I will come back to the St. Olavsleden, either to finish the one we abandoned or walk the one from Oslo to Trondheim. It will be on my own though: my wife now knows that a pilgrim path is not for her. And in the meantime I will gladly accompany her on interesting hikes, trails and treks. Without asphalt, and with a lot of sunshine. And my backpack.
 

KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ),Via San Francesco, Italy (2017 )Camino Portugese (2018 )Camino Ingles(
I need to get this off my chest. I've been assuming things again, and this time it really went sideways. I got horribly, irrevocably stuck. Take notice, my fellow pilgrims and travellers, of the woes and misfortune that befell me, and be warned. Writing this account starts in Åsen, Norway, where I am sitting on the porch of a stuga on camping Gulleberget, drinking whiskey and trying to decide which pair of socks I'm going to wear on the plane tomorrow, based on the smell of each pair. My beloved is reading a book inside, relieved we are flying home within twenty-four hours. Nine days before our originally planned return.

We were going to walk from Sundsvall towards Trondheim, the St. Olavsleden, and I was already comfortable with the fact that we weren't going to make it all the way. We had three weeks, and it would have been unrealistic to think we would finish in Trondheim in that timeframe. I would have been happy if we made it just over the border between Sweden and Norway. But I did assume (no.1) that my wife would like everything about the experience as much as I would. After all, we walked the Pieterpad in the Netherlands last year, and worked out a lot of kinks in those eighteen days. I had promised I wouldn't go nuts with the daily distances and corresponding pressure of "I'd like to end here today".

And then the tarmac on the Olavsleden happened. I knew from earlier research that there would be some, but my initial thought, that gravel roads would provide some reprieve from the asphalt, proved false. Especially on the first few stages the gravel roads looked and felt just like the dreaded tarmac, that my wife hates with a vengeance. She finds walking on it boring, uninspiring and ultimately physically painful.

It turned out that I am a pilgrim, and she is a hiker. We both get different things out of walking, so our views about walking differ. I can embrace everything the path throws at me because overcoming discomfort and difficulties on the way is an integral (and uplifting) part of that path for me. My wife can, and will, suck it up to a certain point, after which she is done with it. Walking for her is about enjoying nature, culture, meeting people and the exercise, and it is not meant to be a struggle for extended periods of time. It's a holiday, for chrissake! Of course both points of view have merit.

So we started thinking, and made a new plan. We would skip some bits with a lot of the dreaded asphalt, using buses and trains, and create an new itinerary that would get us walking into Trondheim within three weeks after all, including the last 100 km on foot. It saddened me a lot at first, because 'skipping bits' goes against my idea of walking a pilgrim route, but I had to respect my wife's difficulties with the asphalt too. After about a day I felt at peace about the plan, because it was the most elegant solution we could come up with, for the both of us.

And then assumption number 2 hit me squarely in the face. As a try-out, I had brought a Radical Design Wheelie walking cart, instead of a backpack. Boys and their toys. It has a 70 liter bag, can handle 40 kgs and is generally a nifty piece of gear. It performs beautifully on tarmac, gravel and semi-smooth paths that are more than a foot wide. What's not to like? Well, there's also trails of less than a foot wide, riddled with rocks or roots. And there the Wheelie didn't do as well as I had thought. I had some seething tantrums ramming, slogging and hauling the thing up and down hills on tiny game trails. I missed my pack like crazy. So if you're thinking about using a walking cart like the Wheelie on the St. Olavsleden, don't. Just don't.

And to wrap it all up, the last assumption we both ran into was the one that finally broke the spine of our walk together. The weather changed. We have had a glorious spring and summer in Europe this year, and I thought it would last for a bit longer than it did. The Swedes and Norwegians loved the rain that started at the end of our first week, because it had been ridiculously dry for months (resulting in devastating forest fires all over Sweden for one thing). We didn't like it so much. Our tent started leaking, walking in the rain for three days straight sogged everything we carried and frankly we were underequipped for the fast dropping temperatures and the wetness. It would have been irresponsible to continue.

So there. We threw in the towel, wry pun intended. The weather forecast looked bad for the days to come, and we decided to pack it in and go home. We had reached Sul in Norway, walking and skipping parts, and the gods had decided to rain on our parade. I felt, and (finishing this account at home behind my laptop) still feel sort of heartbroken. But enough is enough. In time I will undoubtedly feel proud of the way we got as far as we did, kept talking and kept making the best of difficult situations, but for now it just sucks. And if someone wants to react to this story, please don't quote "the camino doesn't give you what you want, it gives you what you need". Please.

But, on a lighter note, what we saw and experienced while we were walking was awesome. I will come back to the St. Olavsleden, either to finish the one we abandoned or walk the one from Oslo to Trondheim. It will be on my own though: my wife now knows that a pilgrim path is not for her. And in the meantime I will gladly accompany her on interesting hikes, trails and treks. Without asphalt, and with a lot of sunshine. And my backpack.
Ahhhh yes, the best laid plans... Thank you for sharing your story. I'm considering St Olov's Way for the next/ or next after Camino. Carry on, Good Man, Carry On !
 

Paladina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycled caminos francés, Finisterre, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles et al (2018)
Whatever your wants or needs, @Purky, this candid post surely calls for some forum empathy not received wayside wisdom. It’s not the first time that the Camino has been either the cause or the consequence of marital discord. I hope the agreed parting of the pilgrim/hiking ways proves beneficial to you both.

I’ve no experience of a walking cart, but I do use a bike trailer for hauling bulky items. Much as I love its carrying capacity, Ireland’s legendary floods and potholes effectively reduced the last one to a heap of spare parts, shedding one wheel and dumping 30kg of ripe tomatoes into the road. I have never even considered bringing its replacement on the Camino.

I wish you soft ground and sunshine (but not too much) on your next walk with or without your beloved, and not forgetting your old best friend, your trusty backpack!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo
It will be on my own though: my wife now knows that a pilgrim path is not for her. And in the meantime I will gladly accompany her on interesting hikes, trails and treks.
Yeah, we worked that out too. Now we are both happy :D!
Jill
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes please!
So sorry to hear that, my deepest sympathies for the suckiness. I was supposed to walk Oslo to Trondheim this summer and ran into the opposite weather problem - it was just too hot. Long distances of dreaded tarmac with no services, no shade and 2 litres = 2 kgs more water than planned to haul along, and no rain or cloud cover forecast for weeks. We both had heat stroke symptoms more than once and wouldn't have got to Trondheim in the time we had if we slowed down, so decided unhappily (but in hindsight sensibly) to leave it for another time. It takes time to get over it though. I find planning my next camino helps :D
 

VNwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (14/15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/??/Invierno ('19)
What a debacle, @Purky! Unfortunately with assumptions, often one never knows of their existence until unfortunate 20/20 hindsight. You did the best you could and the bright side is that you both survived and are still talking to each other - and seem to have worked out a compromise for future adventures, together and separately.
May you have a buen camino, next time!
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
Thanks all, for your sympathy. To make up for the darkness in my earlier story, I'll post two pics that I made on the way. Because between the tarmac, the rain and my fights with the Wheelie, the Olavsleden also led us through a lot of places of almost unimaginable beauty and wonder. There's that, too...
 

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