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The Camino vs other trails

s. brown

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2015
I have yet to walk the camino, but want to and actively research this topic. I have friends (husband and wife) who have listened to me talk about my desire to make this pilgrimage. They come just short of making fun of this. The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. (She has done neither, nor has he). The husband tells me I don't have to go as far as France and Spain to turn any walk into something spiritual. I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them. All of my other friends remain interested and encourage my fascination and preparation. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?
 

amorfati1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014_Caminho Portuguese (Lisboa to Santiago_4 weeks in May)
I have yet to walk the camino, but want to and actively research this topic. I have friends (husband and wife) who have listened to me talk about my desire to make this pilgrimage. They come just short of making fun of this. The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. (She has done neither, nor has he). The husband tells me I don't have to go as far as France and Spain to turn any walk into something spiritual. I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them. All of my other friends remain interested and encourage my fascination and preparation. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?
hi S. and good evening greetings -
reading your post, this quote popped into my mind:
"Don't listen to friends when the Friend inside you says "Do this"." - M.Gandhi

That said - no, I haven't encountered anything like you described. But usually when someone gets a bit hot underneath the collar about any given topic, it says more about them than the actual topic.
What is also interesting to me is that 'the wife' declares the camino is no different than the AT -- but has not attempted nor completed any of them. (as i understood your message)
How much credence would you give a dentist with bad teeth? or a person who has never left tropical weather zones to declare that the Arctic is not different than their walk-in-freezer?
Let not anyone define what's spiritual or important for you. If you feel called to walk the camino, that's all you and they need to know!
You are an adult and don't need to ask for permission, nor need to defend or justify.
Often when one sets out to such an 'adventure' it can create all sorts of reactions in others - from jealousy to disbelief to ridicule. Again, it says more about them than about the 'adventure' or what you intend to do with your life.
Tell 'em to take a long hike on a short pier ...and set your ears on "draft" (i.e. in one ear, out the other) whenever that topic comes up and you feel undermined by their attempt to 'make fun of it'.
You are daring something with this camino - and that often sets off all sorts of 'fear' reactions in others. And much of it is about their own unacknowledged fear that life 'passes them by' without the same daring and trusting that you might exhibit by declaring to walk the camino.
Hurray for your friends who are interested and encourage you - Stick with those whose company is uplifting! (Does wonders for ones nerves :)
very best wishes - and enjoy the preparation and looking forward to the pilgrimage - and Bom Caminho!
 

Leaningforward

Active Member
Hi S,

I have lived about a mile from the Appalachian Travel for more than 25 years but had hiked less than a mile of the trail prior to walking the Camino Frances in February this year.

I was drawn to walk the ancient Christian pilgrimage -- by faith (as an Anglican). I became a pilgrim on the Camino, one step at a time, and underwent a deep fundamental transformation.

Since returning from Spain in March, I have walked sections of the AT near my home, and many more miles on the mountains it crosses. The AT is far more physically challenging and remote than the Camino. I have yet to meet and talk to anyone hiking the AT from start to finish who has not expressed interest in walking the Camino.

While I have enjoyed (most of) my time on the AT and count myself very fortunate to have beautiful challenging places to hike so close to home, my thoughts turn each day to the Camino -- as they do each day to God. For me, the two are inextricably linked.

Of course, family and friends don't understand all the fuss about the Camino -- it's not something one would understand or appreciate until one experiences it -- a bit like tasting chocolate for the first time.

Good wishes to you.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I am an avid trekker, always looking for an interesting trail when I go to another country. The first time I went to the Camino it was out of curiosity, and a desire to know rural Spain.Fast enough, I discovered it was completely different, a unique experience, because of:
* Pilgrims have been walking the Camino since the tenth century, at least. So, (if you care about that) when you walk it, you are continuing a very ancient tradition. I fancy I can almost hear, sometimes, the soft echo of sandals on the path, of many, many people along the ages.
* Yes, there are routes with more spectacular landscapes (or more physically challenging). But it would be difficult to find another one with this magnificent art and cultural heritage (again, if you are interested in history or art).
* You can meet in the Camino walkers from all around the world. This is quite peculiar; it is multinational and multicultural.
* Walkers are (were?) considered as pilgrims. And that is why there are albergues, manned by unpaid volunteers and supported by city halls, parish and charitable associations from many countries.
Having said that, it is true that you can find spirituality and communion with Nature, or God, or whatever you believe in, in any place. And many people do the Camino just for fun, or because it is a cheap vacation, or as a sport activity. But you can find also many who do it for spiritual or religious reasons, because they are looking for peace and a moment of solitude and reflection, or because they have arrived at a difficult moment of their lives.
Anyway, you have “to feel the call”, to make hundreds of miles on foot, braving bad weather, loneliness (or overcrowding), blisters and tendinitis, or just plain demoralization (yes, it may come too, sometimes). If a person does not feel it, he/she would not understand your motivation. Personally, after the enthusiasm of my first Camino, I learnt to be discreet about my plans to come back again, and again. I only talk about it when a person shows some interest. If they are skeptic, or listen just out of politeness, I don't insist. It is a very personal thing.
 
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Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
I would be inclined to try to understand my friends' perspectives while at the same time not being discouraged by them. At the end of the day, though, they don't need to understand why you want to do this and I wouldn't try to convince them or defend myself.
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
Hi!

It's interesting that your friends aren't questioning your ability to walk the Camino. If you're capable of the A.T. you're capable of the Camino. Their rationale seems to be that there's no point going overseas for it. Similar rationale would say; "why go to London when New York is closer?' It kind of makes sense at a certain level (if you just want to see good theatre shows, for example), but on another level they're chalk and cheese.

I was reading some reviews this week about the Jesus Trail in Israel. By all accounts it's heavily littered in places, accommodation is not always great, and there are probably much better hikes in Israel and elsewhere. Despite pointing these negatives out, many reviewers also noted that this wasn't really the point. It's the historical and spiritual links, the meetings, understandings and kindnesses between people of different cultures that leave their mark. If you get that, you get how pilgrimages are that bit different and special.
 
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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
They don't understand .. they won't understand ... they can't understand - it is your journey, not theirs, so all is well.

There is a distinct difference between a walk, a hike, and a pilgrimage - one is a walk, the other is a journey, an inner journey that is manifested in the external Camino.

Buen Camino!!
 

Mike Savage

So many friends to meet . . . so little time
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés,Inglés
Muxia/Finisterre
Português Coastal
Português Central
Sanabrés
It seems to me most people don't understand. Some are interested, some try and others don't. For me it is a very personal thing and I really don't expect most people to understand. I am so thankful for this wonderful site where many people do understand. I believe most people look at it as a hike and for me it is a true pilgrimage.
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?
The Camino is a 1,000 years old pilgrimage route (s). It is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Anybody who states that the Camino is just another "hiking trail" is only showing that they do not know what they are talking about.

I would be more concerned about the fact that you seem to be compelled to have these folks validate your desire to do the Camino. If you care so much about what they think, you REALLY should do the Camino......
 

s. brown

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2015
I have yet to walk the camino, but want to and actively research this topic. I have friends (husband and wife) who have listened to me talk about my desire to make this pilgrimage. They come just short of making fun of this. The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. (She has done neither, nor has he). The husband tells me I don't have to go as far as France and Spain to turn any walk into something spiritual. I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them. All of my other friends remain interested and encourage my fascination and preparation. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?
Thanks everyone! You people are the best! I love your answers and I agree with them. I will not defend myself to my friends; I can see that this would be pointless. I believe their minds are made up. For that matter, so is mine! The Camino calls to me, and while it's mysterious as to why, that's the way it is. So be it!
 

northerngirl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
sept 2013 September 2014
You have heard the call to walk the "camino", they have not. The call will keep coming to you until you answer it. I did and went on my pilgrimage, my husband came along for the nice walk but he at one point became a pilgrim to on the
camino.
 

k1ypp

Member
I think amorfati1 pretty much nailed it. I don't think the general population understands long distance hiking, pilgrimages and anything that isn't an NFL, NBA or MLB sport. Don't even bother mentioning it in the future, it falls on deaf ears.

I've managed to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail, AT, (2007-2008), the Camino (2011), bicycled the Camino from Barcelona (2012), Hadrians Wall (2013), portions of the Southwest Coast Path, Cornwall, UK (2013), Portuguese Camino (2012) and The Ridgeway Path, UK (2014). I'd rank the AT as, by far, the toughest, but I'd have to rank the Camino Frances as perhaps my favorite. The international flavor, the scenery, the people, everything about it was just so memorable. Picking a favorite hike is like picking a favorite child.

The AT is tough. After 600 miles (1000 km), I had to leave the trail for a six-artery heart bypass operation, once recovered, 300 days later, I returned and finished that hike. The heart problem was genetic, nothing to do with the hike. In a sense, for me, the AT was a pilgrimage. My brother and I were in the military during the Vietnam conflict and promised each other to hike it together when we finished our duty. We didn't, he was killed in action in 1968. I took his Purple Heart Medal and set out on that hike with him in spirit, and when I finished on Mt. Katahdin, in Maine, on 1 October, 2008, I completed a pilgrimage that had started a very long time ago. I wrote a book about my experience, Three Hundred Zeroes. That book was inspired by Bill Bryson's book, A Walk In The Woods. Bill's book is a very humorous take on doing a long distance hike and I highly recommend it, although it doesn't translate very well to the Camino experience.

Most of my friends couldn't begin to understand why I would want to go off and do something so foolish, especially that late in life, I was 60. Their view was I should be out playing golf, or perhaps sitting on a couch watching one of the N** league games mentioned earlier. The cold, the heat, the bad weather, bears, mosquitoes and roving bands of armed and dangerous men (imaginary of course), were all good reasons to stay home. Of course, the reality was far different. I don't recommend the AT for everyone, it is very challenging and only about 10% of those that set out to hike it actually finish.

On the other hand, the Camino is less challenging, but don't let that fool you. It is still a challenge. There are hills and mountains, bad weather and all of the other things that go along with a very long walk. That said, it is one of the most gratifying and fulfilling personal experiences that one can undertake. Ignore those that would discourage you, unless they have been there and done that, they know not of what they speak. Like they say, “hike your own hike,” you'll not regret it.
 

amorfati1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014_Caminho Portuguese (Lisboa to Santiago_4 weeks in May)
Thanks everyone! You people are the best! I love your answers and I agree with them. I will not defend myself to my friends; I can see that this would be pointless. I believe their minds are made up. For that matter, so is mine! The Camino calls to me, and while it's mysterious as to why, that's the way it is. So be it!
Quite!
"We live by mystery and not by explanation." - Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
 

Scott Sweeney

Active Member
If walking the Camino de Santiago is something you desire to do then you should do that. I hate to use over used phrase but it is your camino and no one else. I do not believe you need to walk the Camino de Santiago to have a spiritual experience while walking, you can become close to your God on a walk through your local woods or the Appalachian Trail. I think people tend to become more overwhelmed with the grandeur of the churches and Cathedrals along the Camino and that may help rekindle some lost connection to their faith. There is a rhythm to prayers and walking regardless if it is along the Blue Ridge in Virginia or the deserts in Sedona.
 
W

Wanderer64

Guest
I’ve made a quiet, respectful agreement with my friends (and family) over the years: Don’t tell me how to plan my travels, and I promise not to inflict my travel photos and stories on you when I get back. It’s a deal that has proven to be mutually beneficial.

You have to remember that the percentage of humans who engage in independent travel remains a pretty small subset of the total population. Most people in the world never leave their home towns or regions. The percentage of humans who do long distance treks like the Camino is an even smaller minority. Don’t expect a great deal of sympathy and understanding from people who are genuinely baffled by your plans.

Even within the small subset of people who do enjoy independent travel and Camino-like treks, you will get egos barging into your decision making process, telling you why your decision is wrong, or why Trek-A is better than Trek-B. I guess the trick learning how to filter out the truly helpful advice from the unhelpful. Listen to your instincts, trust your inner compass, and just go.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
I have yet to walk the camino, but want to and actively research this topic. I have friends (husband and wife) who have listened to me talk about my desire to make this pilgrimage. They come just short of making fun of this. The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. (She has done neither, nor has he). The husband tells me I don't have to go as far as France and Spain to turn any walk into something spiritual. I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them. All of my other friends remain interested and encourage my fascination and preparation. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?
s.brown;

To some extant they are right. You do not have to go to Spain for a spiritual walk.

There are many different hikes from a pedestrian pathway to Mt. Everest and they all have a spiritual aspect to them. Each one offers the opportunity for an introspective journey outside of our normal daily routines. The differences in environment, physical challenge, support infrastructure, solidarity, community, history and other intangibles are what attract us to one , more or all of these journeys.

The Camino/s provide the right balance of these characteristics for me.

In regards to your friends, I would suggest you stick to other mutually enjoyable activities/discussions.

Ultreya,
Joe
 

Kerstinh47

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 16 May - 29 June, 2014
I have really enjoyed this thread; the questions and the responses. I can relate to @s. brown 's pre-camino experiences talking with people about something that for some reason (often difficult to articulate) tugs you to begin making plans! Using an excert from Mother Teresa 'do it anyway'.
For what it's worth, I have a dear, long time friend who seemed uninterested in my pre-camino babble.... Now he can't stop telling people about 'what I did', about how many people say they are going to do something and never do, etc, he has even called twice late at night to ask if I would be willing to talk with so-and-so about my camino.
The action of doing your camino, your way, in the place of your choosing is what is important; and interestingly, you'll find those that will be much more interested in your camino after you've done it.
You still may struggle to explain it, though.
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
I have yet to walk the camino, but want to and actively research this topic. I have friends (husband and wife) who have listened to me talk about my desire to make this pilgrimage. They come just short of making fun of this. The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. (She has done neither, nor has he). The husband tells me I don't have to go as far as France and Spain to turn any walk into something spiritual. I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them. All of my other friends remain interested and encourage my fascination and preparation. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?
I've hiked as far south as Isla Navarino and as far North as the Canol Road in the NWT. If what you're after is a rugged outdoor experience the camino isn't it. Most hikes require heavy lifting so most of the people you meet are younger rugged outdoors types. And if you find culture ... whose idea was it to bring a heavy cup of yoghurt?

The camino is by comparison a gentle walk through the countryside. Its attractions are history and culture found along the road and the companionship of people from all ages and walks of life.

What do you tell people who think the camino is just another walk? Tell them they are right ... cuz that is all it is.

Here is an analogy. People come to the camino for all sorts of reasons ... lets call it searching for gold ... and people usually come away with something else that enriches them ... usually it isn't what they came looking for. You're friends are right ... you don't have to walk the camino to go 'finding the gold'. But the camino is as good a place as any and easier to access than a lot of other places.

The spell of the Yukon

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it—
Came out with a fortune last fall,—
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
And somehow the gold isn’t all.

No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)
It’s the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
For no land on earth—and I’m one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason);
You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it’s been since the beginning;
It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow
In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
With the peace o’ the world piled on top.

The summer—no sweeter was ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness—
O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I’ve bade ’em good-by—but I can’t.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back—and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;
I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I’m skinned to a finish
I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
I’ll fight—and you bet it’s no sham-fight;
It’s hell!—but I’ve been there before;
And it’s better than this by a damsite—
So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ’way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

~Robert Service~

Sound familiar?
 

CaminoMatto

Member
Hi S.Brown!

Yes I too have experienced what you describe. When I tell people about my upcoming camino (family, friends etc) about half greet the news with a bland disinterested response which just shows how little they actually know about the way (ex "oh, spain eh? umm, cool". Others I find reacting the way you described above, sometimes coming off downright confrontational, (ex. "Spain? whatever man, there are trails right outside your front door ya know??"). However, its the third group of replies (smaller minority) that I really enjoy (ex. "Really? Your walking 800kms across a country you've never been too? that's amazing!! tell me more!!"). Some find the idea crazy, some find it unnecessary and some find the very mention of it exciting.

Everyone is different. Everyone will have different feelings about the camino whether they are going on it themselves or just hearing about your trip before or after. Just understand that some people will be indifferent to the idea, some will be intrigued and some will even think it is a silly idea and we are being silly ourselves for traveling half way around the world "just to walk".

As far as friends and family who just don't "get it" go, I don't tell them anything. I am far too busy packing, planning, reading, training and hanging out on this site to worry too much about what others think of my journey.
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-18
I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them.
This is, perhaps, a matter of self-identification. Your doubting friends define their own lives in terms that specify what is possible or not, what is valuable or not, what is worthwhile or not -- and neither the Camino nor the AT fit into their box. That's too bad, but it's not your problem. The great value of the Camino is the opportunity for an inward journey -- and isn't that a bit easier to do, if you are immersed in a community of others engaged in a similar pursuit? In fact, "community" may be the operative distinction here.
 

backpack45scb

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2001 CF, 04-6 LP, 07 Port, 08-10 Arles, 11 Mozá,12-13 Gen-LP. 00-10 PCT, 15 Norte, 16 Primi
The day after day routine of all the long distance trails gives the opportunity for hours of meditation. In my experience, at least, this gives a strongly spiritual quality to long distance hiking. Any of the routes to Santiago de Compostela give quite an additional experience. You are passing through the debris of a thousand years of Christian pilgrimage. Each day brings crumbling ruins, and also structures still strong and vital today. Irregardless of one's faith, this makes a unique and serious impression.

Don't expect your friends to understand. Despite best intentions, unless they have walked it, they do not know the experience.
 

s. brown

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2015
This is, perhaps, a matter of self-identification. Your doubting friends define their own lives in terms that specify what is possible or not, what is valuable or not, what is worthwhile or not -- and neither the Camino nor the AT fit into their box. That's too bad, but it's not your problem. The great value of the Camino is the opportunity for an inward journey -- and isn't that a bit easier to do, if you are immersed in a community of others engaged in a similar pursuit? In fact, "community" may be the operative distinction here.
So true. A community of pilgrims . . . I like that.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
The AT is not the Camino, and the Camino is not the AT. Walking and carrying a pack are the only things in common.
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010: Porto - SdC - Finisterra 2011: E4 on Crete 2012: Le Puy - SJPdP 2013: Camino Madrid -> Del Salvador -> Primitivo 2014: European Peace Walk. 2015: Amsterdam - SdC & Barcelona -Burgos. 2016:Norte & hospitalero
Don't think there is any right or wrong about spiritualness walking in europe are anywhere else.
Most important thing with friends for me is mutual interest in each others life and interest in the things which are special for my friends. Sounds like something else is happening at this moment between you and your friends. Hope you can find each other soon again in friendship.
 
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MaxfromMO

Member
No, you don't have to go to France of Spain to have a spiritual experience walking. That said the existence of the Camino depended upon Christians making their way to the tomb of St. James for nearly two thousand years. The AT does not exist for that purpose. That does not mean you cannot have a spiritual experience on the AT or other trails, but it's existence as a trek did not come into being as a Christian pursuit. Lest people jump all over me because I keep bringing up Christians, my point is that while the route existed before the tomb, the pilgrimages began as early Christians of the Catholic Church began making their way to the tomb seeking religious favors and pardons. For me the spiritual aspect was heightened by the centuries of pilgrims, possibly even ancestors, who had walked before me, who had been in some of the churches and Cathedrals before me. The sheer magnitude of the millions of people making their way to Santiago is overwhelming in itself. The PC or the AT simply do not offer those experiences. There are many people walking the Caminos as religious pilgrims specifically to experience what all those others pilgrims experienced. If that is what you want to experience you need to walk one of the Caminos. People do not primarily head out on the AT or the PC with that idea in mind.
 

Hbee

New Member
I need to chip in because I was asked a same question and I felt annoyed. Besides the pilgrimage/history/fantastic people of Spain etc. Camino also has bars every 5 km or so and that is what I like about Europe in general. There is always a place to sit down with coffee or beer :)
Buen Camino!
Hana
 

s. brown

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2015
I need to chip in because I was asked a same question and I felt annoyed. Besides the pilgrimage/history/fantastic people of Spain etc. Camino also has bars every 5 km or so and that is what I like about Europe in general. There is always a place to sit down with coffee or beer :)
Buen Camino!
Hana
I absolutely agree!
 

JamesL

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
may 2013
I have yet to walk the camino, but want to and actively research this topic. I have friends (husband and wife) who have listened to me talk about my desire to make this pilgrimage. They come just short of making fun of this. The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. (She has done neither, nor has he). The husband tells me I don't have to go as far as France and Spain to turn any walk into something spiritual. I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them. All of my other friends remain interested and encourage my fascination and preparation. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?
The Camino is NOT the AT. The AT is wilderness, predominantly, and you must carry a full kit (food, tent, etc.). It is all up and down and thru woods. Towns can be hours away from the trail itself. The Camino was created as a spiritual pilgrimage, but is a plain hiking trail, here in the modern world. It goes thru towns, farms, mountains (one slope is called "The Mule Killer"), rocks, sand, along canals, big cities and all but dead villages. It is supported by the federal government, local government, local clubs, international clubs (confraternities)
 

JamesL

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
may 2013
The Camino is NOT the AT. The AT is wilderness, predominantly, and you must carry a full kit (food, tent, etc.). It is all up and down and thru woods. Towns can be hours away from the trail itself. The Camino was created as a spiritual pilgrimage, but is a plain hiking trail, here in the modern world, and one needs not nearly so much gear to be safe and successful. . It goes thru towns, farms, mountains (one slope is called "The Mule Killer"), rocks, sand, along canals, big cities and all but dead villages. It is supported by the federal government, local government, local clubs, international clubs (confraternities)
OOPS, hit the wrong key.... and just plain folks along the trail. Every town has a catholic church or cathedral and a tavern. There is very little evidence of any other organized religion along the way, it is, after all in a "Catholic" country (invest in Rosetta Stone Spanish before you go, it was worth it to me). It is a personal challenge, as any long distance walk would be, and you are guaranteed a group of marvelous talking/walking companions along the way. It is what you make of it. What of the man we met who was walking from Lisbon to Jeruselem (EASTWARD) because he felt the need to do something to thank God for his life? What of the many folks (not just Catholic) that felt the touch of God up on the Iron Cross Peak? It is a personal thing. I walked it as a way to help the friend I walked with who was questioning his purpose after his wife died. It was definitely spiritual to him. Because of his meeting with others of his faith in so many little and big churches, it was a renewal for him. I am not Catholic, but felt it too. It is walking as meditation . You could certainly see the AT as a place for that too, but not with as much inherent history. I come from a community that traces it's founding to the early 1700s. We walked thru towns that were OLD in 1700. Santiago claims to be the burial placed of James the elder, there was a town then!
Yeah, it is just another walk. But then, I would not call the AT "just another walk" either!
You will do it some day... Buen Camino!
 

DKing

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept -Oct 2015
I have yet to walk the camino, but want to and actively research this topic. I have friends (husband and wife) who have listened to me talk about my desire to make this pilgrimage. They come just short of making fun of this. The wife tells me the camino is no different than any other hiking trail, the Appalachian Trail, for instance. That it is just as "spiritual" as the camino. (She has done neither, nor has he). The husband tells me I don't have to go as far as France and Spain to turn any walk into something spiritual. I'm not certain why this is some kind of hot topic with them. All of my other friends remain interested and encourage my fascination and preparation. Has anyone else encountered this and what do you tell these people who think the Camino is just another walk?

I was told I was crazy. I was told there is no need to go around the world to experience a "spiritual walk," though I believe spiritual experiences occur in many places there is not any one experience that is akin to the Camino. It is of it's own. I kept thinking in my own mind wow this must be absolutely insane of me to travel across the world and spend such a ridiculous amount of money to take a really long walk. Truth is I have never, and may never do anything as incredible as this was. If you are called to the Camino, answer that call. No one has to understand it but you. The call is loud once it is yours do not hold back, you will find there is something out there you must answer. And always buen camino.
 

howlsthunder

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2018)
Camino Francés (2020)
I have definitely experienced this problem. Still do. I backpack at home, so when I said I was going to walk the Camino, most family and friends were perplexed -- why wasn't I doing the AT? The PCT? Some trails in Austria? Confused, they supported me anyway, even though most of them still didn't seem to get it once I was home and telling them in-depth about it. The ones who did get excited were the ones who either HAD done it or now actually wanted to go; they were far and few between.

I've decided to do a second Camino and I'd like my sister to go with me (it would be her first). Again, confusion. Why am I going AGAIN? Why not go to X country and walk Y trail? ANY trail can be spiritual!

Yes, any walk can be spiritual. I try to feel *something* every time I'm in nature - or just admiring a nice day. I once had an amazing epiphany driving my car on a horrible, rainy day! But none of these things are the Camino: the deep history, the overwhelming sense of support and camaraderie from all kinds of strangers from all backgrounds from all over the world! AND there is nature and it can be beautiful, too. I'm still testing myself - just not *only* physically.

I could go on but ultimately it's yet another lesson that you have to do what enriches YOU - and that won't always be the thing that enriches those around you. For me, it's tough because I want excited support and approval from my family but all they can give is confused support. I have to learn to be good with approval from MYSELF.
 

davebugg

"When I Have Your Wounded" - Dustoff Motto
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
I have definitely experienced this problem. Still do. I backpack at home, so when I said I was going to walk the Camino, most family and friends were perplexed -- why wasn't I doing the AT? The PCT? Some trails in Austria? Confused, they supported me anyway, even though most of them still didn't seem to get it once I was home and telling them in-depth about it. The ones who did get excited were the ones who either HAD done it or now actually wanted to go; they were far and few between.

I've decided to do a second Camino and I'd like my sister to go with me (it would be her first). Again, confusion. Why am I going AGAIN? Why not go to X country and walk Y trail? ANY trail can be spiritual!

Yes, any walk can be spiritual. I try to feel *something* every time I'm in nature - or just admiring a nice day. I once had an amazing epiphany driving my car on a horrible, rainy day! But none of these things are the Camino: the deep history, the overwhelming sense of support and camaraderie from all kinds of strangers from all backgrounds from all over the world! AND there is nature and it can be beautiful, too. I'm still testing myself - just not *only* physically.

I could go on but ultimately it's yet another lesson that you have to do what enriches YOU - and that won't always be the thing that enriches those around you. For me, it's tough because I want excited support and approval from my family but all they can give is confused support. I have to learn to be good with approval from MYSELF.
Given this is a 2014 thread, I wonder how the OP resolved the issue?
 

howlsthunder

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2018)
Camino Francés (2020)
Given this is a 2014 thread, I wonder how the OP resolved the issue?
Good point. Most of the time I'm oblivious to the original post date because I figure the subject matter remains relevant to other pilgrims. I know when I was researching my first Camino the original date of the thread didn't matter to me! I still learned -- and am still learning -- a lot from this forum!

But it would be great to hear how the OP's Camino went! :D
 

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