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We are Wimps!

Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#1
A Pakistani friend of mine writes to me from Pakistan and he just sent some photos of mountain climbing at K2 which included some photos of porters. They carry Between 25 and 50 kilos, wearing only plimsoles stuffed with dried grass to firm them up so they don't slip so easily. This is a photo of two of them. The air is rarified up there but they don't seem stressed, why their hair is even neatly combed. Which made me think - all our stripping down pack weight - we are such Wimps!!!!!

image.jpg
 

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Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
#2
I am not sure that the wear and tear suffered by porters is going to be evident in a photograph like this, and no one trip of this nature will be obviously stressful. The damage will accumulate over many journeys.

My experience with porters was on Mt Kilimanjaro, and my observation is that these are people desperate for any paid work. If it weren't for some regulations and enforcement by the authorities, they would accept much worse working conditions. @David, rather than being evidence that we are wimps, as you put it, it is that in places like Nepal and even in Africa, we are exploitative cheapskates. I suspect we wouldn't allow pack animals to be subjected to the same relative loads we allow porters to carry.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
#3
Doug, I am well aware of how poor they are and also can guess at how many seasons they can do before they break, and also that they get paid by what they carry.

Thing is - I was doing humour.

I could just as easily have posted this photo of Australian soldiers - their kit, with weapons and ammunition is about 65 pounds (and they aren't poor and they don't wear out and they are not abused by the Capitalist tourist society .etc etc)

Re the soldiers pic below - We are wimps!! :):)

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Camino(s) past & future
Mar 2010, May/Jun 2016, Sep 2011, 2012, Apr 2014, St Olav's Way 2018
#4
Thing is - I was doing humour.
Sorry, but I don't find our treatment of either porters or soldiers very amusing, in any context. When we turn people into beasts of burden with the prospect of permanent damage and little of the care we would display for pack animals, we are at our worst.
 
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M

Mark Lee

Guest
#7
Sorry, but I don't find our treatment of either porters or soldiers very amusing, in any context. When we turn people into beasts of burden with the prospect of permanent damage and little of the care we would display for pack animals, we are at our worst. It worries me that you are prepared to suggest this is humourous.
Well, I wouldn't say those soldiers in the photo are being mistreated in any way. They are infantry, and in the infantry you carry heavy loads on your back for long distances. That's the way it has always been and always will be. A grunt humps a ruck, and as they would tell us in the Corps...stop your whining (they didn't actually say "whining"), you signed up for this stuff (they didn't actually say "stuff"). Those young men in the photo wouldn't have it any other way, and if they are like grunts everywhere, they work hard and play hard.
But David is right. It is wimpy to whine about a 10 kg load on your back, bouncing between coffee breaks on the Camino compared to the 35-45 kg loads carried by the military on long marches, night movements and even parachuting out of an airplane with it. But those guys are considerably younger and fitter though than the average peregrino/peregrina. I find it amusing when a poster on here under the age of thirty asks about how difficult walking the Camino is.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
#11
I posted this in another thread and I will add a slightly edited version here too.

This community is a bit like a big group of friends and acquaintances who meet up at the café, bar or break room at work and discuss everything under the sun but mainly Camino related stuff. If it was all serious it would get a bit boring after a while and a bit of humour from time to time is a pleasant relief. We may not always agree with each other on various issues but the main thing to remember here is not to take posts like this too seriously or get too animated by them, these are the fun ones, the ones that make us smile and brighten up our day. Enjoy them in the spirit in which they were intended.
 

zzotte

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 Camino Frances, 2014 Lourdes to SDC, 2016 Camino del Norte
#12
Yes let's face it we are wimps :) when it gets a little tough ( i.e. No coffee) with our 5kg backpacks and dressed like nomads what do we do? Take a taxi to next town and brag about how hard they walked hahaha

Zzotte
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#15
Doug, I am well aware of how poor they are and also can guess at how many seasons they can do before they break, and also that they get paid by what they carry.

Thing is - I was doing humour.

I could just as easily have posted this photo of Australian soldiers - their kit, with weapons and ammunition is about 65 pounds (and they aren't poor and they don't wear out and they are not abused by the Capitalist tourist society .etc etc)

Re the soldiers pic below - We are wimps!! :):)

View attachment 20142
Well, these boys are payroll, perhaps like pilgrims in the past who walked on behalf of a rich lord or as penance, bit still on payroll, amd do nothing more than train for this work.
 

Bajaracer

Camino Frances 2013 Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013) Jun-Jul SJPDP to Finisterre
#16
They don't have a choice on lightening their load, soldiers and porters are bound by a mandatory packing list, or by what they are paid to carry. We Pilgrims have the choice of how much or how little they are willing to carry.
When I was a young soldier you can bet I would have ditched all that useless gear in a heartbeat.
 

William Garza

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, The Jakobsweg
#17
They don't have a choice on lightening their load, soldiers and porters are bound by a mandatory packing list, or by what they are paid to carry. We Pilgrims have the choice of how much or how little they are willing to carry.
When I was a young soldier you can bet I would have ditched all that useless gear in a heartbeat.
My old,mentor and friend of my heart..
A Veteran...
"Peanut Butter,a first aid kit,dog tags and a spoon"
 

Wyvernsridge

Alex from Australia
Camino(s) past & future
First Camino (Frances) - October 2013
Second Camino (Norte) - September 2015
Third Camino (Frances) - October 2017
#18
OK ~ I've done my time in the Australian Army and carried way-too-much weight (and an M60 machine gun of 11Kg). I have walked the Overland Trail with 25Kg of pack .. and done the Camino Frances with 14Kg. It's always been the case that you carry as little as you can to do the job that you have to do. There is no kudos in carrying more than you have to. The Camino is set up for pilgrims to walk while carrying relatively small weights, so just enjoy it and worry about something else.
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
The Frances from Pamplona and part VF, first-aid helper and hospitalera
#19
Being a Grade-A, Card-Carrying Wimp, I've hesitated to say this, but when I looked at the photo of the porters crossing the river, my first thought was "could they be wearing the mens' Macabi skirts"? It's absolutely appalling how the power of brands (particularly for a Camino addict) can worm its way into your psyche ... ;)
 

Barbara06

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - Pamplona (2011-14)
VDLP (2015)
Portuguese (2015)
Francigena (2016)
Primitivo (2017)
#20
We choose to do the camino for fun.
The soldiers choose to train to carry heavy loads as a living.
The porters carry very heavy loads for money to live (maybe they don't have the choice,..)
These situations are incomparable, each one does not have the same training, nor the same reasons.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances in Spring 2016
#21
The title of this thread is 'We are Wimps'. And in general in this forum we are. Look around: what brand of poncho? Is Merino the best? Boots or shoes? Check in walking poles?
Ah guys. Come on. It's a pilgrimage (for me, anyway) and for some a 'long walk'.
Sorry, must rush. There's technicial T's on special at Lidl today
Buen Camino
 

Arn

Moderator
Staff member
#22
One of the required reading books for Marine Officers is:
  1. The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation
    Book by S.L.A. Marshal
BGen Marshall either served, or reported from active combat actions: Poncho Via (Tex/Mex border), WW's 1 & 2 and Korea.

One of my favorite quotes is by BGen Marshall on Colonel Cole on what and when a Foreign Legionnaire will carry:
“By a series of calculations which need not be here explained, Colonel Cole has concluded that the individual weights carried within the legions were as follows:

1. Total for road marching 57.21 lbs/25.9 kg.
2. Total for approach march 44 lbs/22 kg.
3. Tactical load in combat zone 33 lbs/15 kg.”
S.L.A. Marshall, The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a Nation
As you can see, the weight has to do with the mission:(1) Moving with all the gear necessary to set up a base camp with sufficient food for three days and ammo relative to the threat during the movement.
2. Must Have personal gear (peanut butter, chocolate, First Aid kit, dog tags and a spoon h/t WG. And, ammo sufficient for expected contact, or follow on action. Water and ammo make up the bulk of the weight. In my case a 5lb block of chocolate.
3. Ability to move, shoot and communicate as your unit closes with and destroys the enemy. Again, if what you carry doesn't support that necessity then you aren't carrying enough ammo and chocolate.

My son, also a Marine, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan (4 pumps). With the exception of infantry training, he never carried a full kit. (1) is replaced by trucks/helos. (2) Approach march relatively the same lbs/kgs. (3) Tactical movement...good boots, clean water and ammo sufficient for immediate contact. Additional by helo/airdrop. Don't ask for chocolate...it will be eaten by the aircrew before it arrives.

Now, we pilgrims have similar weight considerations:

1. Initial planning pack weight...57.21 lbs/25.9 kg. Must be including the "might needs"
2. Following Forum members painful comments and suggestions...44 lbs/22 kg. Come on...do you really need a two person tent (for you and your pack), iron skillet, extra boots, jackets, etc.
3. Prior to the initial trek from SJPDP to Roncesvalles (as an example)...33 lbs/15 kg. Not bad. Now, if you really think you still need that 2lb/4kg skillet and 5 lb / 2.26 kg camelback in addition to the three extra water bottles it's time to mail some things ahead. But not the 5lb chocolate bar. Remove the final "might needs" and your pack is now a respectable 26 lb/11.8 kg.

This thread made several comparisons among the varying loads carried by porters, servicemen and pilgrims. And, I submit all are wimps. Wise Individuals Making Proper Selections, based on their personal needs.
 

Tanoli

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 6 2018
#24
We are so obsessed with happiness and comfort that we sometimes fail to see the value if sadness and discomfort and new ways of thinking it may lead to. You fully know a person after you've hiked with them...seen who they are/become/we're all along after they've walked 5 miles uphill. The facade of civilization falls away as bodily needs take over. That's when we hear stories of pilgrims being selfish and racing for beds and showers and waking everybody up trying to leave at 5a.m to get to the next bed and shower before their fellow human. That's also when we hear stories of people stopping to take care of their fellow pilgrim's sore feet, giving up their bed for others or sharing the last bit of water they have with their thirsty travel companion who's a stranger a few hours ago.
Throw yourself out there into the unknown. Plan reasonably but don't get obsessed and do not freak out when things don't turn out how you'd planned. You'd be surprised at how much love is in your fellow human being's heart. You'll find them and you'll find yourself. Otherwise you are just walking 500 miles without having seen and experienced much and all you got was some stories for your blog or videos for your YouTube channel.
 



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