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Live - Camino Francés What I've Learned So Far

CowboyJoe

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
I'm six days into the Camino. Here's what I've learned so far;
1. The Pyrenees route is steep and hard. Especially if you're in your 60s-70s. If you are in your 20s, not so much. But if you are not in good physical condition with a backpack, it can be a tough go. Best to overnight at Orrison. The uphill is hard, but the downhill afterwards is a killer. And if the weather's bad or raining, the downhill can be downright treacherous. But if the weather is good, the views can be stunning.
2. There seems to be plenty of rooms available.
3. There are numerous very steep ascents and descents for several days after the Pryenees that the guidebooks seem to gloss over.
4. A lot of advice has been given about the kind of shoes to wear, but I've not seen anything about the kind of soles you should have. Read the spec sheet on the boot and be sure that the sole is good in wet conditions--many are not. You do not want boots with soles that are slippery--especially in those down hill descents. Just because it says Vibram doesn't mean anything--Vibram makes all types of soles. I have s pair of Merrill's with Vibram that I wouldn't wear on wet pavement to take out the trash--and I have a I pair of Merrill's with Vibram soles I'm wearing on the Camino now.
5. Wear thin liner socks under mid-weight to heavy Smartwool socks. The liner is the key to prevent blisters.
6. Be prepared: it's not a leisurely walk from village to village. Most so far has been across steep hills ranging some 20km apart.
For more. See my blog:
Caminojoe.com
Spain is beautiful, your fellow pilgrims can become friends for life and the experience can be amazing. And I'm just a few days into it!
Bien 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
Buen camino vaquero!
 

Waka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some but not all, and other routes too.
Some very valid points, continue to enjoy.
 

Stellaluna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Coast to Coast (2015)
Frances (July 2016)
I'm six days into the Camino. Here's what I've learned so far;
1. The Pyrenees route is steep and hard. Especially if you're in your 60s-70s. If you are in your 20s, not so much. But if you are not in good physical condition with a backpack, it can be a tough go. Best to overnight at Orrison. The uphill is hard, but the downhill afterwards is a killer. And if the weather's bad or raining, the downhill can be downright treacherous. But if the weather is good, the views can be stunning.
2. There seems to be plenty of rooms available.
3. There are numerous very steep ascents and descents for several days after the Pryenees that the guidebooks seem to gloss over.
4. A lot of advice has been given about the kind of shoes to wear, but I've not seen anything about the kind of soles you should have. Read the spec sheet on the boot and be sure that the sole is good in wet conditions--many are not. You do not want boots with soles that are slippery--especially in those down hill descents. Just because it says Vibram doesn't mean anything--Vibram makes all types of soles. I have s pair of Merrill's with Vibram that I wouldn't wear on wet pavement to take out the trash--and I have a I pair of Merrill's with Vibram soles I'm wearing on the Camino now.
5. Wear thin liner socks under mid-weight to heavy Smartwool socks. The liner is the key to prevent blisters.
6. Be prepared: it's not a leisurely walk from village to village. Most so far has been across steep hills ranging some 20km apart.
For more. See my blog:
Caminojoe.com
Spain is beautiful, your fellow pilgrims can become friends for life and the experience can be amazing. And I'm just a few days into it!
Bien Camino!
I leave in 4 weeks. Your blog is inspiring!
 

Cathy K.

Member
Camino(s) past & future
March-mid April 2017 first time
I'm six days into the Camino. Here's what I've learned so far;
1. The Pyrenees route is steep and hard. Especially if you're in your 60s-70s. If you are in your 20s, not so much. But if you are not in good physical condition with a backpack, it can be a tough go. Best to overnight at Orrison. The uphill is hard, but the downhill afterwards is a killer. And if the weather's bad or raining, the downhill can be downright treacherous. But if the weather is good, the views can be stunning.
2. There seems to be plenty of rooms available.
3. There are numerous very steep ascents and descents for several days after the Pryenees that the guidebooks seem to gloss over.
4. A lot of advice has been given about the kind of shoes to wear, but I've not seen anything about the kind of soles you should have. Read the spec sheet on the boot and be sure that the sole is good in wet conditions--many are not. You do not want boots with soles that are slippery--especially in those down hill descents. Just because it says Vibram doesn't mean anything--Vibram makes all types of soles. I have s pair of Merrill's with Vibram that I wouldn't wear on wet pavement to take out the trash--and I have a I pair of Merrill's with Vibram soles I'm wearing on the Camino now.
5. Wear thin liner socks under mid-weight to heavy Smartwool socks. The liner is the key to prevent blisters.
6. Be prepared: it's not a leisurely walk from village to village. Most so far has been across steep hills ranging some 20km apart.
For more. See my blog:
Caminojoe.com
Spain is beautiful, your fellow pilgrims can become friends for life and the experience can be amazing. And I'm just a few days into it!
Bien Camino!
It was good point you maid out about going through the mountain.
I suspected that way and withdrew the route, and we decided only walk halfway from Leon on to the Santiago. Please! Keep posted.
Tentatively we will do the Camino mid Aprilto mid May of 2017,so we need all the info. we can get . This forum site is great.
Buen Camino.
Cathy K.
 

DanielH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2015 (SJPP to Burgos)
September 2016 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
May 2017 (Villafranca del Bierzo to Santiago de Compostela)
Enjoyed reading your blog CowboyJoe and the posts thus far of your journey. I'm looking forward to returning in September. Buen Camino!
 

Urban Trekker

Happy Trails
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino (2013)
Portuguese Camino (2014)
French Camino (2016)
Way of Saint Francis April 2017
I'm six days into the Camino. Here's what I've learned so far;
1. The Pyrenees route is steep and hard. Especially if you're in your 60s-70s. If you are in your 20s, not so much. But if you are not in good physical condition with a backpack, it can be a tough go. Best to overnight at Orrison. The uphill is hard, but the downhill afterwards is a killer. And if the weather's bad or raining, the downhill can be downright treacherous. But if the weather is good, the views can be stunning.
2. There seems to be plenty of rooms available.
3. There are numerous very steep ascents and descents for several days after the Pryenees that the guidebooks seem to gloss over.
4. A lot of advice has been given about the kind of shoes to wear, but I've not seen anything about the kind of soles you should have. Read the spec sheet on the boot and be sure that the sole is good in wet conditions--many are not. You do not want boots with soles that are slippery--especially in those down hill descents. Just because it says Vibram doesn't mean anything--Vibram makes all types of soles. I have s pair of Merrill's with Vibram that I wouldn't wear on wet pavement to take out the trash--and I have a I pair of Merrill's with Vibram soles I'm wearing on the Camino now.
5. Wear thin liner socks under mid-weight to heavy Smartwool socks. The liner is the key to prevent blisters.
6. Be prepared: it's not a leisurely walk from village to village. Most so far has been across steep hills ranging some 20km apart.
For more. See my blog:
Caminojoe.com
Spain is beautiful, your fellow pilgrims can become friends for life and the experience can be amazing. And I'm just a few days into it!
Bien Camino!
I was there in April. We were the first group over the Napoleon Route. We had great weather for days. Pilgrims 1 day behind us didn't have it so good. You have a great walk into, through, and out of Pamplona then a very steep climb up to the wind farm. Then a horrid 2 kilometers of a steep river rock covered trail that only gets marginally better. Walk carefully and if you have poles use them. They saved my butt more than once.
I have walked 2 other caminos and thought I knew what I was getting into. The French way is mentally and physically demanding. I'm 66 and thought I was ready for the Camino. It took 2 weeks before I quit hurting all over. I think my body just gave up complaining. It will get better and it will get worse. You just have to go with it. Buen Camino

Happy Trails
 

julia-t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015-17
Kumano Kodo March 2018
Camino Portuguese Valenca-SdC April 2018
Loving your blog... Will be checking in to your page every day for the updates.
Buen Camino.
 

MovingForward

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2016
Loved your blog and your can do attitude. I am nearing 70 and will be trekking the Camino starting 26th August. Not looking forward to the uphills and downhills but its all part of the rich experience :) Hope you continue to enjoy your journey :) Buen Camino :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
C Inglés June 2019
To do: C Primitivo June 202x :(
Thanks CowboyJoe.
Nice info, will keep following up your blog:)
I agree 100% about the vibram, I too have bought a pair of (JackWolfskin) boots and in wet conditions they are slippery.
Lessons learned too.
They will certainly not go on the Camino next year.
And yes same experience with goretex jackets. If you have one with armpit opening then you can regulate the heat, you are pumping is out.
Even goretex isn't goretex, different layers and different behavier.
I will take a poncho, one that goes over the backpack and under that a merino wool tshirt.
And layering when needed.
And don't forget to drink, sweating is loosing liquid.
Buen Camino!
 

Sue M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-Burgos(2012)Leon-Santiago(2013)Sarria- Santiago(Sept 2013),Frances (coach,2013),Le Puy-Conques(May 2014), parish pilgrimage organised for June 2015.
The man who lives under the stairs inthe albergue at Santo Domingo (!) and tends feet told me there are two kinds of blisters, the sort you get through friction and the sort you get by having sweaty feet. By the time I reached him my feet, in two pairs of socks and walking boots, were rotting. I went home from Burgos. When I returned to walk from Leon I walked in bare feet with walking sandals, and I reached Santiago without a single blister. You have to find out what suits you - I did, the hard way!
 

Dennis D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés - 2014
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2016
Francés - 2017
Francés - 2018
Francés - 2019
(2020 - ?)
Hola Joe,

The Pilgrim office just posted their statistics for May. Apparently almost 30 percent of the people finishing in Santiago and getting their Compostelas are over 60 years old. If you have made it this far, blister free and injury free, there is a very good chance that you will make it all the way. I finished my third one 10 days ago and I am 73 and not even a cowboy! The hardest part for me was all the mud and rain. Using poles on the downhill portions helped keep me safe. If your pack is over 20 pounds, you might want to start making decisions as to what you don't need and either give it away or send it ahead to Santiago.

Every day is a new adventure.

Buen Camino

Dennis D
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
There are numerous very steep ascents and descents for several days after the Pryenees
Advice given to me is do as I (am about to) say and not as I do.

Whether an ascent/descent is steep or no comes from your training. If you have included many, say, 700 metre ascents without stopping in your training then both your body and your mind will be able cope with what you will encounter.

A friend who walked from Saint Jean in 2011 and who was also a tramper in New Zealand said if I was acclimatised to the hills in my home region then I had nothing to worry about.

I noticed on the ascents (especially the Napoleon) nearly all walkers tried to maintain the same length of stride as they might on flatter terrain. The outcome was a lot of heavy breathing coupled with slower and slower progess coupled with many stops.

And, as @Dennis D says, every day is a new (big) adventure.

Kia kaha (be strong / brave)
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
Not looking forward to the uphills and downhills
Despite what I say above they are not easy. The purpose of including significant non-stop ascents in your training is not only to get body and mind used to the experience but also to provide a quick recovery so you can move on to the next phase of the journey more easily. And to enjoy the ascents and descents and the scenery or built environment or whatever as they happen.

Kia kaha

PS: I am into my 70's
 

CdnDreamer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (12, 15 & 18) San Salvador (18), Portuguese (19)
How people look at the mountains and hills on the Camino is similar to how we view the weather. I mentioned a heat wave of 75 degrees, and someone from Florida said that is a cold front to her. I trained on a road in Toronto - about an hour drive from my house. The huge hill I found was 84 metres high. I would walk up and down 5 times. You can't train on a 700 m ascent, if the landscape is flat!
 

Dutchwalk53

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2015 with son #1, CF 2016 alone, CF 2017 with son #2 and husband , CF Sept 2018 with daughter
How people look at the mountains and hills on the Camino is similar to how we view the weather. I mentioned a heat wave of 75 degrees, and someone from Florida said that is a cold front to her. I trained on a road in Toronto - about an hour drive from my house. The huge hill I found was 84 metres high. I would walk up and down 5 times. You can't train on a 700 m ascent, if the landscape is flat!
That was me....the one in Florida.....and no hills at all here to do some training on :( But I managed last year and so will next week when I go back. Just taking it slow!
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
You can't train on a 700 m ascent, if the landscape is flat!
And if you lived in Vancouver then no difficulty in finding some hills.

I agree with you, it is difficult. And without wanting to seem provocative / indifferent, it is not fair to say afterwards how difficult the hills are. And possibly put others off by saying so.

There are hills on just about every route in France and Spain just about every day. And in my view best to get match fit as possible before starting so as to make the most of the scenery etc rather than worrying about breathing or how far to the next stop.

My purpose was to put another perspective, and a way forward, before our readers.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
How people look at the mountains and hills on the Camino is similar to how we view the weather. I mentioned a heat wave of 75 degrees, and someone from Florida said that is a cold front to her. I trained on a road in Toronto - about an hour drive from my house. The huge hill I found was 84 metres high. I would walk up and down 5 times. You can't train on a 700 m ascent, if the landscape is flat!
I was raised in Scotland within sight of hills which rose from near sea level to about 600m in a sharp escarpment. The sort of landscape I enjoy. Last year I walked from Canterbury to Rome. For much of the way through France I walked along canal towpaths which are obviously almost entirely flat. After a couple of weeks of this I came across a lock on one of the larger canals which had a rise/fall of something like 15 metres. As I approached it from the lower side and looked up at the lock gates I felt as if I had suddenly reached the Alps :) Felt like quite an effort to walk up to the upper pound. It is surprising how quickly we grow used to a particular type of terrain.
 

Susan B Johnson

PuraVida
Camino(s) past & future
June (2016)
I'm six days into the Camino. Here's what I've learned so far;
1. The Pyrenees route is steep and hard. Especially if you're in your 60s-70s. If you are in your 20s, not so much. But if you are not in good physical condition with a backpack, it can be a tough go. Best to overnight at Orrison. The uphill is hard, but the downhill afterwards is a killer. And if the weather's bad or raining, the downhill can be downright treacherous. But if the weather is good, the views can be stunning.
2. There seems to be plenty of rooms available.
3. There are numerous very steep ascents and descents for several days after the Pryenees that the guidebooks seem to gloss over.
4. A lot of advice has been given about the kind of shoes to wear, but I've not seen anything about the kind of soles you should have. Read the spec sheet on the boot and be sure that the sole is good in wet conditions--many are not. You do not want boots with soles that are slippery--especially in those down hill descents. Just because it says Vibram doesn't mean anything--Vibram makes all types of soles. I have s pair of Merrill's with Vibram that I wouldn't wear on wet pavement to take out the trash--and I have a I pair of Merrill's with Vibram soles I'm wearing on the Camino now.
5. Wear thin liner socks under mid-weight to heavy Smartwool socks. The liner is the key to prevent blisters.
6. Be prepared: it's not a leisurely walk from village to village. Most so far has been across steep hills ranging some 20km apart.
For more. See my blog:
Caminojoe.com
Spain is beautiful, your fellow pilgrims can become friends for life and the experience can be amazing. And I'm just a few days into it!
Bien Camino!

I'm allergic to wool. Do you have any other suggestions for socks to wear over the liners?
 

Carmen L. Padron

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2016
For more. See my blog:
Caminojoe.com
Spain is beautiful, your fellow pilgrims can become friends for life and the experience can be amazing. And I'm just a few days into it!
Bien Camino![/QUOTE]
What is your expected arrival day to Santiago?
I will be walking with my 16 years old son from Sarria to Santiago starting on June 26 ,we have 6 days to walk the 115 km. God willing! I have had some issues in my training (toes, strained muscle on my thigh) and have not been able to walk 10 miles yet which has me worry. I am enjoying your blog and would love to run into you in the Camino! God Bless and Buen Camino
From Fl. USA
 

Julie shead

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May (2015) may (2016)
Thanks CowboyJoe.
Nice info, will keep following up your blog:)
I agree 100% about the vibram, I too have bought a pair of (JackWolfskin) boots and in wet conditions they are slippery.
Lessons learned too.
They will certainly not go on the Camino next year.
And yes same experience with goretex jackets. If you have one with armpit opening then you can regulate the heat, you are pumping is out.
Even goretex isn't goretex, different layers and different behavier.
I will take a poncho, one that goes over the backpack and under that a merino wool tshirt.
And layering when needed.
And don't forget to drink, sweating is loosing liquid.
Buen Camino!
Just finished the camino and instead of poncho which I found to be a pain in the windy weather I would recommend water proof jacket and trousers. Buen camino.irish Julie
 

Tony Bobcat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017
I'm six days into the Camino. Here's what I've learned so far;
1. The Pyrenees route is steep and hard. Especially if you're in your 60s-70s. If you are in your 20s, not so much. But if you are not in good physical condition with a backpack, it can be a tough go. Best to overnight at Orrison. The uphill is hard, but the downhill afterwards is a killer. And if the weather's bad or raining, the downhill can be downright treacherous. But if the weather is good, the views can be stunning.
2. There seems to be plenty of rooms available.
3. There are numerous very steep ascents and descents for several days after the Pryenees that the guidebooks seem to gloss over.
4. A lot of advice has been given about the kind of shoes to wear, but I've not seen anything about the kind of soles you should have. Read the spec sheet on the boot and be sure that the sole is good in wet conditions--many are not. You do not want boots with soles that are slippery--especially in those down hill descents. Just because it says Vibram doesn't mean anything--Vibram makes all types of soles. I have s pair of Merrill's with Vibram that I wouldn't wear on wet pavement to take out the trash--and I have a I pair of Merrill's with Vibram soles I'm wearing on the Camino now.
5. Wear thin liner socks under mid-weight to heavy Smartwool socks. The liner is the key to prevent blisters.
6. Be prepared: it's not a leisurely walk from village to village. Most so far has been across steep hills ranging some 20km apart.
For more. See my blog:
Caminojoe.com
Spain is beautiful, your fellow pilgrims can become friends for life and the experience can be amazing. And I'm just a few days into it!
Bien Camino!
Hi joe Thanks for your great advise,say it how it is.
Looking forward to get move advise through out your journey.
Buen Camino Mate
 

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