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What was your meltdown point?

2020 Camino Guides

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
In another thread Dave posted this:
The Meltdown symptoms can range from a mild exasperation with a prolonged sit-down to gather thoughts.
Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become a moving target?
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Hiking 20 k up the 1060 meter Ibaneta pass via the Valcarlos route the first time in 2004 at 65 to the monastery at Roncevalles was one of the most difficult days on the Camino and certainly the most physically exhausting day of my adult life then to date. I was pooped! Although I had hiked throughout the summer in preparation for the trip, nothing had prepared me for such an effort. Beneath a deep blue sky and brilliant sun I gasped and ached while my pack weighed like bricks.

After hiking about 5 hours I finally staggered over the pass into a picnic area filled with a munching mob; they had arrived by bus and cars! Never will I forget the look that one très correct French woman drinking champagne from a crystal flute, no plastic for her, gave me as I trudged past exhausted! ET would have been better received. A kindly couple from Scotland offered me the best ever cup of tea from their thermos. Refreshed I continued on to the monastery, happy that the path was now slightly downhill....Eventually I made it to Santiago walking all the way.

On that first Camino I learned the hard way that this is NOT a walk in the park! For the next nine times what mattered most was to DO IT!
 
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C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Is a Camino Meltdown part of the mythology, like a Camino Family?

I certainly get cranky, upset, angry, fed up at times, on or off the camino. I often have a prolonged sit down to gather thoughts. 🤔

But I don't do meltdowns! 😈😨🤬😎
 

Roland49

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2019 July
I had a meltdown after 38km from Villafranca Montes de Oca to Burgos @ 38°C.
I walked around in Burgos like a Zombie. The walk on this day was too long, too hot and too exhausting.
The only nice things on this day were the visit of the cathedral and the communal dinner in the albergue "Emaús".
 
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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
Anything vaguely resembling a melt-down for me is usually in my head and I don’t have the luxury of letting it be prolonged. Perhaps walking - and doing life - with kids requires you to be resilient.
I have had some hard days, but they tend to make me feel strong. And I have been bursting with pride watching my kids struggle without complaint - an unexpected 41km day on the Via de la Plata when we had already seen five days straight of non-stop rain springs to mind. Two of the kids were hobbling by the last 7 or 8km but they insisted on walking. I saw a tear roll down the cheek of my youngest - but she did not grizzle. I felt deep gratitude watching the kids help each other.
(I also got frustrated when they got snitchy with each other on days that should have been delightful!!)
I presume (perhaps mistakenly) that people who are prone to meltdowns in “normal life” may be more inclined to experience them on the Camino....and people who revel in challenge might be less likely to melt????
 

roving_rufus

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013-2015) Camino Portugues from Lisbon (2017-2019) Via Francigena (2018-??)
I think it only happened once for me - on the Camino Portugues heading from Tomar to Alvaiazere - it was over 30km day with no accomodation between (there is actually an albergue close to were I melted down now!) I fell, hurt my ankle - but it slowed me way down and got to the point I couldn;t walk on it any more. I reached a little village and sat in the shade of a bus shelter - cried. I knew that walking on was going to be stupid and stubborn but I didn't want to miss 7km. I got myself settled and found a large scale bakery/factory that was opposite - went hobbling in and they helped me ring a taxi. After a rest day, I did manage a few days hobbling but the ankle ultimately forced me to break my camino earlier than I intended in Coimbra (rather than making it to Porto). Heat, pain and exhaustion got me to that place of sitting down and crying before I could formulate a plan!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Never will I forget the look that one très correct French woman drinking champagne from a crystal flute, no plastic for her, gave me as I trudged past exhausted!
What an image.
And what snobbery!
I was much luckier, arriving at that same spot to meet a Dutch couple who had stopped their mobile home there to enjoy the view for a little while. They had been visiting friends in Portugal and offered me oranges sprinkled with cinnamon...and being Dutch...coffee. Their joyful graciousness was carried me all the way down to Roncesvalles very happily!
I certainly get cranky, upset, angry, fed up at times, on or off the camino. I often have a prolonged sit down to gather thoughts. 🤔
But I don't do meltdowns
Maybe you're naturally resilient and positive?

I presume (perhaps mistakenly) that people who are prone to meltdowns in “normal life” may be more inclined to experience them on the Camino....and people who revel in challenge might be less likely to melt????
Hmmm. Good question, @Kiwi-family. What you say makes a lot of sense.
And I can think of a third option - people who surpress their reactivity at home may end up having little surprises along the way, when there just isn't the energy for that. To control reactions takes a ton of energy and on the camino, energy can be in short supply!
And then also there are times when the heart and mind are pushed by injury or circumstance past their normal limits, like @roving_rufus ' experience.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I have never had a meltdown nor come close to one. I am not always positive in "real life", but I am so thrilled to be walking the caminos that even times of hardship are met with an "I can do this".
However...last spring on the Rota Vicentina Fisherman's Trail in Portugal, it was a few days of nonstop walking in 3-4 inches of deep sand. It was very difficult and as I trudged on a fear that it was never going to end began to overtake my joy. In spite of the beauty of the many coves down below from the cliffs I was walking on, I became despondent and suppose this could be considered almost a meltdown in my head. Thankfully much of the sand "disappeared" for stretches of time and all was well again.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
I typically hit the proverbial wall when the confluence of joint pain, rain, and mud hits me at the same time on the same day. This totally saps my will to proceed. It makes be depressed and irritable, not to mention not having fun any longer. At that moment, I become just like @SYates above. I want to go into the fetal position and give it up...

My standard response is to make it to the next cafe, and summon a taxi to carry me to that days' destination. It is usually only 6 - 8 km. When this happened at Sarria in 2016, that meant the end of the that year's Camino, per se. I took the bus into Santiago, via Lugo.

On the bright side, getting to Santiago five-days earlier meant that the Dutch folks running the Huiskamer, got most all their new, flat-packed Ikea furniture assembled with my assistance. I had time. They bought the tools, and two of us set to it and got it done.

S*&t happens folks! The wise pilgrim (no pun intended Michael) acknowledges that while they are part of something bigger than they are (the Camino writ large) sometimes, the big dog wins.

I have always believed that, on Camino, there are days to be brave and power through the muck and mire, and days to be smart and accept that you are but a grain of sand on the "Camino beach."

I am reminded of the old saw about making lemonade when life gives you lemons... Or, put another way: "assess, adapt, and overcome."

Hope this helps.
 

Connie Canada

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francais,Portuguese,Anglais,Finnisterre/Muxia, Francigena, Arrogonese, Abbot Pfanner Trappist Trail
For me it was between Fisterre and Muxia on the old path which was vaguely marked. I'd gone off alone at dawn from the hostel and by 11 I had not seen a marker in an hour, and my shin splints and blisters appeared in full bloom after lying dormant for a few days. I had a really creepy encounter with a guy dressed in old St. James Pilgrim cape, hat and beard just before the only path into Lira. I was behind him and when I went around the corner where you can see the path along the sea - no one was there! Which meant he was hiding in the bracken, or had somehow got behind me or . . . ??? I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder and into the forest, ended up lost and in Merexo, and pathetically limping into the Muxia hostel only to find I didn't have a stamp from the night before - the hostel worker accepted a river crossing pic from my camera as proof of travel. If I could have airlifted out any time that day, I would have done it!
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
The first time I walked from El Acebo to Molinaseco... I called it my two hours of horrible. I don't like heights and there were a few times when we were walking quite close to the edge (not scary for most but for me it was terrifying) I also don't like steep downhill. It was like a perfect storm of all the things I dislike... and it had been raining and it was damp and slippery. After an hour or so i just wanted to sit down on the path and cry. I didn't cry but I wanted to. :oops:

The last time I walked that section my friend fell and we had to take a taxi to Molinaseco... I'm not glad she fell but I was pleased to be in that taxi.

My dear friend @nidarosa says that this section is one of her favourites... I think she's weird 😂

p.s. a crazy high bridge on the Via de la Plata came a close second... and the field of bulls... and the dogs... this is becoming quite a list 😂
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
For me it was between Fisterre and Muxia on the old path which was vaguely marked. I'd gone off alone at dawn from the hostel and by 11 I had not seen a marker in an hour, and my shin splints and blisters appeared in full bloom after lying dormant for a few days. I had a really creepy encounter with a guy dressed in old St. James Pilgrim cape, hat and beard just before the only path into Lira. I was behind him and when I went around the corner where you can see the path along the sea - no one was there! Which meant he was hiding in the bracken, or had somehow got behind me or . . . ??? I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder and into the forest, ended up lost and in Merexo, and pathetically limping into the Muxia hostel only to find I didn't have a stamp from the night before - the hostel worker accepted a river crossing pic from my camera as proof of travel. If I could have airlifted out any time that day, I would have done it!
I have walked that stretch twice, but in the opposite direction from Muxia to Finesterre. I always spend the night in Lires, which helps for a more relaxed ending...I love walking out to their beach!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
The first time I walked from El Acebo to Molinaseco... I called it my two hours of horrible. I don't like heights and there were a few times when we were walking quite close to the edge (not scary for most but for me it was terrifying) I also don't like steep downhill. It was like a perfect storm of all the things I dislike... and it had been raining and it was damp and slippery. After an hour or so i just wanted to sit down on the path and cry. I didn't cry but I wanted to. :oops:

The last time I walked that section my friend fell and we had to take a taxi to Molinaseco... I'm not glad she fell but I was pleased to be in that taxi.

My dear friend @nidarosa says that this section is one of her favourites... I think she's weird 😂

p.s. a crazy high bridge on the Via de la Plata came a close second... and the field of bulls... and the dogs... this is becoming quite a list 😂
I must be weird, too😀, because I absolutely love that stretch...one of my very favorites! It's mostly a true path, much of it on bluestone slate with some gorgeous views, and I always prefer the downhills...it was a win win for me both times I walked it!
 

celinehenriette

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Zwolle - Rome 2013
Jacobsweg Austria 2018
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Portugues 2018
Finisterre 2018
The day after entering Switzerland on the Via Francigena I walked in thick mist for hours. I could only see about 5 metres and only heard cow bells. I don't know what happend, but I started crying like a 5 year old and could not stop myself. The weather didn't help also, it had been raining non stop, soaking everything I had on me. I kept on crying for two days. I made a plan to get myself home when I reached Lausanne. But the minute I entered Lausanne, I suddenly felt so happy and light! Even though nothing had changed. Still raining, stil misty.
I did not go home, but just kept on walking. Some of my best days came after that, crossing the Alpes in the most glorious weather.
Even now I if I hear cow bells, the remind me of those horrible days.
 

frbobs

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2014)
Camino Portugues-(2017)
Camino Madrid (August 2019)
Wouldn't call it a meltdown as such, but had an experience in Puente la Reina. Both my feet were already damaged, the left was pretty raw. In the Albergue the night before, I fell asleep thinking that I had no business being here, I didn't prepare enough, and who did I think I was. I was starting to even doubt my worth, and figured I wouldn't make it to Santiago. I got up and wrapped my feet, the sun was coming up when I got to the bridge. I must have been meditating on my angst from the night before, and I heard in my head, "We suddenly realized that God was doing for us what we could not do for ourselves". As clear as a person speaking next to me. I KNEW with my entire being that I would be alright. I'm not someone who cries, not proud of that or ashamed either, it just is. Standing on a 12th century bridge, with the sun coming up, it all hit me and water just started pouring out of my eyes. I didn't even know what happening and it just kept pouring out. Eventually, I started to tremble and sobbed uncontrollably. Don't know how long it lasted, doesn't matter. The next 30 days were some of the best of my life. I did get to Santiago. La Pax, Bob
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
The first time I walked from El Acebo to Molinaseco... I called it my two hours of horrible. I don't like heights and there were a few times when we were walking quite close to the edge (not scary for most but for me it was terrifying) I also don't like steep downhill. It was like a perfect storm of all the things I dislike... and it had been raining and it was damp and slippery. After an hour or so i just wanted to sit down on the path and cry. I didn't cry but I wanted to. :oops:

The last time I walked that section my friend fell and we had to take a taxi to Molinaseco... I'm not glad she fell but I was pleased to be in that taxi.

My dear friend @nidarosa says that this section is one of her favourites... I think she's weird 😂

p.s. a crazy high bridge on the Via de la Plata came a close second... and the field of bulls... and the dogs... this is becoming quite a list 😂
Strangely enough, after a bad experience at the Cruz de Ferro, this section was one of the loveliest and memorable days of my 2012 Camino.
 

Jamieb

New Member
I had a "moment" after leaving Granon. Woke up that morning so lonely, missing my family terribly, just not in a good headspace. Cried off/on pretty much the whole day when walking, cried whenever anyone asked how I was doing - just a bad day. I am also not one to cry and show to much of those emotions. Once I arrived at Belarado - decided to take a bus to Burgos and rest a few days - get my head together, did exactly that and started walking again and was fine the remainder of the way to Santiago.
 

elleley

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (16); Leon-Sarria, Ourense-SdC (17), Burgos-Leon (17), Porto-SdC (18), SalvadorPrimitivo(19)
Thank you for bringing this topic up.
My meltdown happened in the Parador in Leon.
Understand, I had been staying in donativo and municipal albergues from SJPP up until that point. Somewhere around Belorado I started to feel pain in my right knee that turned into full blown tendonitis and I was walking on shin splints as well. I was literally picking up one foot at a time(very consciously) painfully making my Way very slowly. I could not have made it without my sticks to support me. One of my "camino family" members is a physician and she knew the kind of pain I had been walking with and in Boadilla, I think, she said to me, " I have a suite reserved at the Leon Parador and would like to offer for you to stay with me there." At first I said no, as it was out of my imagination to stay in a place like that as a pilgrim and then I finally accepted with grace. So, many days later, I hobbled in extreme pain to the Parador on a Sunday. The place was filled with Spanish families celebrating baptisms and were dressed to the nines. I felt them staring at me, this disheveled pilgrim who could barely walk. While waiting for her, I found a spot to sit away from the crowd. As I waited, my meltdown began. I realized I could not continue walking with this pain. I had walked every step and carried my pack as I had expected I would. There it was...my expectations. Face to face with my expectations and my inability to meet them was just too much. It started with a whimper and turned into great sobs that took up all the tissues I was carrying. How could I fail so badly? I had prepared meticulously for many months before my pilgrimage and thought I had the right shoes, pack and supplies to get me all the way to Compostela. All this came crashing down in this moment and I melted into a dusty puddle of tears in a corner of the Parador lobby. And then it happened. I felt my better angels smack me in the face. Forget all those expectations that burdened you as you walked and take care of yourself! Anyway, I ended up taking at least 4 decadent luxurious bubble baths in that Parador and stayed until they kicked me out the next day. I found a beautiful Spanish family to stay with for 5 days in Leon while I rested, convalesced and let go of my unrealistic expectations. This lovely young family cared for me, nurturing me back to the place where I could continue walking without that knife sharp pain in my knee. I was humbled and made a plan. I took the train over the mountains from Leon to Sarria and then walked into Santiago, once again, meeting up with my camino family members. I was still dealing with some "guilt" and "shame" for not walking every step as well as sadness for missing that section of the Frances. This motivated me to return the following year to walk from Leon to Santiago to cover the section I had missed. Being in Leon on my second Camino feeling strong and healthy allowed me to heal some of those leftover emotional wounds.
I will never forget that meltdown moment in the Parador, as it shifted something big in me...blowing my expectations to bits. Humility. I am forever grateful. I made my fifth pilgrimage this past September and continue to grow emotionally and spiritually with every step I take on these ancient roads.
Humbly yours
Ultreia! elle
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances and Invierno (2019)
Camino Frances (2021)
In another thread Dave posted this:

Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become a moving target?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances and Invierno (2019)
Camino Frances (2021)
This year my melodien was When I had a sprained muscle in the left side of my “little” but 😊 Walking was extremely painfully and I didn’t get much sleep. My mood was terrible and in Burgos I gave up.
I have only crossed the Pyrenees twice, both times the weather has been terrible and both times I have been injured. I don’t think the Pyrenees likes me 😞
But I love the Camino and I will be back.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Thank you for bringing this topic up.
My meltdown happened in the Parador in Leon.
Understand, I had been staying in donativo and municipal albergues from SJPP up until that point. Somewhere around Belorado I started to feel pain in my right knee that turned into full blown tendonitis and I was walking on shin splints as well. I was literally picking up one foot at a time(very consciously) painfully making my Way very slowly. I could not have made it without my sticks to support me. One of my "camino family" members is a physician and she knew the kind of pain I had been walking with and in Boadilla, I think, she said to me, " I have a suite reserved at the Leon Parador and would like to offer for you to stay with me there." At first I said no, as it was out of my imagination to stay in a place like that as a pilgrim and then I finally accepted with grace. So, many days later, I hobbled in extreme pain to the Parador on a Sunday. The place was filled with Spanish families celebrating baptisms and were dressed to the nines. I felt them staring at me, this disheveled pilgrim who could barely walk. While waiting for her, I found a spot to sit away from the crowd. As I waited, my meltdown began. I realized I could not continue walking with this pain. I had walked every step and carried my pack as I had expected I would. There it was...my expectations. Face to face with my expectations and my inability to meet them was just too much. It started with a whimper and turned into great sobs that took up all the tissues I was carrying. How could I fail so badly? I had prepared meticulously for many months before my pilgrimage and thought I had the right shoes, pack and supplies to get me all the way to Compostela. All this came crashing down in this moment and I melted into a dusty puddle of tears in a corner of the Parador lobby. And then it happened. I felt my better angels smack me in the face. Forget all those expectations that burdened you as you walked and take care of yourself! Anyway, I ended up taking at least 4 decadent luxurious bubble baths in that Parador and stayed until they kicked me out the next day. I found a beautiful Spanish family to stay with for 5 days in Leon while I rested, convalesced and let go of my unrealistic expectations. This lovely young family cared for me, nurturing me back to the place where I could continue walking without that knife sharp pain in my knee. I was humbled and made a plan. I took the train over the mountains from Leon to Sarria and then walked into Santiago, once again, meeting up with my camino family members. I was still dealing with some "guilt" and "shame" for not walking every step as well as sadness for missing that section of the Frances. This motivated me to return the following year to walk from Leon to Santiago to cover the section I had missed. Being in Leon on my second Camino feeling strong and healthy allowed me to heal some of those leftover emotional wounds.
I will never forget that meltdown moment in the Parador, as it shifted something big in me...blowing my expectations to bits. Humility. I am forever grateful. I made my fifth pilgrimage this past September and continue to grow emotionally and spiritually with every step I take on these ancient roads.
Humbly yours
Ultreia! elle
Some say there are no such things as Camino Angels! Your story proves different!
👼👼
 

MichaelF4

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portuguese Coastal 2017
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Frances, Camino Invierno 2019
Not sure if the word meltdown applies but this year on the Vezelay route about a week or so into what would be a very long Camino I started to experience intense dizziness and balance problems. I almost fell. It scared the bleep out of me. My walking friend and I were in the middle of nowhere without even cell coverage. It turned out to be vestibular induced vertigo from an irritated ear from pushing ear plugs deep into my ears and exhaustion from lack of sleep and jet lag. The symptoms stayed more or less throughout a 51 day walk but it became more manageable and once I understood what was inducing the symptoms.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
I don’t think I have had a meltdown as such, but I sure have had days when I thought the going was a bit rough: Very long walking days dragging my heavy feet during the last hours, days limping with pain from tendonitis, days walking in torrential rain and cold or excessive heat, moments when I thought I would never reach that hilltop. When that happens a thought always pops up in my mind: I am here because I want to be here, because I want to experience whatever this walk is going to give me, so I will accept it, even enjoy it –up to a certain point I guess, but that point is still to be found… :)
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I have walked the Frances and the Portugues, multiple times. I have never had a meltdown or hit a wall. How could I? I am on holiday. If anything about walking the Camino affected me so much that I was on the verge of a meltdown, I would simply go home, or say of it was physical, just take a couple days off, bus ahead a wee bit and carry on. Come to think of it, I can honestly say I never had an actual "bad day" whilst walking the Camino. Sure, knees and feet get sore. A minor blizzard I found myself in was a bit hairy. A few times there was frustration when the first albergues I went to were completo and I had to keep looking, and even just shelled out for a private room or just kept walking to the next town. All those are simply inconveniences. Not life or death. Nothing worth getting dramatic over and like I said, you can always just egress and go home or somewhere else. It is not a death march.
 

Isca-camigo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Various ones.
On my 1st Camino, I just had a really bad day on the section between Aviles and Muros de Nalon on the Norte., I was slightly feverish and and my stomach had been upset for a couple of days. + It was a red hot day. I had got lost twice, the 2nd time I took a little time out and only realised after restarting and walking on 2km that I had left my poles back at the stopping place, so had to go back. When I got back to the poles I just let the frustration out in tears, no wailing just tears, the frustration was also partly about not being on schedule to to get to SDC for the holy day in 2010, and also fear that I wasn't up to completing or finishing the Camino, all the internal fears and worries came out. It was the best thing that could have happened to me, I felt refreshed after the blub and kinda arose out of it with an attitude of "oh well" and shrug to anything that came after it in the next few days. I didn't make SDC for the holy day but had an incredibly special day at the CSJ place in Miraz.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
My most serious Camino-related meltdown happened on my second Camino in 2013.

The year before my dad passed away quite unexpectedly , leaving me to deal ( as an only child ) with taking care of mum and handling lots of paperwork.
So when those hectic months were over I thought it would be a good idea to walk the Camino del Ebro and a part of the Frances.
Aside from one other pilgrim on the del Ebro I did not meet anyone else ( so a good thing I could engage in some talks with locals ).
So I bussed and continued on the Frances.
Maybe I expected the same good vibes as on my first Camino the year before but I only met loud pilgrims in big groups ( drinking excessively ).
There was one other female pilgrim whom I had a good connection with and when it worked out we shared a private room to avoid the loud group ( they always seemed to stop where we stopped).
In terms of physical issues it was the easiest Camino of all.

But my emotions ran away with me. Tiredness and grief from the year before combined with my overreaction to the loud fellow pilgrims were the reasons I had a good meltdown in Rabe de las Calzadas.
It was a Sunday and I entered the church for some quiet contemplation only to find the local choir in full rehearsal for Mass later.
That was when I started crying and sobbing! Uncontrollably.
I will never forget how one of the ladies of the choir came over to me and quietly sat next to me and patted my back.
Just a human being making connection with another human being.
It was of an intensity and generosity I will never forget.

I continued walking , feeling much more at ease with the situation but in Carrion de los Condes I decided to stop and I had some regular holiday time before heading home.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
My most serious Camino-related meltdown happened on my second Camino in 2012.

The year before my dad passed away quite unexpectedly , leaving me to deal ( as an only child ) with taking care of mum and handling lots of paperwork.
So when those hectic months were over I thought it would be a good idea to walk the Camino del Ebro and a part of the Frances.
Aside from one other pilgrim on the del Ebro I did not meet anyone else ( so a good thing I could engage in some talks with locals ).
So I bussed and continued on the Frances.
Maybe I expected the same good vibes as on my first Camino the year before but I only met loud pilgrims in big groups ( drinking excessively ).
There was one other female pilgrim whom I had a good connection with and when it worked out we shared a private room to avoid the loud group ( they always seemed to stop where we stopped).
In terms of physical issues it was the easiest Camino of all.

But my emotions ran away with me. Tiredness and grief from the year before combined with my overreaction to the loud fellow pilgrims were the reasons I had a good meltdown in Rabe de las Calzadas.
It was a Sunday and I entered the church for some quiet contemplation only to find the local choir in full rehearsal for Mass later.
That was when I started crying and sobbing! Uncontrollably.
I will never forget how one of the ladies of the choir came over to me and quietly sat next to me and patted my back.
Just a human being making connection with another human being.
It was of an intensity and generosity I will never forget.

I continued walking , feeling much more at ease with the situation but in Carrion de los Condes I decided to stop and I had some regular holiday time before heading home.
Thanks, Sabine, for sharing such a personal story. I lost both my parents ten days apart and although I have siblings, the majority of their care and paperwork was left in my hands, not to mention I truly felt like an orphan. Had I known about the camino at that time I probably would have hightailed it to Spain...just saying.
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012-2018 Frances, Norte, Salvador, Aragones, Portuguese, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakibspaad.
May 2015. Having walked from Somport to Leon, then on to Oviedo (on the Salvador), my meltdown happened on the second day of the Primitivo, leaving Escamplero. There was a mean looking dog obstructing the path, I then decided to contuinue on the main road, but after 10 minutes returned to the path to try again. Unfortunately the dog was still there. I can normally deal with my fear of dogs, but this time I could not, and suddenly I just felt so fed up with the Camino and started questioning the whole point of continuing to Santiago. And so I just decided to walk back to Oviedo and return home. To this day, I still can not grasp the panic and lack of purpose I felt. To complete the story. A few days after coming home, my father suddenly died. Still feel very grateful I was able to be there with him. Had it not been for the dog, I would not have been there (but would have been wandering on the Primitivo instead). So I guess meltdowns happen for a reason ...
 
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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
On further reflection.....Davenugg’s original assertion was that everyone has a Meltdown Point. This may well be true and those of us who have not yet encountered that moment perhaps have something to be grateful for - something we weren’t even aware of.
Which is not to say meltdowns are bad - if we do experience one, it might be the significant turning point that they appear to be for many.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
May 2015. Having walked from Somport to Leon, then on to Oviedo (on the Salvador), my meltdown happened on the second day of the Primitivo, leaving Escamplero. There was a mean looking dog obstructing the path, I then decided to contuinue on the main road, but after 10 minutes returned to the path to try again. Unfortunately the dog was still there. I can normally deal with my fear of dogs, but this time I could not, and suddenly I just felt so fed up with the Camino and started questioning the whole point of continuing to Santiago. And so I just decided to walk back to Oviedo and return home. To this day, I still can not grasp the panic and lack of purpose I felt. To complete the story. A few days after coming home, my father suddenly died. Still feel very grateful I was able to be there with him. Had it not been for the dog, I would not have been there (but would have been wandering on the Primitivo instead). So I guess meltdowns happen for a reason ...
Thankfully, this one rather negative experience didn't set you back permanently.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
On further reflection.....Davenugg’s original assertion was that everyone has a Meltdown Point. This may well be true and those of us who have not yet encountered that moment perhaps have something to be grateful for - something we weren’t even aware of.
Which is not to say meltdowns are bad - if we do experience one, it might be the significant turning point that they appear to be for many.
If everyone has a meltdown point I haven't been to that point yet. I'm with @RJM . Even on difficult days on the Camino I'm still happy that I'm on the Camino. And I always know that my next day will bring me new vistas and people to meet.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
If everyone has a meltdown point I haven't been to that point yet. I'm with @RJM . Even on difficult days on the Camino I'm still happy that I'm on the Camino. And I always know that my next day will bring me new vistas and people to meet.
Amen!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I don't do "meltdowns" on camino, at least, not so far, but I had some difficult days on my recent Camino Invierno. The endless rain made my arthritis pain worse and there was one day when I thought that I wasn't going to be able to finish the pilgrimage. I just kept on walking, with a few days off, through that day and worse days to follow, until I arrived in Santiago (in the rain). I suspect that a meltdown is a message to oneself that one is asignificantly overdoing something and should be paying more attention to self-care. My days off may have made the difference between finishing my camino and getting pneumonia.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
If everyone has a meltdown point I haven't been to that point yet. I'm with @RJM . Even on difficult days on the Camino I'm still happy that I'm on the Camino. And I always know that my next day will bring me new vistas and people to meet.
Me too...
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
In another thread Dave posted this:

Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become a moving target?
Cant say as how I ever had one. Closest maybe was the morning walking out of Logroño. I just felt so lethargic. My son kept telling me about this little café by a lake but the long flat trail was really grating on my nerves. Got to the lake and settled down in the sun for a café con leche. A Dutch friend said it was so pleasant there that we should have a second coffee. Then off we went and the morning walk out of town was forgotten.
 

pelerine

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte 10, Primitivo 13, Plata 14+15, Salvador 16, Torres 17, Portugues 18, Mozarabe 19
A few times there was frustration when the first albergues I went to were completo and I had to keep looking, and even just shelled out for a private room or just kept walking to the next town. All those are simply inconveniences
This is easy to say, but if you have not got the strength left to walk a few more km to the next town because there was only one albergue and it was completo and there were no private rooms to be had. And the next town is miles away.....

By the way I have never had a meltdown, but can easily imagine one on the caminos I have walked. Been lucky! Have not yet walked the CF.....
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
This is easy to say, but if you have not got the strength left to walk a few more km to the next town because there was only one albergue and it was completo and there were no private rooms to be had. And the next town is miles away.....

By the way I have never had a meltdown, but can easily imagine one on the caminos I have walked. Been lucky! Have not yet walked the CF.....
That is why I recommend carrying a ground pad. It gives you the confidence and piece of mind knowing that if the unlikely situation occurs that you do not find accommodation you can simply sleep on the ground. In a breezeway. In the front of a church. Sleeping outside or semi outside is an inconvenience, hardly worthy of having a meltdown over. Many pilgrims do it anyway out of choice.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
That is why I recommend carrying a ground pad. It gives you the confidence and piece of mind knowing that if the unlikely situation occurs that you do not find accommodation you can simply sleep on the ground. In a breezeway. In the front of a church. Sleeping outside or semi outside is an inconvenience, hardly worthy of having a meltdown over. Many pilgrims do it anyway out of choice.
I carry a credit card, so I can sleep in a hotel if necessary. 😉
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I carry a credit card, so I can sleep in a hotel if necessary. 😉
lol...well there is that too
but...I do recall on a couple of occasions even all the hotels/pension etc being completo as well and I had to move on down the Camino, but the option to sleep on my ground pad was always there
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
VNwalking, I am loving this thread. It's interesting to read stories of the hard experiences some of our forum members have gone through while walking the camino. Some have had to abandon their dream early, either from emotional or physical issues, but many have returned to continue on at a later date...It's encouraging to read that they did!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
It's amazing how many replies this has evoked, and how varied they are! Thank you, everyone.

Which is not to say meltdowns are bad - if we do experience one, it might be the significant turning point that they appear to be for many.
I cannot agree more. 'Meltdown' is such a pejorative word, but really it's just where we go past the current edge of what we are able to bear without losing inner balance. Some people express that and some don't. In order to strengthen resilience, inevitably we have to go over that edge, but then regain a deeper balance.

For sure!! I have ample evidence! But that's a whole new LONG paragraph
Please. 🙏 ;)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
VNwalking, I am loving this thread. It's interesting to read stories of the hard experiences some of our forum members have gone through while walking the camino.
We posted at the same time...thanks, Chris!
Yes, me too. Our collective courage is so inspiring.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I cannot agree more. 'Meltdown' is such a pejorative word, but really it's just where we go past the current edge of what we are able to bear without losing inner balanced. Some people express that and some don't. In order to strengthen resilience, inevitably we have to go over that edge, but then regain a deeper balance.
You have a wonderful "way with words"...just saying.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
This thread has some really great posts for thought. Let me re-post how I defined 'Meltdown' within the thread I started about the Camino Ingles.

"The Meltdown symptoms can range from a mild exasperation with a prolonged sit-down to gather thoughts, to a full-blown crumbling into a gooey mass of sobbing and surrender, leading to bailing out and heading for home. Sometimes the Meltdown is primarily psychological in origin, and sometimes it is primarily physical. There is usually a mixture of both components."

'Meltdown', as I used the term has a wide variation of causes and symptoms, but I did not use the term to mean a singular, one-size-fits-all bad thing. Perhaps a better word could have been chosen. :)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Thank you Dave. Very clear!
IOW...by your definition we all experience them, even if the mind hasn't gone into 2 year-old mode. So sometimes that means losing it, but not necessarily. It can also mean just losing composure and balance.
 

OTH86

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
My “moment” (not a true “meltdown” - imho) was when I was very tired, very wet, and with arthritic pain everywhere - all of which I’ve experienced before - separately and together and much worse. I had walked from Saint Jean and was about 30 km from Santiago. Walking into A Calle there was café Tia Dolores. Without thinking - just feeling miserable - I walked into the café and found just Tia and Tio. I started crying. (But why?) She seated me at a table and sat across from me, held my hand, and just looked at me with such kind eyes - and tears. Tio was pacing behind me. In my pathetic Spanish I poured out my pathetic complaints, and asked if there was a taxi I could take to Santiago. “But you’re so near” Tia said. “But (sobbing) I already have a Compostela, I don’t need another one.” “Are you sure?” “Si, Señora” - she was still crying with me. Tio put his hand on my shoulder, and offered to drive me to Santiago. I was gulping sobs. (what is wrong with me??) They helped me out to the car, and with hugs from Tia, we headed to Santiago. As we passed Santa Irene, Tio looked at me with a question in his eyes, and said gently, “Look, there are pilgrims - walking.” I assured him I was ok now, and didn’t need to walk any more. In Santiago, he took me to San Martín, helped me with my pack, gave me a hug, and I gave him a bunch of bills - “for gas”. And we parted. I will never forget those two kind souls. I believe we were simply supposed to meet - because I cannot think why else this happened.
The next two years (2015 & 2016) when I walked the Camino, I tried to find this gentle couple, but they were not there. The cafe was there but appeared closed both times. Perhaps they close on 31 Oct. Maybe in 2020 I’ll find them… ❤❤
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Pain disappears into a vague memory for me. When it is gone, it is gone. I think so, anyway! Maybe that is why I can’t recall a camino meltdown. I do recall though that I became very strongly aware of the futility of coming to a full stop. There is no way back. Also,on my first camino, at the grand old age of 58, I had the comfort of knowing that others had been there before me and lived to tell the tale. I devoured all I could find of camino accounts, and truly drew strength from that. I never cease to be thankful to the kind generosity of one dedicated pilgrim who was a beacon for me. One moment that could have been a meltdown turned into such a laugh! Portomarin. No beds, well not in our budget. After a happy lunch with some of our companions on the way, off we set in the smirrs of rain, at one point almost running to try to get to the next albergue before a couple of young guys...ha! It was closed for repairs! When, 13 extra km later (prior to setting off, I had declared that 28km would be my daily max!) we finally found a ( very expensive €9.00 )bunk bed, the prize was realising that stamina had increased without being aware of it, and another enjoyable gathering of most of the folks we had coincided with from day one . In sum, the awareness that I got: there is no way back - perhaps that is the sign that meltdown point was flickering away on the calibrator.
I echo thanks for your inspiration in opening this thread, @VNwalking. For those looking for hope that it is possible, with the good, the bad and the ugly, there will be words here to encourage those with fears of being able to do it...
 

Sixwheeler

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Arles Route (2013/2014 onwards)
Not sure if this counts but years ago, with a couple of mates, I walked/scrambled/climbed the Aonach Eagach Ridge, a very challenging ridge along the north side of Glencoe in Scotland. Long road walk in the rain; climb to the first summit; scramble about two and a half miles along a tricky ridge then a long descent back to the road. We had rain, cloud, sleet and howling wind; it was awesome and awful throughout. As we descended the sky cleared and the sun came out so we ended up footsore and too hot.

Walking back along the road to where we were camped you have to walk past the famous Clachaig Inn and we felt it would be rude not to visit and refresh ourselves. When we sat down with our pints of beer I announced "That's it, never again, I am retiring from mountaineering, I've had enough!" I then took my boots off and hurled them out of the door into the road.

Several pints later I had to retrieve them for the walk back to the tents, it had been raining again so they were wet, things had reached rock bottom.

The following day we climbed Curved Ridge on Buchaille Etive Mhor in sunshine and just made it down into the Climbers' Bar of the Kingshouse Hotel as the rain started.

Two of the best days ever!
 

martin1ws

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Somport to Finisterre Jul-Aug 2018
...Everyone has a ‘Meltdown’ threshold....
I was lucky on my first camino that I had no meltdown point... sometimes it was hard... in the meseta when I ran out of water "in the damn summer sun"... or "unfair"... when my municipal albergue had no dryer for de-bedbugging my equipment and the hospitalero in the next albergue in the village did not allow me to use (and pay for) his dryer if I did not sleep there.
I did not think about meltdowns then... but maybe I would have thought that some pilgrims are not prepared properly (e. g. shoes that do not fit at all or much too heavy backpacks or a too strict time schedule or ...). Now I would say that you can improve your chances by good preparation. But you need to be lucky or at least not unlucky.
So I am thankful that I was so lucky to be healthy... and the weather was good most of the time... and I was lucky that there was no bed-race... and that I got to know so many great people always at the 'right' time who helped me if I needed it... and I had enough time so that I felt never stress from a time-schedule...
so I am looking forward to my next camino so much, hopefully in 2020... but maybe my meltdown point will be much closer then.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Two of the best days ever!
Amazing, isn't it?!
Terrible and wonderful at the same time.

we set in the smirrs of rain
Poetry, and I can feel the rain dripping down my neck when I read your post! But laughter is the meltdown antidote...especially when you can giggle at a meltdown in process. So how many kms did that end up being?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Le Puy
I had a brief meltdown today. And not all meltdowns need to be on a camino, well caminos come in all sorts of forms. I'm in India, about 2 hours out of Mumbai and I've spend several hours trying to find something I can eat for breakfast. I've just broken a rule of mine and tried Macdonald but even that let me down so when inevitably a poor women with two children on her hips confronted me for some largess I said NO and immediately felt bad because her day is bad every day not just the occasional one so I said yes and proceeded to give her 50 rupees. Now 50 rupees is a dollar to you and me but normally this is a reasonable amount in such circumstances but not this day she snatched the note and demanded more. That's my trigger for the meltdown. I asked for the money back but.... as only India can do, within seconds I realized the futility of that demand and stomped off. Meltdown pretty much subsided then and there but for someone impervious to such things there are moments when they just happen. Bonne camino
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I have to admit chuckling at what happened, Trevor...
Ahhh, Mother India.
The land of no middle ground between extremes. Beauty and horror side by side.
It's so intense sometimes.
It's its own kind of camino!
Buen camino, peregrino.... ;)
 

DeansFamily

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 18/916/10/17 Muxia/Finisterre 18/10-22/10/17 Norte 21/4-29/5/18 Primitive 20/9-5/10/18 VdlP
Happy to say “no meltdown points” so far on any Caminos. The three of us might get a bit snitchy with each other, as you do when you get tired and irritable. Maybe it’s our running training that kicks in. With distance running it’s more mental than physical and you can break difficult parts into sections and count it down as you go. Tricking yourself that it’s not that much further (to the top of the mountain, along a boring section of tar, etc...) is useful and also good uplifting music is excellent to be able to disconnect from the fatigue or pain. We only use our music when it is getting to that point as we don’t want to disconnect to everything happening around us when everything is good. I find it easy to autopilot when it starts to get difficult and just think “come on....5 kms is just a parkrun, it’s not that far really” Walking into Ourense tomorrow, hopefully I haven’t jinxed myself and lose the plot somewhere o_O
 
Camino(s) past & future
Going Camino Portuguese
on the Camino Portugues heading from Tomar to Alvaiazere
I also had meltdown point there, it was my very first day on Camino, and I started around 10, so soon it turned out to be quite hot without any shade and I felt exhausted. Luckily, there was a sign on the road to an albergue running by a Dutch girl, with some fellow piligrims already inside. I remember that first minutes I couldn’t even say anything. They really helped me!
And the second meltdown point was in a village of Vila do Conde, on the ocean shore, next day after Porto, when I already had swollen feet for a few days. I remember the morning, before sunset of course, Roman aqueduct and suburban tram with bright sign “Porto” on it. At that time every step stroke back with pain, especially on the start, but standing still was even worse. I felt like if I take this tram I would easily go back to the airport and return to the comfort of my home... so sweet! It was a moment of clarity, when I decided, probably just of stubborness, to go forth, nevermind the aches and pains, and not surrender and regret later about it .
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Here was my meltdown point of the Camino Ingles in October (from a previous post)

"The last morning into Santiago. . . a 6 mile walk. . . was the hardest for me. I crumped about a mile into the stage. I mean I nearly felt like just sitting down and stopping for good. My pace was exceedingly slow and at a shuffling slog. What should have been a 2 hour walk - at most - turned into a nearly 6 hour, seemingly, forced march. 😣

Jill became anxious that I was having a very serious problem and might need to contact emergency personnel. But my heart rate was normal and so was my breathing. . no signs of a cardiovascular event. I kept asking her to wait on doing that, and we took frequent breaks.

After reaching the outskirts of Santiago, we found an open bar and had some breakfast and fluids. We rested there for a good 40 minutes, at least. By the time we left, I was back to my normal self and had no further problems at all during the rest of the day.

Last week when I visited my primary care person, it was guessed that I was having some sort of temporary onset of a thyroid hormone issue that self-resolved. She also said that the health issues from last December and January probably contributed to the problem."
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
I slightly expected one today, as the forecasts for this part of Galicia have been terrible for days, and for once were accurate (the last few days the rain has only started after I've got to my albergue, which is not really fair or sustainable).

It was horrible. The albergue last night (A Laxe on the Sanabrés) has a thin roof, so listening to the rain drum down from 1am did not help sleep. And the finality of shutting the door on the empty albergue at first light felt like shutting out all comfort. But once you get going, and know you just have to keep going, it's really not that bad. I may have stopped for (much) more coffee than usual, dripping over most of the bars of the Deza valley, but I saw a rainbow, a 12th century tympanum of Samson, and crossed a bridge over a thousand years old.

The menú del día at Bandeira may not have been that special, but eating it in the warmth in sympathetic company it was as good as a Michelin star. Ditto the local albergue, despite being apparently made of portacabins.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Have you ever walked in so much rain, Alan? The weather sounds like it's been a wee bit damper than usual...
 

Theresa Brandon

Artist, photographer, dreamer
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Inglés (2018)
My meltdown was a few days into the Ingles, my first Camino. I found the hills to be draining, my training inadequate, our pace a little too fast, issues with asthma and (pre-existing, non serious) heart palpitations. I sadly and tearily decided I wouldn't be able to continue walking as planned. Just a few miles further I rather inexplicably cheered up once we visited the Santuario De Nuestra Senora de Camino. I spent the rest of the Ingles taxiing ahead to our destination for the day, walking backwards along the Camino to find a spot to draw and paint for the day, until my companions came into sight and we would walk back to our hotel together. It turned out to be a lovely way to spend my days - with time alone and time together. Once I got back to the States I immediately booked a return ticket for 9 months in the future. With more training, better shoes, a better pack and a new prescription for a beta blocker, I returned to attempt the Ingles again with a friend. This time I had a much better idea of what to expect and was able to complete it at a comfortable pace with plenty of time for photos, sketches, petting dogs and plenty of breaks for cafe con leche.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Teresa, your story is such a good example of just finding a way forward, emerging stronger!

And it reminds me of another precipitating factor for a meltdown: expectation meeting reality. The more starry-eyed and glowing the expectations...well, watch out: a hard landing may be around the next corner.
 

Peregrinopaul

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
There haven’t been any posts from bicigrinos yet, but it may not surprise you that we too have meltdowns. It’s happened to me twice.

First on that horrible ascent up to El Calvario on the approach to Almaden on the VdlP, in stifling mid afternoon June heat, on the second day of my first camino, when I realised I was beaten. I had been trying to lug my heavy mountain bike and (separately) panniers up the rocky and gullied slope in stages. Slouched exhausted on the ground under a tree, drinking the last of my water, in utter despair, I was saved by the arrival of a man on horseback, who immediately recognised my predicament, took all my bags and rode off towards the top. He sent down a young man to help me with my bike. As far as I was concerned it was a camino miracle. He was the first person I’d seen all day since leaving Castelblanco.

The second was last year, also in June, crossing the Sierra from Navacerrada to Segovia in a relentless downpour. I was totally ill-equipped for the conditions. I took the road - I’m sure the track from Cercedilla would have been impassible on a bike. It took me three and a half hours to reach the 1890m summit by which time I was soaked through and my teeth were literally chattering I was so cold. But reaching the top I was greeted with a round of applause from people on the terrace of the bar cafe. It turned out that they were actually there to cheer on runners in a cross country race, who were arriving at intervals. But it had a magical effect on my resolve nevertheless.
 

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: Nijmegen (Holland) to Fisterra, July-November 2019.

Future: Te Araroa, NZ
Mild exasperation to prolonged sit downs? Are you sure those are melt-downs? ;)

In my book a "meltdown" is completely losing it. I had a few of those, in France.

At one point it was raining so hard the streets were rivers. I was in an area with hills and cows - and I wanted to put up my tent for shelter.

Except I couldn't find the tent poles anywhere. I looked and I looked, the downpour never stopped. The bag wouldn't give them up.

Eventually I just shook out the entire bag on the street, screaming. My belongings fell out and I found the tent poles.

Of course by that time I had zero dry belongings. Tent? soaked. Clothes? soaked. Sleeping bag? soaked.

My only friends were the cows, who had gathered in single file to witness this and bowed their head as I gathered my belongings.

I checked into a hotel that night. Now that's a meltdown.

Another priceless moment is when I ran up a ski piste in the Morvan. The path just went up at this insane angle and it just never ended.

So I decided to run. And run I did - to the top. With my backpack.
 
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pelerine

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte 10, Primitivo 13, Plata 14+15, Salvador 16, Torres 17, Portugues 18, Mozarabe 19
Not really a meltdown - however this was coming out of Corcubion:

"It was still raining steadily and heavily, very windy - had been all morning. This has been very
difficult... It rained so much and there was so much wind that I thought, maybe this is to make
me realize how lucky I have been, weatherwise. I think altogether I have not had more than 10
days of rain in the 5 months I have been 'on the road'! And then I stopped thinking and just
put one foot in front of the other and concentrated on that - my feet were wet - then I started
feeling the waterlevel rise in my boots - it is impressive how much weight you have to lug along
in the shape of water-filled boots - and then the demoralizing effect of the squelch! squelch!
squelch! sound you make with each step! Then I started praying, please, let me soon be there!
Let it remain flat until I get there! Neither was to be! When I came out of town it was another
two kilometres and all of it uphill and some of it steeply and always the pouring rain........
Am sitting in front of the albergue - it does not open for another three hours! - on a block of
wood on a cushion and under my umbrella. Kept my pack on my back and with this I am leaning
against the front door trying to keep my feet tucked under my thighs and the lot under cover
of the umbrella - this is quite comfortable. And then a little black and white cat arrived and
climbed all over me trying to find a place to settle - so I untucked my legs to let him sit on my
lap - finally he has settled in the space between the pack, its straps and the back of my neck,
thus keeping me warm. Just now he is having a wash and is giving me one too - I can feel a
rough little tongue on my neck."
 

Susan M Fron

SusanM
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (August 2019)
In another thread Dave posted this:

Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become a moving target?
I don't know if I would call this a meltdown per se, but the morning I left Pamplona I was very, very tired and very frustrated. The day before I had traveled in to Pamplona, had to pick up a SIM card finally and got into the old Town using my Google maps rather than following the signs because I got lost. I checked into the albergue Jesus and Maria, cleaned up and decided to look around. I became frustrated because this was the first large town and the streets of course we're not north south east west. I finally found somewhere to eat and met up with some people I had been walking with so that was a great comfort. The next morning it was still dark when I was leaving and I had to meet up with a couple of people. Once again I became frustrated because I was unsure how to get to where I needed to go. I am 66 years old, this is my first trip out of the USA, and I really thought I didn't know what I was doing and I wouldn't be able to do it. I found the spot I was supposed to meet up with my friends and they weren't there. I waited 10 minutes and decided to just go on by myself. Eventually they found me and told me they sent me to the wrong spot. Once I was walking it was much better. And that's what I found out in most of the larger cities, once I was out of them and walking I was fine.
 

Larry OHeron

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata
The day after entering Switzerland on the Via Francigena I walked in thick mist for hours. I could only see about 5 metres and only heard cow bells. I don't know what happend, but I started crying like a 5 year old and could not stop myself. The weather didn't help also, it had been raining non stop, soaking everything I had on me. I kept on crying for two days. I made a plan to get myself home when I reached Lausanne. But the minute I entered Lausanne, I suddenly felt so happy and light! Even though nothing had changed. Still raining, stil misty.
I did not go home, but just kept on walking. Some of my best days came after that, crossing the Alpes in the most glorious weather.
Even now I if I hear cow bells, the remind me of those horrible days.
Just finished VF thru Switzerland. It definitely had its days, but at the end, I was very happy.
 

Larry OHeron

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via De La Plata
The day after entering Switzerland on the Via Francigena I walked in thick mist for hours. I could only see about 5 metres and only heard cow bells. I don't know what happend, but I started crying like a 5 year old and could not stop myself. The weather didn't help also, it had been raining non stop, soaking everything I had on me. I kept on crying for two days. I made a plan to get myself home when I reached Lausanne. But the minute I entered Lausanne, I suddenly felt so happy and light! Even though nothing had changed. Still raining, stil misty.
I did not go home, but just kept on walking. Some of my best days came after that, crossing the Alpes in the most glorious weather.
Even now I if I hear cow bells, the remind me of those horrible days.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Eventually I just shook out the entire bag on the street, screaming. My belongings fell out and I found the tent poles.
Wow. That's a meltdown. Actually, it's a step beyond, into the realm of losing it. 🙃
I can totally relate. And have to say I'm impressed.

But you kept going!
That's way more important than the meltdown.
 

512

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
My wife and I did the Norte in 2017. She had never hiked before, never camped or stayed in a hostel, and we did a "proper" camino: up early, stayed (almost) exclusively in albergues, walked every day.
She had 9 meltdowns on that trip. 9. I know because I started keeping track after her 3rd. Full on stopping, crying, "what are we doing here" tantrums. They never lasted long, though, and walking a km or so without a pack, or having something besides menu del dia for dinner, something more American style, helped.
There was no specific reason, really, (hot, cold, rain, uphill, downhill, didn't seem to matter) just her not being used to walking, or not sleeping well, or realizing suddenly that we were in a foreign country, on foot, outside, all on our own.
This last one happened to us both, in Santillana del Mar, sitting on a stone bench eating ice cream, and we both started laughing and crying at the same time and saying "what the hell" over and over; it struck home that we were in the middle of Spain, had gotten there on foot, and had to get out on foot.
But that was kind of a happy meltdown, I guess.
Our camino this year was very different, and, not a single meltdown.
 

Jim Stinson

ibrew4u
Camino(s) past & future
5/2015 CF
4/2017 CF
5/2019 CF fr Astorga
I have walked the Frances and the Portugues, multiple times. I have never had a meltdown or hit a wall. How could I? I am on holiday. If anything about walking the Camino affected me so much that I was on the verge of a meltdown, I would simply go home, or say of it was physical, just take a couple days off, bus ahead a wee bit and carry on. Come to think of it, I can honestly say I never had an actual "bad day" whilst walking the Camino. Sure, knees and feet get sore. A minor blizzard I found myself in was a bit hairy. A few times there was frustration when the first albergues I went to were completo and I had to keep looking, and even just shelled out for a private room or just kept walking to the next town. All those are simply inconveniences. Not life or death. Nothing worth getting dramatic over and like I said, you can always just egress and go home or somewhere else. It is not a death march.
Sounds like a meltdown to me. Egressing and [taking your ball] going home is a meltdown. Lucky for you this never happened on one of your Caminos and caused you to execute your meltdown plan.
The Camino can serve as a lesson for life, a mirror if you will. Where else in your life do you have an egress and go home plan for when life gets tough?
Good introspection, I think. Thanks for sharing this.
 

Canuck Pilgrim

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017 Camino Frances
September 2019 Camino Frances
In another thread Dave posted this:

Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become a moving target?
 

Canuck Pilgrim

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2017 Camino Frances
September 2019 Camino Frances
I recently finished the Camino Frances and one day I came close to what might be considered a melt down. After walking in the pouring rain for 6 hours , sick with a head cold and a UTI I reached a point where my legs just did not seem to want to work anymore. I could barely lift them and then all of a sudden a car came out of nowhere ,the driver saw that I was struggling and stopped to help me. I was only 2 Km away from Palais de Rei but I could not move. They offered me a lift which I was reluctant to take but I was also grateful. Since I have a heart issue and I had hit the wall I did accept their generous offer. Even though it was only 2km to go the fact that someone would be kind enough to help a struggling Pilgrim energized me enough not to have a melt down and I was able to finish my Camino in 4 more days.

Blessings
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
In adverse circumstances be it on the Camino or on non walking days sometimes a realization comes over you like a force of nature. Maybe looking for something and it is not where we think they are or we think this is the end no more finish. We all are defined by our mortality so on every Camino I came to this point.
I had walked the majority of my Camino by myself. I like solitude but not isolation.
So after walking long stretches towards Sevilla ugly along the highway, not a soul on two legs or on four. No place to sit no shade. I felt so utterly alone ...so left behind ...I started crying.
But then there was a voice saying very gentle. Is this true?
And my mind said No
I saw it was a very old experience when I was very little and there was this absolute knowledge I am never alone anymore. How happy am I to have all this friends, my mate my kids and myself. And I was laughing and laughing.
So those gentle powers name them as you will find a way to assist you when you most need it and if it is in the form of curious cows even better.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
It's amazing how many replies this has evoked, and how varied they are! Thank you, everyone.

I cannot agree more. 'Meltdown' is such a pejorative word, but really it's just where we go past the current edge of what we are able to bear without losing inner balance. Some people express that and some don't. In order to strengthen resilience, inevitably we have to go over that edge, but then regain a deeper balance.


Please. 🙏 ;)
So true
 
Cant say as how I ever had one. Closest maybe was the morning walking out of Logroño. I just felt so lethargic. My son kept telling me about this little café by a lake but the long flat trail was really grating on my nerves. Got to the lake and settled down in the sun for a café con leche. A Dutch friend said it was so pleasant there that we should have a second coffee. Then off we went and the morning walk out of town was forgotten.
Walking out of Logrono felt endless to me. And walking into Burgos through the mistaken path through the city! Walking onto Burgos I stopped at a shoe store and bought slippers to wear the rest of the way in.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Sounds like a meltdown to me. Egressing and [taking your ball] going home is a meltdown. Lucky for you this never happened on one of your Caminos and caused you to execute your meltdown plan.
The Camino can serve as a lesson for life, a mirror if you will. Where else in your life do you have an egress and go home plan for when life gets tough?
Good introspection, I think. Thanks for sharing this.
Cannot say I ever had a meltdown plan as the concept of having a meltdown while walking the Camino never entered my mind. How can I have a meltdown on a holiday from work? lol....The only thing I really plan when I walk the Camino is my airplane tickets. when I go and when I come back, lol.
Life? Sure, walking the Camino is a part of one's life when they do it, but it is just a holiday from regular day to day things we all do or have done. Work etc. So I would merely look at it as cutting a vacation short. No different if you were to go off somewhere for say a canoe trip and there was a bad drought and the levels were too low and you couldn't get a paddle wet. Oh well. So is life. Maybe next year. Nothing to have a meltdown over. Just bad luck if you will, or even if it turned out you suddenly thought canoeing sucked and said the heck with it, and went golfing instead. Not a big deal.
I do not think I will ever fathom the concept of walking the Camino to be stressful, austere, harsh, meltdown worthy or even finding the need to "decompress" from it, as I have seen in posts on this forum.
 

TaraWalks

Peregrina without a skateboard
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016 & 2018, planning for Le Puy 2019/2020ish and for some shorter Caminos stacked
De-bedbugging in a laundromat in Logroño, my sister and I were arguing. It didn’t quite come to blows but there was a bit of physicality involved. We thought were were alone until the police walked in. The owner was out the back, had witnessed the whole thing and had called the cops. Looking back it was probably a pretty gnarly thing to witness. I guess the exhaustion and a year of trauma for each of us had caught up. That was my big meltdown moment (and probably my sister’s too). I relegated myself to supervising our garbage bagged packs heating up in the park while I blubbered. Not our finest moment as a family but we can laugh about it now.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
Actually, that’s not true.... Oops. Just read Sabine’s post and her grief 😓

I too ‘lost it’ on the Via Francigena, a few days from reaching Rome. I had just learnt of the totally unexpected sudden death of my best friend (whom I had been practically every other day in contact with whilst walking). I kept a straight face for a day or so and then, a day or two before Rome, on a quiet suburban stretch, two aggressive guard dogs barred the way. (The gate to their house was left open, they were guarding in the middle of the road and ... no owners).
After a long while, one car stopped but the driver refused to get out of the car, he was just as scared as we were 😀 My walking mate by then was yelling at me to get out my dog dazzer, I fumbled in my bag for it but found it didn’t work!
So I just burst into tears, uncontrollably. I have no recollection how we got past those snarling dogs with very ugly yellow bared teeth. (That is my lasting memory of the incident).
I just cried my eyes out for the remaining kms.

Is that a ‘melt-down’? It had very little to do with walking a Camino or the VF, it was just shock and reaction after unexpected grief . (I think).
But still pretty embarrassing! 🙄
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Wow, @domigee ... an intense experience, to be sure. If you define meltdown in a lenient way as just losing balance, that sure qualifies.

The more we talk about it, the less I like the word though, because it brings to mind a spoiled toddler in a supermarket.

What I think @davebugg was thinking of (and Dave, please correct me if I'm wrong) was loss of inner equilibrium, spectacularly or otherwise. And we all do that.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2019
In another thread Dave posted this:

Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become a moving target?
Misjudging what was realistic during training in Oregon and in reality what happened the first 6 days!!! 13-17 projected miles that turned into 4 days in a row of between 22-26 miles!!! Not used to a pack- especially one that heavy and had to tell myself that this is what I wanted- this is what I planned for 3 years(actually 4!!).
Severely injured toenail causing excruciating pain with each step!!! Stripped raw physically and emotionally and WOULD NEVER REGRET my decision to continue... Most life changing experience I have had and wouldn’t second guess having this experience EVER!!!
Melt downs - yes.... mentally stronger because of them- ABSOLUTELY!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked in "2016," "2018"
I both experienced close to what you might call a meltdown as well as an epiphany. Three years ago, my peregrino friend and I reached Los Arcos after a day’s walk from Estella. While strolling around the center of town, we suddenly found ourselves to be fenced in. Upon enquiring what was up we were told that there was going to be a bull run. Bull run was not something I had been expecting, but before we could escape, the run had already started. We had to endure the event until it was over.

It was a harrowing experience seeing the bull being chased down by a horde of people, both young and middle aged. I could see fear being written all over the face of the bull as it was desperately trying to escape through any possible opening. I could literally see foam oozing out of the mouth of the panic-stricken bull. I was surprised to see that several peregrinos in the crowd were even clapping and cheering for the chasers of the bull. While the bull was eventually able to meander its way out of the immediate center of town, two more bulls showed up and went through a similar experience as the first one.

I had a hard time reconciling myself with the fact that I should be experiencing the torture of an animal while on a spiritual journey. It pained me even more that the same display was played out on even a bigger scale on another Camino town, Pamplona. The agonizing thoughts kept me up most of the night.

The bright side from the first-hand experience in Los Arcos was that having seen the plight of the bull turned me into an ardent advocate for animal welfare and plant-based diet.
 

longwalker60

Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2018
In another thread Dave posted this:

Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become a moving target?
great post, I remember the day when I was walking pass the Iron Cross, at sunrise a great start to a beautiful day. About 3 hours later, I remember going through this very small town, seemed deserted. then going down this small rocky path, starting from large boulders to small stones. I knew the stones would be tearing up my feet,; I had just recovered from some large blisters from the week before. I was angry, exhausted and sad to say, cussing out load-thinking I deserve better; It seemed like it was never going to end. This day was my worst day, harder then the first day from SJPP. In my mind, I knew there was going to be an end, I really had no justification for feeling that way, and was acting like a spoiled brat, knowing others had it worse then that. Also, somewhat ashamed for my thoughts and cussing out load.
 

Jermann75

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
3 times on the Camino Frances:

1. After my first round of bed bug bites, and then an infected blister with many other blisters... the final straw was seeing blood in my urine and wondering "what the hell is next????"
2. After my second round of bed bug bites, ending up in the hospital from a kidney stone in Leon and not knowing if I was going to be flown to Switzerland (where my family was) or back to Canada (where my insurance was) or being treated in Spain and was I even going to finish the camino?? Complete heartache with not knowing my future... a real lesson in letting go.
3. Finishing said camino only to be greeted that night after a beautiful hot shower with over 100 bed bugs bites (my 3rd and final round)... at least I had finished but it felt like a final fuck you at the time.
4. Arriving back to Switzerland and realizing that I didn't pass the kidney stone as the hospital in Leon thought, then not being covered by insurance (because the hospital discharged me) and possibly having to go back to Canada for surgery, followed by 3 more weeks of pain and ending up in the hospital AGAIN. Sigh... (stone passed on it's own 5 weeks after initial diagnosis in Leon thank goodness!)

I learned that things will always get better, and bad and better, and bad and better REPEAT! :)
 

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2018 (across Pyrenees, then Sarria to SdC), CF 2019 (SJPdP to Finisterra & Muxia), CI 2019
Not really a meltdown, but more of a self-pitying thought that lasted all of (maybe) a minute on the meseta under empty skies, 40 plus degree temps, after 30km, and no shade, town, or bar in sight: "What the hell am I doing this for?"

Yeah, that lasted long (like I said, less than a minute), then it was "Oooh, look, shiny thing!"
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
This thread has some really great posts for thought. Let me re-post how I defined 'Meltdown' within the thread I started about the Camino Ingles.

"The Meltdown symptoms can range from a mild exasperation with a prolonged sit-down to gather thoughts, to a full-blown crumbling into a gooey mass of sobbing and surrender, leading to bailing out and heading for home. Sometimes the Meltdown is primarily psychological in origin, and sometimes it is primarily physical. There is usually a mixture of both components."

'Meltdown', as I used the term has a wide variation of causes and symptoms, but I did not use the term to mean a singular, one-size-fits-all bad thing. Perhaps a better word could have been chosen. :)
For those that want to contest the term itself, I actually think "Have you ever experienced a meltdown"? is more manageable and than "Have you ever had symptoms ranging from a mild exasperation with a prolonged sit-down to gather thoughts, to a full-blown crumbling into a gooey mass of sobbing and surrender, leading to bailing out and heading for home. Sometimes the Meltdown is primarily psychological in origin, and sometimes it is primarily physical. There is usually a mixture of both components?"

The term is elastic, so I think we all know what was intended, and can respond in-kind. Thank you anyway DB for the elucidation.

Want to hear about my meltdown? A hot day on the Aragones, dehydrated and exhausted, reaching the albergue late afternoon to find it locked with instructions on the door to ring the owner in Spanish to get admitted. Golly, was I cross! Vexed, in fact.

Someone soon after emerged from within and made the call for me. Meltdown over. (I'm half-German, from the neck-up.)
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Vexed, in fact.
Yeah. I bet.

Wow, the wonderful replies keep coming - this is a goldmine of inspiration!
Yeah, that lasted long (like I said, less than a minute), then it was "Oooh, look, shiny thing!"
Funny, isn't it, how the mind is so easily distractable?
If we're present, that can be so useful when it begins to get gnarly...
This last one happened to us both, in Santillana del Mar, sitting on a stone bench eating ice cream, and we both started laughing and crying at the same time and saying "what the hell" over and over; it struck home that we were in the middle of Spain, had gotten there on foot, and had to get out on foot.
I love this!
Not our finest moment as a family but we can laugh about it now.
This too. Oh, my...I can imagine. :eek: 🤣
Complete heartache with not knowing my future... a real lesson in letting go.
Just...wow. What a vulnerable place to have to learn to rest in!
I had a hard time reconciling myself with the fact that I should be experiencing the torture of an animal while on a spiritual journey.
A spiritual journey isn't just sweetness and light but also heartbreak and horror. And though that bullrun would have been horrible to witness...it's what inspired deepening kindness and compasson.

Challenge may cause meltdowns (however you define them), but it is such a gift. Here's someone who can articulate that much better than I:

KINDNESS
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
--Naomi Shihab Nye
 

longwalker60

Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2018
3 times on the Camino Frances:

1. After my first round of bed bug bites, and then an infected blister with many other blisters... the final straw was seeing blood in my urine and wondering "what the hell is next????"
2. After my second round of bed bug bites, ending up in the hospital from a kidney stone in Leon and not knowing if I was going to be flown to Switzerland (where my family was) or back to Canada (where my insurance was) or being treated in Spain and was I even going to finish the camino?? Complete heartache with not knowing my future... a real lesson in letting go.
3. Finishing said camino only to be greeted that night after a beautiful hot shower with over 100 bed bugs bites (my 3rd and final round)... at least I had finished but it felt like a final fuck you at the time.
4. Arriving back to Switzerland and realizing that I didn't pass the kidney stone as the hospital in Leon thought, then not being covered by insurance (because the hospital discharged me) and possibly having to go back to Canada for surgery, followed by 3 more weeks of pain and ending up in the hospital AGAIN. Sigh... (stone passed on it's own 5 weeks after initial diagnosis in Leon thank goodness!)

I learned that things will always get better, and bad and better, and bad and better REPEAT! :)
dam... as my daughter used to say....just shoot me know...you really had a tough time...My hats off to you!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Walked in "2016," "2018"
Yeah. I bet.

Wow, the wonderful replies keep coming - this is a goldmine of inspiration!

Funny, isn't it, how the mind is so easily distractable?
If we're present, that can be so useful when it begins to get gnarly...
I love this!
This too. Oh, my...I can imagine. :eek: 🤣
Just...wow. What a vulnerable place to have to learn to rest in!
A spiritual journey isn't just sweetness and light but also heartbreak and horror. And though that bullrun would have been horrible to witness...it's what inspired deepening kindness and compasson.

Challenge may cause meltdowns (however you define them), but it is such a gift. Here's someone who can articulate that much better than I:

KINDNESS
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
--Naomi Shihab Nye
Very thoughtful responses. Many thanks.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
For those that want to contest the term itself, I actually think "Have you ever experienced a meltdown"? is more manageable...[than..]
Certainly, but "meltdown" is a word that implies serious drama, beyond "Have you ever had a bad day/hour/minute?" 😀

Thus, the friendly challenge to the word choice. In any case, the discussion of "breaking points" is a good one.
 

Sosthenes

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese 2020
In another thread Dave posted this:

Which got me thinking of the times when I've 'hit the wall.' and how different it feels to walk day after say as opposed to undertaling a shorter, limited duration event like (say) a marathon or triathlon. It's easier to persevere in the latter two, because when it's over, it's over. But the camino has a relentessness that can really wear on you.

On day 2 of one of my early journeys on the Frances I was in a lot of pain from some mysterious foot complaint. So somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona I just sat down on the verge of the road, and angrily threw my boots off onto the dirt like a 2 year-old having a tantrum. The hissy-fit only lasted a few minutes, then I just felt ridiculous. So I changed my shoes, got up, and just kept walking - and all was well in the end. I learned that day that meltdowns are definitely temporary...

Which didn't stop me several days later from pouring myself into a bar in Atapuerca and just collapsing into self-pity. That day, the weather felt like a combination of a firehose and a wind turbine an I'd had it!

But these moments seem to happen less and less the more the camino 'breaks me in.' Each walk has been different, but meltdowns don't happen so much anymore, if at all. Which is only a blessing that I don't assume to be permanent...

I wonder if I'm the only one. What's your meltdown point, what does it look like, and has it become

Prayer might have helped
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Prayer might have helped
Like...we weren't? Thete's no way of knowing that.

Actually it sounds like lots of prayers were being said and answered: if you pray for strength, likely what you're going to get are the difficult conditions that cause it to develop. Nothing gets delivered on a silver platter... ;)
 

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