Final preparation for the Camino

The sky purpled darkly as we set off up the hill, packs loaded as though for the journey — plus a bit. The hard part now, is not the packs, but the mind. We have trained physically, walking and increasing distance steadily, the next part was to get used to the packs, then walking with fully loaded packs.

But now, as we prepare to package the packs for the flight, the heavy part is the mind. The long-range weather forecasts are not good, and already the forthcoming French rail strike has changed our mode of travel from train to bus. And to cap it all off, much of Spain and the Pyrenees is still under snow.

But to paraphrase the novel Dune, fear is the mind killer. There is a Camino saying that the weight of your pack is the sum of your fears. It is easy to overthink and try to prepare for every eventuality. This only results in an overloaded pack. It is time to get back to basics — It is time to travel mindfully.

Our basic physical needs are simple: 2 changes of tops, 1 fleecy, 1 pair of trekking pants (the other is to wear), a lightweight Goretex jacket for the wind and rain, and rain pants in case it gets really stormy. 3 pairs of undies (one to wear), 3 pairs of socks (1 to wear) and the same with sock liners. A lightweight sleeping bag a few toiletries and your choice of tech – I recommend at least a phone – for emergencies or to make a booking ahead or to communicate with family. It can double as your camera too.

It is better to pack a bit light and then add along the way if you really need something. For most normal medical requirements there are chemists/farmacia in most towns, and the larger centres will be able to supply any gear shortfalls – including backpacks, poles, fleecies etc. Even the hamlets often have vending machines with blister care and pain relief products, so for these kinds of things, just carry enough for a day or two, and buy more as and when you need them.

But the main thing to pack is your mindful appreciation for those who have gone before and for those who walk with us on our journey, both inner and outer. I call this packing a lighter mind – leave anxieties, judgemental attitudes and enmities behind, and find the world as you encounter it.

Everyone walks their own Camino, and remember, real pilgrims don’t judge other pilgrims. The only requirement of a real pilgrim is to be registered and to walk the last 100kms. The rest is entirely up to you -Buen Camino! 🙂

Paris – the final pack for the Camino

Arriving back in Paris after a two-day visit to Northern France to see some friends, it is time to get serious for the final pack. We will be sending a bag on to Santiago de Compostela with our smart clothes, so we will only have the bare essentials for the backpacks we’ll take on the Camino de Santiago (French route).

Camino pack

We repacked several times, weighing the packs each time, only to find them still too heavy, so we repacked again.

See here for my packing video made before we departed from Australia.

With the third re-pack it is uncomfortably apparent that my DSLR camera is just too heavy – it weighs almost 1.5kg in its bag. So it’s hard decision time. Reluctantly, I have to admit that my 10kg backpack is right on the limit – and that is without water – or the camera! So, with the decision made, I packed the camera in the send-on bag and resolved to work on my iPhone camera skills.

With that decision made, and the packs as light as we could manage, it was time to get some sleep – to be ready for an early check-out and a short walk to the Montparnasse railway station.

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INDEX – If you wish to follow our journey from the beginning, or jump in to any of the Camino posts,
here is a link to the index page – which can also be found in the navigation bar at the top of this blog

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Packing for the Camino de santiago

The Camino de Santiago (French way/Camino Frances) is an 800km/500 mile trek. It is a traditional Christian pilgrimage route from southern France, over the Pyrenees, and across northern Spain. The route is open for anyone to walk, whether for fitness, tourism, spiritual or religious reasons.

The distance is not to be undertaken lightly and it is important to keep your backpack as light as possible – after all, you will be carrying it for around one million steps over a wide variety of terrain and weather conditions.

Walking in solitude

Accommodation is typically in municipal or private albergues, or hostels. So at least you don’t need to carry a tent or your own cooking utensils, but by all accounts, it is a not insignificant trek.

I made a video showing what I have chosen to pack – your mileage may differ (see below) 🙂

Some people view the Camino as an opportunity to unplug from the world and escape the frenetic pace of contemporary society. Indeed some are critical of those who stay in touch through social media. For me, social media provides a means for my family and friends to follow our progress; and a chance for me to share with others this great experience – and perhaps inspire others to consider walking their own Camino.

One of my passions is photography. Most people take a phone/camera or small point-and-shoot camera. These can produce great images, especially in good light. But for me, they are not great in low light, and many interiors such as churches or museums challenge those cameras. So my one concession to weight is that I will be taking my DSLR camera, albeit with just one lens.

Pilgrims in past ages would travel from place to place and keep journals, write letters and maintain such communication as they could with those back home. So I see no contradiction in taking some light technology to help deepen the experience through providing access to information, translation of menus, or simple navigation, as well as to communicate with those close to me but distant geographically. For me, there is no distinction between a modern pilgrim asking for wifi and the medieval pilgrims who asked for paper and ink.

I hope this video helps others considering a long trek, such as the Camino – and I welcome comments here or below the video on YouTube 🙂

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INDEX – If you wish to follow our journey from the beginning, or jump in to any of the Camino posts,
here is a link to the index page – which can also be found in the navigation bar at the top of this blog

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