Random Fact: I never met a free sticker I didn't like 😂😂 This isn't even the entire collection! Guess I will be buying a new Nalgene to have a place for all of these suckers!
I am officially a 2,000 - miler! Now my only question is, "Do I embrace my inner geek and hang this up on a wall!?"
I think I will hang it on the fridge... for now. ;)
Here I am on day 14 - arriving at Castrojeriz with 469.4km (291.7 miles) left until I reach the end of my journey to Santiago. The last two weeks have been filled with walking, new friends, and taking in the sights and history of Spain. I have had an interesting time trying to change my hiking mindset from "long-distance AT hike" to "modern-day pilgrim", and many of my Appalachian Trail friends have asked me what I think of the Camino. I hope some of this information helps answer your questions.
Disclaimer: I am on a hostel apple computer - so this will be a quick post!
- The first few days in the Pyrenees felt like being on the AT again! Challenging climbs with great views as your reward. Once out of the Pyrenees the landscape is more farmland, rolling hills, or flat. You are hopping from town to town, and mainly walking on paved or gravel roads. I have found this to be harder on my knees than the trails of the AT. This forced me to buy trekking poles. And a knee brace.
- People! There are always people walking with you or near you the entire day. At first, I was set in my Ninja ways, trying to hike it fast and solo. Now I welcome the slower pace and great company to share the day. There is such a diverse popluation of pilgrims walking the Camino - all ages, male and female, pilgrims from Spain, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Hungary, Canada, Mexico, USA, and everywhere else!
- On the Camino I only packed snacks, and carry about a liter of water on average. There always seems to be a town with a water fountain to stop, eat and refill. The one thing that has not changed is water treatment. If I get water from the fountains or hostels I immediately chemically treat the water. Many pilgrims keep buying water bottles out of fear and others drink it straight out of the fountain with no problem! But treating the water works for me.
- I have loved the sights along the countryside and in town. I geek out at the sights of ruins or of a giant cathedral in the city. You almost feel a link to the pilgrims that walked the Camino centuries ago when you gaze up at the awe inspiring cathedrals that mark each town.
- Hostels! Every night I have stayed in a hostel, and I feel so spoiled. Showers ever day and a bed to sleep in at night. No hanging bear bags or waiting to do laundry every five or six days. I smell way too clean and my phone is always charged.
- We do not talk mileage. We talk days. Most of us have the same 33 day plan, so it cracks me up when we say only 19 days left without a breakdown of the miles!
- No emotional roller coaster... yet. On the AT, you have months to go through all kinds of different feelings. Here on the Camino I feel like I am on a backpacking holiday - you have the stability of a town every day with WiFi, and you never go too long without running into a friend. Early on, I seemed to get over any second guessing my motivation to hike or missing my family. In that sense, last year on the AT makes me feel like an old pro on the Camino.
- My advice? The heat on the Camino can be rough. One word - sunscreen. Also, try to get out early so you can be in your final town by noon.
Overall, it has been a great time thus far on the Camino! I really have enjoyed the trip so far. You cant really compare the experience to the AT - they are so different from each other! Hope to post more soon.
For my friends and family that do not know - my foot is healed and I am off to hike the Camino de Santiago with my friend, Jennifer! Your response may be, "But, Kaylan! What about finishing the AT?" Don't worry, I will tackle that when I get back.
The following is a short breakdown of the Camino de Satiago's history, our hiking route, and my personal packing list:
A Brief History:
El Camino de Santiago - or, "The Way of Saint James" - is a pilgrimage ending in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. For over a thousand years Christians have made the trek to the Cathedral of Santiago, which is rumored to have the remains of Saint James, an apostle of Jesus Christ. Saint James spread the word of Christianity in Galicia. Saint James eventually returned to Jerusalem in 42 AD only to be beheaded by Herod, securing his spot in history as a religious martyr. His body was brought back to Spain by his disciples and buried in what is now Santiago. In medieval times walking the Camino was a great way to have your sins forgiven without penance. Today pilgrims hike the Camino for many reasons, both of religious and secular origins.
There are many paths you can choose to hike - the Camino Portugues, Camino del Norte, Camino del Salvador, and so on. We have chosen the "French Way", traveling through northern Spain to reach Santiago. This is considered a more traditional route. It is 776km (482.3 miles) long and starts in St. Jean Pied De Port, France, crossing into Spain on day one through the Pyrenees.
Packing/What to Bring:
So lets get one thing straight... I feel like I am glamping (glamorous camping), minus the camping! I will get to hike from town to town, with no tent, staying in hostels nightly. Compared to the AT this will be like a spa weekend that may or may not have (ahem) a few bed bugs (a growing problem on the Camino). That being said, this packing list includes way more luxury items than I would bring on any other long distance hike:
- Backpack (35L GoLite)
- Camino Guide Book and Spanish Language Book
- Phone, phone charger, and adapter
- Crappy $1 flip flops for showers or letting my feet rest
- Trail Runners (Brooks Cascadia 10)
- Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Liner with Insect Shield
- Cocoon travel pillow (luxury)
- REI MultiTowel (Double luxury! I have a towel for showers which means I get regular showers!)
- Rain Jacket
- Down Jacket (just in case)
- Tank top and Short Sleeve Ibex Shirt
- Shorts and one long pair of pants that has the ability to become shorts
- Patagonia Hiking Dress/Town Dress (I know, I know - we will see how that goes)
- Bathing Suit (partay! and one hundred percent unnecessary)
- Sports Bra
- 2 Underwear
- 2 Socks
- 2 1L Platypus Bladders for water and hose
- Toiletries, small brush, sunscreen, Tylenol, birth control, tampons, and various other girly crap
- Zpack Dry Bags
- Cooking Pot and Fork (I have ditched these items which I may regret if wanting to cook on my own)
And that is about it!
Check back here or on Instagram for more updates on my Camino adventure!
Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill has a series of amazing events year-round. From yoga to live music, bee keeping class to home brewing. Rob and I were lucky enough to take their Foraging 101 class, and we had a blast. I was drawn to the class by my love for hiking and my ignorance of all things plants. When I hike, I find myself wondering about each plant I pass and wishing I could identify them all. I also have a unsubstantiated fear of getting lost in the wild, and thought it would be a good idea to identify wild edibles to help me survive.
We left home and drove the hour from Lexington to Shaker Village. We arrived at the class to find people from all over Kentucky ready to forage! The class started with an intro to wild mushrooms. Then, we jumped right into tasting foods foraged from the grounds of Shaker Village. Our instructor, Merin, cooked chopped salad, stir fried greens, pine needle tea, and garlic mustard pesto. My favorite was the pine needle tea and the garlic mustard pesto. We learned that garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is an invasive species and that we would be doing the state a favor by picking it for our dinner. You can find the recipe for garlic mustard pesto at the bottom of this post, courtesy of Merin at Shaker Village!
After a lunch break, we were able to go on a hike and forage in the varied landscapes afforded on the Shaker Village wildlife refuge. We avoid foraging near a road, highly populated area, or under power lines (they spray under power lines). We identified what to eat, and what to avoid (like Socrates's favorite, poison hemlock). In addition to garlic mustard, we identified clovers, wild onion, ferns, miami mist, dandelion, chickweed, violets, mallow, and many others. Overall, I was extremely happy with the class. Even more so after my most recent local hike - I recognized many of the plants along the way, enriching the experience even more!
Garlic Mustard Pesto Recipe:
- Garlic Mustard Leaves
- Parmesan Cheese (grated)
- Olive Oil
Instructions: Rinse all plants, pat dry with cloth. Remove leaves from stems. Finely chop garlic mustard leaves and add to bowl. Add olive oil and parmesan cheese until desired mixture is reached. Add salt and lemon to taste if desired. Place on bread and enjoy!
If you are interested in learning more about foraging here are a few resources recommended by our instructor:
- Mushrooms of West Virginia and The Central Appalachians (Book)
- Audubon Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America (Book)
- Peterson’s Guide to Wild Plants
- Peterson’s Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs
Upcoming Workshops at Shaker Village:
Intro to Beekeeping: http://shakervillageky.org/event/introduction-to-beekeeping-2/
Herbs for Home & Health: http://shakervillageky.org/event/herbal-health-2/
Beeswax Soap & Candle Making: http://shakervillageky.org/event/beeswax-candle-and-soap-making/