Training for the Camino.


Don’t be fooled by this shot. Those hills are steeper than you think.

Training for the Camino has been fun and sometimes a challenge. It has also been good exercise. Yesterday’s hike was a challenging exercise in perseverance. Fun was not part of the equation.

Starting at an elevation of four hundred feet I hiked up to three thousand. I’d like to say that the agony didn’t begin until the last five hundred feet, but honestly, those last two thousand feet were killer. Staggering to the top I met a mountain biker who was surprised to see me coming up the “roller coaster” and asked why I climbed the hard way. “Training”, I said, out of breath. My ego wouldn’t let me admit that I didn’t know there was an easy way up. We had a nice chat before he took off down the “roller coaster”.

Me? I went down the easy route which turned out to be just as hard as going up; the only difference being that it was lickety split! My shoes were properly laced for a descent but one toe kept bumping the end of the shoe and that was a very bad thing. Insult to injury, I took two, count ’em, two, tumbles on the way down. The first one gave my knee a good bang, but was nothing serious. The second tumble was really dramatic. I started sliding through lots of loose rock and in a flash I knew I’d reached the point of no recovery. By tossing aside my hiking sticks I managed to avoid a face plant and had a good lesson in what happens when my center of gravity is elevated by a 14 pound back pack. Oh, what a dusty mess I was!

So, lessons learned on that training hike: 1. Pay attention to the contours on the topo maps, and more importantly; 2. Switch to hiking sandals for the descents. (No, it’s not about wearing bigger shoes, I’ve tried dozens of pairs. Unfortunately, it’s about the design of my darn Dutch feet!)

Back home eleven and a half miles later, I was tired but felt great about the hike. Now I know that the elevation changes on the Camino are absolutely managable. Yes!

UPDATE: I have nine really good-looking toenails. We won’t talk about that other one…