In May of 2013 we started  the Camino de Santiago by walking 119 miles (192 km) in 11 days from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to Nájera, Spain. On that 11th day, we walked into Nájera, right up to the bus station, and took a bus about an hour and a half to the big city of Burgos. From there we made our way down to Madrid and flew home. This Friday we’re doing the reverse: we’ll fly to Madrid, take a bus up to Burgos and stay the night there, and then make our way to Nájera on Sunday morning. When we arrive at the Nájera bus station, we’ll get our second Nájera stamp in our Camino passport, and begin walking!
After a long year of waiting, I can’t believe it’s less than a week away! This time last year we were excited and nervous, wondering how everything would go in Spain. Wondering if we had the right gear and wondering if we could walk the distances we’d need to walk each day. This year all the nervousness is gone — we know what we need to take and we know our training worked last time.
Our training plan  from last year worked so well that we repeated it again this year. For the last four months we’ve been walking each weekend, slowly building up our time and distance to the point where we can walk four hours, three days in a row, with our packs on.
Surprisingly, we found that quite a few people start their Camino without any training at all. If the first couple of weeks don’t kill them, and they don’t get injured, they usually end up getting used to it and make it ok. But with all of Kathey’s triathlon training, we wanted a more structured approach, so we’re probably on the opposite end of the scale approaching over-training. We seemed to have an easier time of it in Spain than a lot of people had though, so that’s fine with us.
The only problem is that doing the Camino across multiple years like this means having to do that long training plan at least three times. After just finishing this year’s training, I’m not looking forward to having to do it again next year — fortunately we have a trip to beautiful Spain in between each one. ;-)
Our packing list  from last year worked pretty well too, but since we had so much rain last year, I replaced a couple of items. First, I got a much more high-tech Columbia rain jacket , and this one has “full seam sealing “, so all the zippers are covered by a type of plastic tape.
Also, I used running shoes last year, and they actually worked great except when we were walking through mud and water — which happened a lot — because the water came right in through all the mesh. This year I’m taking Gore-Tex running shoes  that are waterproof to the top of the laces, and that should give me the same clearance above the water as I’d get from a low-top hiking boot.
We’re also both taking the rain pants that Colm and Cora gave us on the Camino last year. We discovered that all you really need are super lightweight pants that will keep you dry without making you hot. The ones I’m using are the Regatta Packaway ll Waterproof Over Trouser  but if you’re in the USA you may have better luck finding something similar like the Sierra Designs Men’s Microlight 2 Pant .
Last year it never rained during any of our training hikes but it rained ten out of the eleven days we were in Spain. This year it rained on us a lot while we were training, so that should mean it’ll be blue skies and sunshine the entire time we’re in Spain — right?
This year we managed to rope in a couple of
suckers friends of ours from Sweden. ;-) We traveled with Ted and Lisa once before on a trip to Alaska and had a great time, and we’re looking forward to having them with us for this year’s trip — if for no other reason, because Kathey and I have run out of things to talk about while walking. ;-)
It all starts back up again on Sunday, June 1st in Nájera  — here we go!