When I selected the Camino as my 2016 hike, it was by process of elimination. Hiking while I’m healthy is very important to me, but most of the long-distance hikes on my bucket list were off-limits after what had been a rather Lymey spring: I didn’t have the strength for long resupplies, high altitude trails would tax my bartonella-infected bone marrow, and I wasn’t in a hurry to hike a remote trail and find myself reenacting Escape from the High Sierra (Part I or II).
And so, I chose the Camino, where I knew I was likely to carry a light backpack, stay at low elevations, and be near other walkers. I was thrilled about the excuse to travel overseas, but I wasn’t tremendously excited about walking the Camino. I realized that doing so was a privilege — but I also thought of it as a confidence booster after the bad combination that was the PCT and Lyme, rather than an adventure in its own right.
While preparing for the trip, I read Camino trip reports and guidebooks, none of which made me especially enthused and some of which, like this scathing review, made me wonder whether I’d made a mistake in planning to walk the historic pilgrimage route.
Rereading that review now is actually trying because of how much it seems to me that the author missed the point. My Camino — a squiggly yellow arrow of six different routes forming a continuous footpath from Lescar, France, to the Spanish coast, and then back to Santiago — was absolutely awe-inspiring. It was different, special, magical, humbling, and absolutely transformative, in the way no other hike since my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail has been for me.
I’m looking forward to sharing my impressions and favorite memories of the pilgrimage here.