“The first day is the hardest day,” are the words spoken by nearly everyone who has walked the Camino. And after that 27 km (16 mile) hike that was pretty much all uphill, I believed them. It’s nearly impossible to train for something like this unless you enjoy the torture of walking around like a heavy pack on for no reason. So you are forced to pretty much just dive in and let your body adapt to the extra weight.
Throughout the walk I began to second guess everything in my bag and try to determine if it was actually essential. They heaviest things were, in a way, the most important things; Laptop, tripod, DSLR camera, extra lenses: pretty much everything I needed to document my trip. I struggled a lot with the idea of shipping all these things home to go even more minimalist and drastically reduce the weight of my bag. But, I strongly believe in the idea that if you are going to live an exciting life then it is selfish not to share your experiences. Hence, why I have this website. Like everything in life, I looked at the glass half full: sure I had a heavy bag but all this meant is that my legs, my back, my body would become that much stronger.
I remember my roommate back in Austin, whom did the Camino years prior, telling me “soon your backpack will become a part of you and you won’t even feel it.” And honestly, she was right.
Walking around previous cities with my pack on I remember thinking, how the hell am I going to walk 500 miles with this thing?! But, what I didn’t take into account was the beautiful scenery I would be experiencing.
The higher I climbed the more beautiful things became. All the steep rolling hills were mesmerizing to my eyes until the point that I got so high that I was actually in the clouds. Then I couldn’t see anything. This became a clever game between me and the path. I could only see about 30 meters ahead of me so I had no idea when the hill would end or what direction it would take. And every time, without fail, it would just keep going up until I finally reached the top at about 1,515 meters (nearly 5,000 feet).
I must say I didn’t really mind the hours of slow moving up hill walking especially once I hit the decent. It was much steeper and much more abusing to the body. The constant slamming of each foot sent the shock directly to my knees. I grabbed a branch from the forest to help break each step which helped a little. But for the most part it was a fairly painful experience.
I finally arrived at the next town and booked a room in the giant dormitory hostel. 10 euros for a bed and 10 euros for dinner, keeping me right in line with my 25 euros a day budget.
The dinner I was most impressed with. For only 10 euros I got a three course meal: pasta, fish, salad, and rice pudding for dessert. Oh, and, did I mention, some delicious red wine as well.
I spent the entire day with a friend I made at the hostel the night before. Josh, from Baltimore, also around my age and also doing the Camino for the same reason: not having a clue as to what to do with life.
Hopefully, throughout this path, we can both figure it out.