Today was Day 8 of our pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. It was a challenging day, and I am happy to report, it went wonderfully! Today’s walk was 18 miles. We started a little earlier than normal, (at 6:30am) and, as is always my experience when we start the day early, it was a brilliant idea.
We had most of the first 5 miles of today’s walk to ourselves, which is pretty amazing, considering we’re on the French Way, the most popular route of the Camino de Santiago. We’re closing in on the “finish” — Santiago – so there are many more pilgrims sharing the trail with us now. The trails and terrain today were fantastic. We didn’t really know what to expect, but I think it’s safe to say we were all pleasantly surprised. For the lion’s share of today’s walk, we enjoyed damp dirt trails that took us through lush green forests that provided a canopy (shade and protection from the hot sun), and we were surrounded by ferns and flowers for much of the route.
The boys did a phenomenal job. Most of us have challenges we’re dealing with by now. We have been walking with backpacks on for miles, day after day, after all, including a significant amount of it on sidewalks and/or hard surfaces. Wolf has a sore ankle, and has been battling allergies and a head cold since the start of our trip. He coughed most of last night and as a result, got little sleep. Hayden has a huge blister on each of his heels, which he popped with a sterile needle last night and we bandaged for today’s hike. The blisters are huge, and I know from personal “blistered feet” experience, that every one of his 45,000 steps today was painful. He also had sore achilles tendons early on, but fortunately those seem to be almost back to normal. Fin, well he’s 11 years old, and we’ve been walking for miles and miles, day after day. 🙂 As for Jerry, he is in great shape, and suffering no challenges other than having the role of Ring Leader for our Circus, and having to deal with all that job description entails. He deserves something significant for all of his efforts; I’m brainstorming that. 🙂 The boys were total CHAMPS today. They were in great spirits, and didn’t complain. They are great trail company and fun to be around. Jerry and I truly enjoy (most of! haha) our time with them. Sometimes we all hike together, but in silence. Other times some are talking and others aren’t. Other times we’re all in a conversation. Sometimes we’re hiking in a group, other times we’re all spread out. It doesn’t matter, and it always seems to be just right.
Last night at dinner, with the big mileage day ahead and the aforementioned personal challenges, I asked if we should consider “strategies.” One son offered, “I don’t know, maybe one strategy could be we walk?” And another chimed in, “Or we could just walk?” And then of course we all agreed we could just try walking, and if that didn’t work, we’d trying walking. LOL. (I know – other than amongst ourselves – we’re probably not very funny.)
Today, we met more interesting pilgrims! First of all, we met Jeff, from Reno, Nevada, who is a NOLS graduate. In fact, he has taken 3 NOLS courses. He is walking the entire Camino, as a pilgrimage, in part for his Catholic faith. He shared with me that he recently left his job of 10 years where he worked in energy efficiency for data companies like Google. Now, he’s got his own company that offers consulting in those areas, and he’s also doing work for the Catholic Church. He’s about to turn 40. He’s been walking about 50 kilometers a day. He says it has been a wonderful experience. He keeps thinking of the suffering the earliest pilgrims must have endured in their pilgrimages “They would leave their farm with nothing.” In those days, he said, if you got a blister and it got infected, you died. He says he has thought a lot about their suffering as he has followed in their historic footsteps. He is excited to meet his wife and two children at the end, in Santiago, in a couple of days, to celebrate. He is the first person we have met that knows where Lander, WY, is, and that has some mutual connections.
I also met Pierre, who is 74, and who is walking the Camino for his third time! The first time he walked it, he walked from his home in France, and his total pilgrimage from his home to Santiago was 1,800 kilometers! As we approached him on the trail this morning, one of our sons guessed he might be Bernie Sanders, but as it turned out, he wasn’t Bernie. (See the last photo in my photos to see Pierre.) I walked with Pierre for about a quarter-mile before he kissed me on each cheek, and yelled farewell.
I also met a woman who is from Madrid who is walking the Camino with her 78-year-old father. She knew little English, and I am not great at speaking Spanish, so we struggled in our conversation, although it was a very pleasant effort. She did ask if Jerry and the boys were mine (pointing ahead to my guys, she asked “Es Tu Familia? Los chicos? Cuatro?” and when I said, “Si! she exclaimed, ”You are a saint!” It was another unforgettable day, full of meaning, and rich, rich, rich time spent as a family.
We have two days left of walking before we arrive in Santiago on Saturday. Thank you so much for your thoughts, and for following along on our journey. It means a lot to us!
Related blog posts:
VIDEOS FROM DAY 8: