Preparation and planning is essential for any adventurous undertaking. In effect I have been planning and preparing myself for the Camino since last August and am now in the last stages of it all.
It started with the purchase of hiking boots in August and since then I have used the offers and sales in my local outdoor clothing shop to buy the very latest high tech clothing and a decent sized rucksack. Today I have had another session of packing the gear and weighing it. I discovered that I could save 20 grams in weight between certain T-shirts for example. All along I have been aiming at getting my rucksack not to weigh more than 15 kilos, including the camera iPad and full water bottle! My ideal would be 12 kilos.
I am well aware that conventional wisdom says no more than 10 kilos and some advocate only 10% of body weight. The latter is harsh and since one can expect to loose up to 10 kilos in body weight on the journey, not practical.
During my time as a mountaineering instructor at a Junior Infantrymen's Battalion I used to carry at least 30 kilos up and down the mountains. This included part of a two man tent and rations/water for five days at a time, though. Now in my planning none of this is necessary. Nor do I have to lug the heavy Army issue kit either. All my kit is light and doubly effective. Yet even so getting it all down to the ideal limit is hard.
A good friend was so concerned about the weight that he has lent me his Lumix DMC TZ31 camera. I hate to admit it, but in weight alone this camera saves me well over 1300 grams and it is probably closer to two kilos when I consider the spare batteries and charging unit, each of which is lighter than my NIKON version.
The other part of my preparation has been training to walk the distance with the weight and of course, care of my feet. After all my feet are what will carry me the distance. Although I am infantry by training, I can't say that I have looked after my feet very well over the years.
During the circumnavigation I went bare foot and built up a thick layer of hard dead skin on the soles and edges of my feet. I remember well when Hanna and I met in Sri Lanka during this time, that she had real problems in the temples going barefoot as the stone and rock was so hot! I on the other hand never felt a thing!
The other day I gave myself a decent foot bath and scrubbed off all or most of the hard skin. Two days ago I treated myself to a session with a chiropodist. This was fun and my feet felt like new afterwards, so much so that I have booked two more sessions before I depart.
The other part of my preparation has been to try and learn some Spanish and to this end I have started a short course. I have also found an App to download onto my phone, which may help. Mind you there are some phrases they suggest under the heading of flirting that I will not be using!!
Next week I start stage two of my training and will set off to walk to Kleve. I shall walk about 20 kilometres each day and return by train on Friday. I hope the weather is kind, but am happy for it to rain, so that I can test out my poncho and other rain gear. I shall also attempt to Blog via iPad as part of the exercise as well as take pictures with the borrowed camera.
If this part of my preparation goes well and I enjoy it, always the deciding factor, I may well consider similar walk-abouts in March.