In seventy-seven sleeps I’ll be departing for Spain, and so will begin my efforts to cross off the number one item on my travel bucket list — hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I have seventy-seven nights to psych myself up for what will surely prove to be the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.
My flight is booked, I’ve started to gather together my gear, and I’ve even begun Spanish lessons. The preparation has begun!
So far I have my pack (my trusty sidekick, which has already been used to backpack throughout Italy and France and has also accompanied me across Canada), hiking boots, a small sleeping bag (P.S. Mom — I raided the camping gear closet), a poncho that’s big enough to cover my pack (March is one of the wettest months in the northwest region of Spain), hiking poles, a Victorinox pocket knife, and a digital watch (so I have an alarm to wake me up each morning). To top it all off I received my pilgrim’s passport and my pack patch from The Canadian Company of Pilgrims. I am officially registered with them as a pilgrim!
I still have some things to sort out, particularly deciding what clothes to bring with me. I’ll be using one of the first books I ever bought on the pilgrimage to help guide me in this category — Pilgrimage to the End of the World by Conrad Rudolph. This book is equal parts history lesson, travelogue, and hiking guide. I’ve read it countless times and it’s become my go-to reference for preparing for the hike.
There’s an entire section of the book dedicated to suggested packing lists — clothes, equipment, optional items and even items to avoid. Based on Rudolph’s suggestions I still need to gather:
- a light cotton hat (with a good visor for sun and rain)
- 1 pair of cotton hiking shorts
- 1 pair of long pants (no jeans)
- three cotton t-shirts
- 3 pairs of cotton underwear
- 2 or 3 pairs of boot socks (preferably of a wool, nylon, and Lycra blend)
- a poly fleece sweater (with a fully zippered front)
- a hooded windbreaker (made of Gore-Tex, with a fully zippered front)
- a 1 1/2 litre water bottle
- a small towel
- a travel toothbrush and tiny tube of toothpaste
- bar soap
- shampoo (I might try out a bar shampoo from Lush Cosmetics for this trip)
- concentrated laundry soap for travellers
- lip balm
- a small amount of toilet paper in a small plastic bag (cardboard roll discarded)
- a comb
- nail clippers
- small, light scissors (for cutting Moleskin and Second Skin, i.e. blister fighters and healers. I’m going to rely on the scissors in my Victorinox for this)
- 1 package of Moleskin
- 1 package of Second Skin
- some Band-Aids
- a safety-pin and a book of matches (for blisters…yuck)
- a small plastic spoon (in case I decide to eat yogurt on route…this is an actual suggestion)
- waterproofer for boots
- a pen whose ink won’t run when wet
Optional items include:
- sunglasses (these are actually a must for me because my eyes are super light-sensitive)
- a penlight-sized flashlight
- sunblock (this should be a must, not a suggestion)
- 15 feet of thin, light cord to be used as a clothesline, and 6 clothespins
- a needle and a few yards of strong thread
- antibiotic ointment
- very light sandals
- a small notebook for writing (for me, this is a definite must)
- camera (I’m actually thinking about lugging along my Canon Rebel)
- ibuprofen (another must for me — light sensitivity leads to headaches, and I’m prone to a suffer from a nasty migraine about twice a year)
He also suggests that if we don’t think we’ll have the discipline to wash our clothes every night (something which I’ve read is a common routine once you settle into your pilgrim’s hostel each day), to bring one more set of t-shirt, underwear and socks. I think I’ll pack everything first to see how heavy my backpack is before I decide on whether or not to do this.
So it looks like I still have a number of items to get, but thankfully I have about two and a half months to finish my preparations. I’ll also be wearing my hiking boots to ensure they’re properly broken in, with my upcoming trip to New York City acting as a perfect opportunity to start.
I still can’t believe this is a reality for me now. Booking my flight made me realize that this dream of mine is no longer just a dream, and in just a few short months I’ll actually be in Spain, hiking the Camino. I’m equally scared shitless and excited, though after writing this post I’m more leaning towards the scared shitless side of things.
Only seventy-seven more sleeps.