Only ten more sleeps before I leave for Spain and I finally think I’ve gotten everything I need for the trek. I’m all packed and ready to go, and for once in my life my packing is finished more than two days before I depart.
Once again, here’s the packing/gear list I’ve been following, as suggested by Conrad Rudolph in Pilgrimage to the End of the World. As you can see, all items are now crossed out (Note: items in bold didn’t need to be purchased as I already had them on hand, and items in italics weren’t needed after all — I’ll explain this one below):
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 ibuprofen acetaminophen 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 sunglasses (these are actually a must for me because my eyes are super light-sensitive) a penlight-sized flashlight sunblock 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 camera
A couple of months ago I did a very silly thing. Still in need of a pair of hiking boots, I bought a set of KEEN Glarus from Mountain Equipment Coop. A week later I returned them because I was short on money and it was the holiday season. A few weeks after that, still in need of the most essential item of my hike, I went on eBay and purchased a used set of Woolrich women’s boots. They were barely used (the soles didn’t even have dirt on them) and were about half the cost of the KEENs. They were also half a size larger than my regular shoe size, which is ideally what you should get to allow for foot swelling and thick, wool hiking socks. I also loved the fact that the Woolrich label on the tongue had my tartan on it. Ya, I’m a sucker.
I wore them in New York during my one-day stint there over the holidays, and by the time I got home I could barely walk. I quickly learned that they’re heavy and pinch the top of my left foot. I’ve worn them a couple of times to work since, but a nagging worry has been eating at my mind that using them to hike the Camino would be a BAD decision and a mistake that could cost me a number of blisters and sore feet. So, a few days ago I repurchased my KEENs, and now I don’t need the waterproofer because they are in fact already waterproofed. One less item for me to carry.
On top of the items on that list I also picked up/packed a few extra things:
- ear plugs
- an eye mask
- a stuff sack to compress all my clothing
- electrolyte enhanced drink tabs — these are actually awesome. They turn your water into a sports drink without sugar! I’m going to be drinking a ton of water, so I figured this will be a little treat.
- a dozen Clif Bars — this was a point of contention for me. They add extra weight to my pack, however I can have one a day as my breakfast and save on meals while in Spain. It’s a double-edged sword.
- my neoprene knee brace — in my youth I damaged my knees from playing volleyball and basketball. I’ve had this knee brace since I was thirteen, and I ain’t hiking nothing without it in my pack as a safeguard.
Here are all the toiletries. Notice the Spiderman toothbrush? Apparently the Dollarstore no longer sells those combo sets of a travel toothbrush/tube of toothpaste. I refuse to spend $5 on one from a big name store, so I just picked up a kids toothbrush and a tiny tube of toothpaste instead. Also, that pink hairbrush has Minnie Mouse on the back of it. I just found out. Seems like the only travel-sized items at the Dollarstore are kid-sized items. At least I may get a few laughs out of them.
Now, here’s everything condensed and compartmentalized:
And finally, I’m all packed:
I left out my boots, the fleece sweater, jacket, eye mask and watch as I’ll either be wearing those items or carrying them with me on the plane (this obviously also includes my passport and wallet, as well as a novel to read and my camera). I decided to travel in a pair of jeans so that I have some pants that are not hiking-related to wear on my off days.
The final weigh-in on my pack is eighteen pounds. And that’s with all of those Clif Bars and the actual weight of the bag itself! Huzzah! Honest to goodness, I’m pretty sure my purse weighs just about that on a daily basis. I tried on the pack and it felt comfy and manageable. I’m impressed.
There’s still one thing I haven’t yet mentioned which will be joining me on my trip. About a month ago my eldest cousin, Paul, gave me a proposition. He had recently found out about a satellite-enabled GPS device called the SPOT GEN3. He admitted that he wanted to buy it for me for the pilgrimage so the family could keep tabs on my location, however the cost of the device is two-fold and sort of costly; on top of the initial purchase cost you also have to activate a one year service plan. So, we brokered a deal. Paul paid for the device and I will cover the activation charges. I’ll openly admit right now that aside from allowing my family track my location, there’s an added benefit that sealed the deal for me — anyone can track my location online, meaning I could link it to this blog. You’re assigned your own page on their website which maps out your journeys. I can also send daily “I’m OK” texts to a list of cell phone numbers and even contact the local authorities with a press of a button. This device is a badass investment.
Once I’m all set up with the service plan I’ll write another post to share the details. I’m a little giddy about its functionality with my blog 🙂
Ten more work days and ten more sleeps to go. I’ve been working seven days a week for the past month, so Spain can’t come soon enough!