Feb 18, 2020 at 11:14 am #3631944
Camino De Santiago
Has anyone done this route in Spain, CS French Way? I am trying to get a little perspective from anyone who can comment or has experienced the Camino pilgrimage through Spain. I initially started making plans last year after I had some serious health issues. I decided this would be a good way for me to comeback to hiking at the same time still recovering. Looking at the elevation gain and loss, it is relatively flat and the bonus would be that my gear load would be minimal. After spending a lot of time researching I’ve noticed unfortunately, there is quite a bit of road walking. I’d love to find out a percentage on that. I recently found a very different video from what I’ve been looking at on YouTube that goes through the first stage starting a Saint Jean. The majority of the Pyrenees is on a paved asphalt road. I have to admit I was a bit deflated when seeing the traffic, maybe I’m missing something and was hoping to get another point if view, maybe shed some light for me as I continue to make my plans. Part of me says go for it and if it’s not working out like I had envisioned, make a plan B. Anyhow, I welcome any comment good, bad or indifferent.
PamFeb 18, 2020 at 2:39 pm #3631979Brad PBPL Member
Dixie just did with her sister.Feb 18, 2020 at 8:21 pm #3632037
Thanks Brad for that info. Just binge watched the whole series. That Dixie has a winning way with telling a story and still plenty of useful info as well.Feb 18, 2020 at 9:20 pm #3632045
I see it as a matter of perspective:
“I’m walking on a road instead of a wilderness trail.”
”I’m walking through rural Spain with centuries of history and culture instead of walking past a Walmart and a Dunkin Donuts back home.”Feb 19, 2020 at 9:52 am #3632112
Thanks Brad. I watched this a few weeks ago and enjoyed her take on it.Feb 19, 2020 at 10:00 am #3632113
What great way to put it in perspective for me! I’ve been spoiled by nature and was only comparing with that…as my background noise at the moment is overwhelmed by leaf blowers.
Thank you David for the reality check!
pamFeb 19, 2020 at 12:28 pm #3632129Brad PBPL Member
Thanks Brad. I watched this a few weeks ago and enjoyed her take on it.
She had 1 video that’s specifically a lessons learned vid. I like that she will say what worked for her, what didn’t and reasons why others might have a different experience under different circumstances/preferences.
It very clearly more of a cultural journey than experiencing nature out in the middle of nowhere. There are things to be enjoyed in both.Feb 19, 2020 at 1:07 pm #3632136Ken LarsonBPL Member
@kenlarsonLocale: Western Michigan
I think you will find this to your liking…
ANDFeb 19, 2020 at 2:27 pm #3632154
i think my biggest struggle has been the though of hiking up a mountain on paved assault while dodging cars. I assumed from what read specifically in a couple of books that these would be on dirt paths which I had envisioned. I definitely didn’t mind walking through historical old villages the way the pilgrims did. I suppose over time it become more commercialized and therefore these paved roads and road walking portions are part of it. In my mind it would be like the John Muir Trail putting down assault road because of the sheer volume of hikers on the trail.Feb 19, 2020 at 2:39 pm #3632158
Thank you posting Ken. I’ll read Both his journals.Feb 19, 2020 at 4:16 pm #3632168
Realize that Europeans are experienced with whole spectrum of roads: country roads shared with farmers, back alleys, city streets, thoroughfares, all the way to autobahns with no speed limits. So the local drivers are used to dealing with hikers and goats and horse carts on those rural roads and ESPECIALLY on any of the Caminos, they’re used to clueless pilgrim tourists.
Even in more wilderness settings, like some of New Zealand “Great Walks”, I’ve enjoyed chatting with other hikers from around the world (or the next town) and any of the Casinos certainly offer as much of that as you would like.Feb 20, 2020 at 3:07 pm #3632292
Thank you for writing it has given me something to think about and has definitely changed my thought process. I wanted to share the link for the video I was talking about. It shows the first day of the Camino starting in St Jean Pied du Port.
https://youtu.be/kLMyWudsSXQFeb 20, 2020 at 3:29 pm #3632296
Pam, I see how that stage is, yeah, pretty heavy on the road walks (and of course, that’s how pilgrims have traveled the route for centuries). There are some stretches where it’s even more of a thoroughfare with (thankfully with a separate trail alongside) noisy, high-speed vehicle traffic.
I normally hate my headlamp or key light light to have a flashy mode because I never use them. There, maybe having that option (or one of those flashy lights given to trick-or-treaters), could be nice if you end up doing one stage well into the night (or are returning to a hostel after a nice dinner and drinks in town).
Normally, I’m a low-visual-impact hiker – I tend towards browns and greens in my clothing, pack and tent so as not to be an eyesore to others, but going towards a bright yellow or orange on the back of your pack might be a bit safer on those shared roads.
Even European mountain trails are a whole different experience. Take a hiking trail to the top of a small mountain in Germany and you’re likely to find a viewing tower and cafe at the summit where you can order a latte, wine, or light meal. In the Italian and Swiss Alps, you can be a full day’s travel in and there’s a refuge offering bunks, a meal plan, a full bar and small store.
It reminds me of a friend, her first time in Yosemite, debating between Half Dome and Glacier Point as a serious day hike. A friend convinced her that Glacier Point had better views of the Valley and the rock features like El Captain so she dutifully hiked up the 4,000 vertical feet only to be disappointed by the parking lot, gift shop and cafe on top and all the tourists in plaid pants and white leather shoes who had driven to the same place she worked so hard to get to. OTOH, knowing it’s like that makes it not so disappointing and you can saunter up to all the clean tourists as a dusty, stinky hiker and let THEM share some of YOUR experience.Feb 20, 2020 at 6:52 pm #3632339
We have not hiked the Camino as it has a reputation of being quite busy with other pilgrims and having a significant amount of walking on pavement. Take a look at the published walker numbers on the Wikipedia entry.
We have completed over fifteen multi-week long distance walks in Europe on other routes and have enjoyed them immensely. Almost any long distance walk there will have some pavement, but most are not crowded in the least. Part of the enjoyment of this type of walk is passing through a cultural landscape that has been settled for thousands of years, so don’t let the lack of a wilderness experience discourage you from going.
Spain and France both have a huge network of developed and marked routes, so you could do a little research and see what options there are to the Camino that might appeal to you. For instance, if you want a very level walk, the Nantes to Brest Canal Path might be a good option. The walking is Europe is very fine, so pick something and go.
James (and Amy)Feb 20, 2020 at 7:06 pm #3632347
Thanks to this thread I’ve been doing some video touring of the various routes and the northern route looks like less road walking and/or the roads are very lightly traveled single track. This is a link to a short and kind of quirky video that shows highlights of the route as far as Bilbao; Camino Del Norte to Bilbao Since the start and finish of each day’s leg was named it was easy to check it on Google Maps. This other one has beautiful photography. The hiker is evidently from Romania. I was a little confused by his label as “the Patriot” Camino Del Norte with Drone Photography
Some of this route dates from Roman times or even earlier. At the height of the last ice age this region was one of the only ice free areas in Europe. About the only humans left in Europe lived here. Their culture which is called the Solutrean Culture created the art in the Lascaux Caves and may have reached the western hemisphere (a very contentious issue!) Solutrean Hypothesis
There are also some really old Celtic cultural relics like stone rings etc. (like smaller versions of Stone Henge) Celtic Archaeology Northern Spain and they are still playing the bagpipes in this region. Of course the whole target destination is the grave site of the half brother of Jesus (different Dads!) so lots of history! A possible downside to this route is that the Hostels may be a little further apart.
This kind of tugs at my heart-strings as when I was younger I was lucky enough to spend a month in Biarritz and saw some of the first part of this route. It’s really beautiful country and a beautiful coastline. The closest thing to it I’ve seen in the US is the area @ Monterey or Point Reyes.Feb 20, 2020 at 7:57 pm #3632352Feb 21, 2020 at 9:53 am #3632425
I haven’t taken a look at yet but thank you for posting the links. Video touring has been my pass time lately while trying to nail this down. I have been looking at the Camino Primitivo which seems a bit less crowded but more elevation gain and loss which I was trying to avoid. At any rate I’ve already purchased my flight and have a few hotels booked and paid for the start of my trek. I have the flexibility to reroute a bit, so I’m still adjusting. Thank you for the input!Feb 21, 2020 at 10:05 am #3632427
Do you mind sharing some of your favorite multi-week long hikes that you did in Europe? I will look up the one you had suggested. Since, I’m booked for Spain I like to have a backup plan if I’m overwhelmed by volume of pilgrims.
I did the Tour du Mont Blanc two years ago with both my children which I really enjoyed. Thought about the possibility of the Haute route but it might be a little too aggressive for me right now.Feb 21, 2020 at 3:19 pm #3632493German TouristBPL Member
@germantouristLocale: in my tent
I am German and have hiked over 25,000 kilometers in Europe. The Spanish Caminos are by far the worst hiking I have ever done in my entire hiking career. Both Camino Frances and Camino del Norte are over commercialized and over crowded. Over 70% is on concrete and you’ll walk through endless industrial suburbs.
If you absolutely insist on a pilgrimage trail, do the GR 65 Via Podiensis in France.
If you want to hike in Spain check out these two trails which both have English websites:Feb 22, 2020 at 10:56 am #3632643
Thank you for your honest opinion and recommendations it’s very much appreciated! It’s hard to find an opinion/perspective from a backpackers point of view that has had firsthand experience. My situation is difficult this year as I would like to go backpacking but cannot carry my normal amount of gear…even at the lightest weight. I will have to carry the equivalent of a day pack while I build my strength. Also elevation gain and loss will have to be kept to a minimum. Staying home isn’t an option as I love backpacking and trying to find another way this year. I am scheduled to do the West Highland Way as a warmup.
Thanks Again!Feb 22, 2020 at 2:57 pm #3632682Roger CaffinModerator
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I will have to carry the equivalent of a day pack while I build my strength.
That is actually what the most European walkers do. A day pack with a warm change of clothing for the evening, a sleeping bag liner (mandatory), a towel and a toothbrush, a water bottle, a jacket (absolute must), and a credit card. Then Refuge to Refuge as long as you like. The Refuges can usually provide a cut lunch.
CheersFeb 22, 2020 at 6:46 pm #3632732
Two things: your request about info on our European hikes. This can be found on our website: Doingmiles.com We have not written up all of our walks yet, but there is a good selection. Most are not appropriate for what you say your are looking for, but you can get a sense of walking opportunities over there. Via the site you can send us a PM and we could have an off-line conversation.
Second: we have corresponded with Christine “German Tourist” for years. She is absolutely the real thing and her advice should be strongly considered to be as good as it gets.
James (and Amy)Feb 22, 2020 at 7:41 pm #3632737
Another note; perhaps you are aware of this, but you mentioned wanting minimal altitude gain and loss. The West Highland Way has about 14,000 feet of gain and an equal amount of loss over its 92 miles. This works out to about 145 feet of gain per mile.
We have walked this route and while it was pleasant, we did not find it outstanding. We have enjoyed other walks in the UK more than the West Highland Way
James (and Amy)Feb 23, 2020 at 6:54 pm #3632914
One of a regular treasures chest of trip reports.Feb 23, 2020 at 11:55 pm #3632950
Thanks you for the data on the WHW. I looked all that up before I made my plans and found it to be short enough for my teenage son while being able to do a tour of the Scotland highlands for a couple of weeks. We did the Tour Du Monte Blanc last year and I believe this hike is much easier. I’ve got the c2c on my radar for next year!
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