Today is Monday around noon. My weekdays follow a somewhat familiar pattern of waking up, some form of exercise, plus projects and daily household chores. The freshly cut bamboo pole is now waiting to become my new hiking pole and self-defense weapon. A smaller grandchild version you might ask? Don’t get Patti started.
This past Saturday, the start of my first official twelve-mile hike with the So Cal Camino hiking group (Facebook So Cal Camino hiking group for further info) The Camino Frances is a 483 or 790 km walk across northern Spain. It takes around four weeks to complete. The Camino Frances i.e. Camino de Santiago (same hike) starts in France (St. Jean/Roncesvalles) and ends in Santiago, Spain. Watch the movie, “The Way” for a hollywood version.
In 2001, I attempted a thru hike of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) right after retirement. A thru hike is where one starts and finishes the trail in one complete season. The PCT is a 2,650 mile hike from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. At the 701 mile mark I called it quits at Yosemite (Kennedy Meadows); hikers could not continue even if they wanted to as a result of the worse snow pack year in ten years. After over a week of waiting for the trail to open some hikers stayed while others skirted around a major PCT section, and still others like myself searched for and moved on to new adventures. (Visit http://www.trailjournals.com/trawlercat for my daily PCT journal) If you are going to challenge yourself then why not do it all the way.
To do any long distance hike there is an inner and an outer form of preparation that needs to take place. The outer form includes the physical training and planned equipment to carry or use. The inner or mental state for some is usually the harder part of the preparation phase. It becomes far easier when one is passionate about the project or life in general. So why am I doing this hike? If you already researched the camino then you will know that it has existed for over 1,000 years. The journey for some is religious or spiritual. For me, the Camino de Santiago is a way to honor the memory of my recently departed mother.
We all have the same amount of time in the world. No one gets more or less; the difference is in how we choose to spend it. My spiritual and physical well-being was already tested on the PCT; I’m looking forward to this new pilgrims path to stretch and expand my soul. A way to gain further understanding and knowledge. And now I leave you with the following words from William Ward.
“To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.
To weep is to risk being called sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To try is to risk failure
But risks must be taken.
Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing may avoid suffering and sorrow.
But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow or really live.
Chained by their servitude they are slaves who have forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is truly free.