Homer's Travels: Camino 2013 - New Trails, New Stages, New Planning

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Camino 2013 - New Trails, New Stages, New Planning

The month of March is almost over and I think I need to start planning for my upcoming Camino.  Who am I kidding?  I've been planning for my second Camino since I got back from my first.  My planning started with deciding on a route.  I've already mentioned the new route in other posts a few times now but I have always been a bit repetitive.  Instead of starting in Saint Jean Pied de Port the "traditional" start of the Camino Frances as I did last time I will be starting in Oloron Sainte Marie, France a bit further south on a route known as the Arles route.  The Arles goes from Arles, France (naturally) to the Spanish border near Somport.  From there the route changes name to the Aragónes route named after the Aragón river it follows.

There are nine walking stages between Oloron Sainte Marie and Obanos close to where the Aragónes merges with the Frances route.  This stretch is said to be beautiful and rather solitary as few pilgrims take this route.  I will be walking with GV, who I met on my last Camino, so I won't be totally alone.  I think this will be a good start for my Camino giving me some quiet time on the trails before joining the throngs that walk the Frances every year.  Included on this section will be a detour to the San Juan de la Peña monastery.  We will be taking a bus, probably, from the city of Jaca to the monastery and then walking from the monastery back to the Camino.  This will give us time to explore the monastery and get some walking in.

The Aragónes route joins the Frances near the town of Obanos.  The way from Obanos to Santiago de Compostela is the same one that I walked last time.  Planning the stages on this part of the Camino has been challenging.  I am trying to satisfy a few criteria that GV and I have both agreed on:
  • First, avoid the larger cities.
  • Second, avoid as many of the places we stopped at last time.
  • Third, include some of our favorite stops as well as add a few we missed on the first Camino (places like Grañon and the monastery at Samos).
I started to put together a plan in November 2011.  It took me four versions before I had a set of stages that would meet most of the criteria.  This process was complicated by the fact that some albergues close for the winter and this had to be taken into account.

Late last year, a whole year after I'd put together version 4.0,  I took another look at the stages and generated version 5.0.  Last month I looked at the stages again and realized that my plans were too aggressive.  I had the opposite problem than last time when my planned stages were too conservative.  Back then I planned roughly thirty-five stages from Obanos to Santiago de Compostela.  In actuality I walked it in thirty (I actually bused two stages - this is included in the thirty).  Version 5.0 had me doing it in twenty-six.  I went back to the drawing board.

I am now on version 9.0.  The plan has twenty-eight stages between Obanos and Santiago de Compostela.  I'm stumbling my way to a more realistic plan. Twelve of the forty-one stages will be repeat stops (including Santiago de Compostela and a few stops on the way to Fisterra).  Two of the repeats are cities (León and Astorga).  Version 9.0 includes walking to Fisterra (three days) and continuing on to Muxia (one day) and includes all the "must stops" that we wanted.  I haven't met all the criteria but I think I did a pretty good job.  All plans are subject to change so there are a four days of padding to play with.   In an emergency we can bus to Fisterra and Muxia freeing up two more days.

One thing I found, while planning the stages, was if I stopped at everyplace with fond memories from last time, I would pretty much walk the same Camino as last time.  Sometimes you have to let go of some good memories to allow the creation of new good memories.

You can find the proposed list of stages on the Camino de Santiago tab at the top of the page or you can just click here.

So what am I getting myself into this time?  Last time I walked 513.61 miles (826.58 km). This time I will be doing 626.96 miles (1,009 km).  Substantially more.  I will be walking it in forty-one days, five days more than in 2011.  I will be averaging about one mile more per day than I did last time.  I will also have the longest hiking day I've ever had between La Faba and Samos (22 miles - 35.5 km).

The only thing that is guaranteed about this plan is that it will not be the final plan.  Last time I never predicted I would stop in Burgos for two days to let my tendinitis heal.  Who knows what will happen this time.  The only thing that is certain is that there will be changes along the way.  That is the way of the Camino.


  1. YES! A greater challenge AND you're using the buddy system. I approve! I also love that you are a planner. I love making plans. I hope that you have a blast this year!

    1. Miss McC: I approve of your approval! I am a major planner though I can also be a procrastinating planner at time doing a huge amount of planning at the last moment. Thanks!

  2. Wow, when you plan your Camino, you really PLAN your Camino, don't you? ;)

    The older I get, the more I think I need to start adding both "rest" and "injury" days to my schedules...

    1. GH: You can never plan too much I think - as long as you keep your plans flexible.

      Being ten years older than you I have been forced to take rest and injury into account in all my plans. *sigh*