I am shortly – tomorrow! – going for a one week walk in Galicia with my friend, who is new to the Camino. We initially decided on the Camino Ingles, but now it looks like we are walking from Sarria as the infrastructure will allow us more flexibility in where to stop, stay and eat. Hopefully it won’t be too crowded at this time of year even though it is a Jubilee Year of Mercy, and hopefully the weather will be good. I have only walked in Galicia in the spring once before, on my honeymoon, and we had wall-to-wall sunshine … I am not expecting this to happen again but am keeping my fingers crossed and my rain gear handy.
As always, layering is the way to go. I will be bringing the usual amount of tried and tested, warm and quick drying merino: T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, tights and buffs. I will still be walking in running tights, but have decided not to bring the skirt this time and instead take my merino short dress or tunic to wear with T-shirts and long sleeves over. This means an extra layer of merino on my core and still walking in a skirt, kind of. I can also sleep in the tunic if I get cold, and it weighs next to nothing.
As usual I will be taking a merino dress for evening and travel wear, but after checking the weather forecast I have decided to take the new lightweight one instead of the thicker and warmer stripy regular. I will still be taking my little trademark pink merino cardigan though, but I am leaving the fleece jacket at home and bringing my padded lightweight jacket for that extra bit of warmth for evenings and breaks.
As far as ponchos go, I won’t be taking the Altus this time. Although it seems long enough in the front room at home, it constantly blows or lifts up above my knees, which will get them soaked and let the water run inside my gaiters. I have another, a Helsport over-the-head poncho which is longer and also has wider sleeves which I am hoping will be an improvement. The gaiters should keep me dry from the knees down, and I can easily pull my hands into the poncho to keep them warm.
I was debating taking my gore-tex Salomon mid boots for some extra protection against the weather and mud, but on a rainy walk along the canal I could feel the exact moment when the membrane was overwhelmed and gave up, letting a slosh of cold water seep into my shoes. They took ages to dry so non-waterproof shoes might be just as good. If it doesn’t rain they are more comfortable, and if it does, I will get just as wet but have dry shoes again in the morning. Depending on the weather forecast before we go I might bring my trusty Salomons or super squishy Hokas hoping they will work wonders for my Plantar Fasciitis. The forecast will also determine what socks to take. At the moment the Hokas are in, after I managed to find a pair of insoles that made them fit me beautifully.
As for backpack, it stays the same: I am taking my Osprey Tempest 30L. My friend and I are both taking small packs so we can travel with hand luggage only, saving us approximately £75 each for a checked bag on two flights both ways. It also promotes good discipline in the packing light department.
I won’t be taking my down bag this time though, but the old synthetic one I bought in Burgos in 2012. I did get a new one but it is still ridiculously static and I just can’t imagine it will change. This was supposed to be a test run for my new bag, which is easy to clean and will be more practical for a longer walk in the future but I have made a last minute decision against it. My friend is trialling my other bag and we will come back with reviews on it. Weather will probably be bad so both bags will have to prove themselves.
Another change from my normal packing is that I will be bringing my Boil Coil, cup, teabags and instant soup sachets, so I can warm up when I get cold or snack when I am hungry and out of sync with Spanish kitchen operating times. It seems illogical to add to my kit after spending so much time reducing it, but I think it will be worth the (very low) weight and it’s time I tried it. Though if anything is getting ditched on my way out to the taxi I suspect this will be it. Or I might just take the teabags. Getting very weight conscious now.
Also – I will not be bringing my Pacerpoles! This decision has nothing to do with the actual Pacerpoles, which I still love and will still take back to the Camino or any other long walk. It is simply that I find I speed up too much with them and on this trip my main focus is walking with my friend and enjoying her company and (hopefully) the enthusiasm of the first time peregrina. I am however packing and posting my single ultralight walking pole along with her Pacers to our first accommodation in Sarria. I like having a walking pole to beat out the rhythm of the walk and also keep my hands from swelling, I just swap it from one hand to the other as I go. Besides it weighs so little I can easily keep it in my pack if I don’t need it. I expect I will miss the Pacers, especially on the uphill sections, but I will follow my Camiga’s pace this time. Mind you, the way she has thrown herself into her Camino fit regime, I’ll be lucky if I can keep up!
I think I will bring a hat too, I have a nice floppy one I like and I have been told to stay out of the sun (ha!). And a white shirt with SPF protection. But I have left one of the long sleeve merino tops so this doesn’t affect the weight, which is at this precise moment hovering just under 6 kgs with everything, including filter bottle but without water.
All that is left now is to charge the Fitbit, double check that I have my passport and boarding passes, count my euros and set my alarm for tomorrow!