Dec 6, 2009

Why winter?

This will be brief.

Why on earth would I choose to do the Camino de Santiago, already a difficult hike of approximately 800 km, in the first six weeks of the year? Northern Spain is not like northern Canada, but there will certainly be snow en route.

The quickest answer is, this is when I have the time. Perhaps one day I will have a five to six week block of time free to jet off to Europe in the spring or summer, but perhaps not. The time is now. (This is true on an existential level, too. The present is all we have.)

While looking into this, I found a few resources online which explicitly addressed a winter pilgrimage. Winter Pilgrim is written by the author of a booklet by the same name which is published by the Confraternity of Saint James. If it's on their website, it is authoritative.

Amawalker: Walking in Winter had a lot more information and winter-specific tips, but it also pointed out the years in which pilgrims had died crossing the Pyrenees in March and April. It was good for me to read this and realize that my bluster of being a winter-hardy Canadian wouldn't prevent me from freezing to death if I slipped and broke a leg on a pass in the mountains. Hmmmmm.

Then I found the blog of a 17 year-old Australian girl who is doing the Camino at this very moment. (She also has an older companion along with her.) While she's more than a month ahead of me, I am following her blog with great interest. That is also what prompted me to set this one up.

Finally (for now, at least), last evening I came across Ann Sieben's blog. Beginning at this entry, the Winter Pilgrim described her walk from Aachen, Germany to Santiago de Compostela in the winter of 2008-2009. I haven't read her "Best Of" summaries yet -- that is what I'll be doing this afternoon when I get home from church.

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