Alpine Club of Canada

Gazette Summer 2018

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We have new products coming to the online store this summer! Check them out at: alpineclubofcanada.ca/store ACC branded trucker caps, 70% organic cotton, 30% recycled polyester from Econscious ACC branded Men's Ferrosi Softshell Jacket from OR ACC branded Women's Ferrosi Softshell Jacket from OR 14 The Alpine Club of Canada Gazette Summer 2018 The Camino: Epic 800-kilometre hike by John saunDers A lthough not in the same category as some of the epic long‑distance hiking trails in North America, such as the 3,500‑kilometre Appalachian Trail, the Camino in northern Spain, which is an 800‑kilometre religious pilgrimage route, is still a dead‑serious, physically‑tough and absolutely outstand‑ ing walk. I know this first‑hand because in 2016, my wife‑like person, Paula Martin, our favourite daughter, Alex Martin, and I hiked the first half of the Camino. Returning in 2017 with a couple of American friends we completed the second half. At first, I was sceptical. I come from a somewhat spoiled hiking background, hav‑ ing been a trekking guide and outfitter in the remote and pristine South American Andes for several years. e thought of taking on the Camino, which is walked by thousands of people annually and at times is routed through cities, did not sound appealing. I was proven completely wrong. e Camino, which in English translates to "the path" or "the way", has become a generic term for the many European Christian pilgrimage routes, established in the Middle Ages (5 th to 15 th centuries), that converge in Santiago where the relics of Saint James, one of the 12 apostles, are entombed. e 800‑kilo‑ metre Camino Francés, which originates in Saint‑Jean‑Pied‑de‑Port, France, was the most popular route in medieval times. In this article, I refer to the Camino Francés as the Camino. At its peak in the Middle Ages, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from across Europe made the journey to Santiago. A typical medieval pilgrim travelled light wearing a broad‑brimmed hat and short overcoat or leather cape and carried a staff and a gourd serving as water bottle. ey stayed at night in monasteries and hostels that were pur‑ pose‑built to shelter pilgrims. During the last 15 years the Camino has become the most popular Christian pilgrim route in the world. In 1993, UNESCO proclaimed the Camino as a World Heritage Site. Today, about 250,000 people annually walk at least part of one of the Camino routes and finish in Santiago. We walked our two sections in a total of 40 days, or a 20‑kilometre per day average, which is a good, albeit somewhat leisurely, pace. Good advice is that the Camino is not a race and it is important to find a pace that works for you. ere is a lot of good logic to getting into Zen mode (aka "getting your Camino on"), and taking it slow and steady, not only to have time to stop and smell the roses, but also, most importantly, to avoid injury. e terrain along the Camino is varied and magnificent. Highest points include the Pyrenees Mountains, which you cross as you walk from France into Spain (1,450 metres) and as you climb out of the city of Astorga in northwestern Spain (1,515 metres). You walk for days through the Spanish meseta, which is similar to our Canadian prairies ‑ flat‑as‑a‑pancake country with spectacular 360‑degree views. e route meanders through vine‑ yards in Spanish La Rioja wine country and is lined often by old‑growth holm oaks and chestnut trees – one chestnut tree we passed was estimated to be 850 The author walks the trail near the halfway point at Sahagun, Spain. photo: paula martin

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