As we headed out the door of our first hotel toward a journey that would span 205km across the spectacular Spanish countryside, we stopped to take a quick photo in the main square of Astorga.Here we received our first Buen Camino (Good Camino) from some English tourists dressed in costume after re-enacting a Spanish/English battle the previous afternoon and we were asked how far we had come. Turning to point out our hotel, not 25m from where we stood, we laughed out loud at the first of many ‘in’ jokes to come. Nobody ever asked us again how far we walked, but that didn’t matter, we were there for the adventure, and each other!
We ranged in age from 26 to 69 and came together to do something amazing; forge new friendships, be blown away by the beauty of local villages, eat delicious food, sample local wines and of course, walk a large chunk of the Camino Frances, covering on average 25km a day for 10 days from Astorga to Santiago.
As we set off most mornings around 8am the sun would rise around us, casting golden light across fields and valleys. We never quite knew what the trail had in store for us, but we knew for sure we would have time to reflect and chat at our first coffee stop around 10:30am, followed by Santiago cake (a local almond cake that was sooooo good!) in the afternoon.
The team were incredible to say the least (shout out to those legends if you are reading this!) and well prepared for the challenge each day. Armed with enough hikers wool and Compede to ward off the blisters, we managed to avoid any serious foot pain, and as a Myotherapist I was able to share a few tips on keeping the muscles in top condition – and a sneaky little trick to use your walking pole as a massage tool!
Regular group training prior to the hike meant we were all moving well, and free from any nasty surprises. The best advice I was given in preparation for challenging hikes, especially those including steep ascents or descends is to practise. If you are going to climb a hill or mountain, the best thing to do in your training is….. yep, climb a hill or mountain. If you are going to walk 25km a day, train for endurance. Wear your boots in all weather, across all terrains, back-to-back days and for long periods of time so your feet feel at home in them. Whatever challenge you are up against, break it down and practise it. The more prepared you are, the more enjoyable the challenge will be.
This was not my first active holiday, in fact it’s become a bit of an obsession for me since my first active trip to Nepal in 2013. Along with fellow hike-addicts we formed Hike Time, a social hiking community that grew from the training hikes and now has over 100 members that regularly meet to check out some of Victoria’s varied hiking trails. This is open to anyone that is interested in supporting and inspiring others, with varied hike options from beginner 2hr walks, to overnight hikes carrying all of your own gear.
Organising and training for these trips has become my motivation to stay active and happy throughout the year. Without a fitness goal to work towards, it can be challenging to spring out of bed and head to the gym or for a walk/run/ride, but when you have a great network of supportive friends waiting to see your face at the next hike event it’s impossible to miss it.
We currently have a few places left on the next adventure to Nepal in April 2019, so if you are interested in joining any of our local hikes, or you want a challenge (to end all challenges!) Follow the links or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.