#1MillionStepsHike Camiño de Santiago – 5 – Lessons learned (so far)

Welcome to the fifth post on the series!

On the previous post, I have covered what I expect to be my daily hiking day.

On this post, I will go over the lessons learned so far, and I expect this to be the most updated post of the series, so stay tuned.

Lessons Learned (so far)

Whenever we dive into a challenge, the most certain thing you have, is teh fact that the tougher the challenge, the bigger the learning opportunity.

This one won’t be different.

  • Test your gear, specially your wearables – a quick side story just to exemplify the importance of testing your gear way in advance:

I have gone the extra mile to get my running examined by experts and bought some running shoes. They are fantastic and feel like I’m running on clouds during my 5~10 Km runs, so naturally I was planning to take these as my prime hiking shoes. Some time into the running, I decided to go for a 35Km hike (no load) and those amazing running shoes… tore my feet apart, with huge blisters, even with all the precautions on socks and prep. From about 18 Km onward a sharp pain started to appear on the outside, mid-foot articulations. Pain took several days to go away. When they did, I tried again and again they came up. I then opted to try a hiking pair of shoes, with a stronger support, a bit heavier than the running shoes, but with those, I’ve covered over 400Km at this point in time, multiple 35+ Km hikes with load and although I get sored feet in the end, they recover swiftly and I’m ready to hike on the next day, which is the exactly what I need.

This is not limited to shoes! Your backpack will be rubbing against your torso, shoulders and waist for 10+ hours each day. Guess what a bad padding or a bad sewing will do to your skin. Apply the same thought to your underwear, clothes, hat, sticks, etc.

  • Test your water proof gear – Not every topic is a bad story! Some time back, we had a bad storm striking our coast. Winds up to 80 Kms, heavy rain was the forecast. I took the opportunity and went out for a 25 Km hike full rain gear on and they worked perfectly. Wind, cold and heavy rain for 5 hours straight and my feet, clothes and backpack interior were as dry as they could be. Since then I have made some changes, replacing my heavy rain jacket with a much lighter and thinner one and yes, I have tested it also 😉
  • Planning is everything, the plan is useless. Yeah plan all you want, life will throw plenty curve balls at you to test your commitment. Planning will make your mind go over everything that should go well, and everything you imagine can go wrong. It will exercise your eye mind, placing you on location and provide you with a set of guidance that will hopefully help you on the field. The plan itself is just a series of hopeful thinking that will most likely brake along the way many times. Embrace it and prepare for the unexpected. It will happen and you can’t control all the variables. Add in a few buffer days, just in case…
  • Test your checklist. Take your beautifully thought out checklist and… pack your bag! When you are finished, (by the way, if you managed to put everything in congrats! I didn’t on my first try…), weigh your bag. Yet I bet it’s way over your max weight. Oh and did you remember to count for the water and daily food? Yeah, I know, I didn’t either. So now starts the take it out game, or if you are totally far away from your goal, better to start from scratch.
  • Test your backpack. Completed the previous exercise and have your backpack ready? Awesome! Leverage it and take it out for a hike. Better yet, start training with it as is. I did find what initially felt like minor straps adjustments, but it impacted on my legs, giving me sore legs on the first days I used it.
  • Plan sleep overs with desired location and +- 5Km backup options. 5 Km is not a big stretch, but at the end of a long day, with wind and rain, it can turn out to be almost 2 hours. On the other side of the spectrum, you might get to your location and you still pack energy and feel like an extra stretch, so you may continue for a bit longer. Having the contacts for the alternative locations at hand, will help adjust if needed.

Certainly many more to come..

Check next post for “what’s next”.

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