Getting Ready

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April 3rd 2013
Published: April 4th 2013
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About 7 months ago I decided I would hike the Compestela de Santiago in Northern Spain. Now I wonder - as I often do - What the hell was I thinking?

Perhaps it is a warm up for the Appalatchian Trail, which is about 4 times the length. One main difference is that on the AT you have to hump all your chow, tent, etc. A real hike in the outdoors. In Spain there are places to stay and eat along the way, and it is very well laid out. It's "just" a very long walk.

My travel plans have me departing Harlingen on May 2, driving 35 miles west to McAllen, boarding American for DFW, then ORD, then London, arriving Paris on May 3. Spending night in Paris, then boarding train on May 4 for St Jean Pied de Port in southern France. Spending the night there. On May 5 I get my "credential," which is a Pilgrim's Passport that gets stamped along the 465 mile saunter. I will depart St Jean Pied de Port on May 5 for Refuge Orisson, about 5 to 6 miles up the road. Roughly half way to Roncesville. Mostly uphill. I'll see if I can get a picture of the elevation to include!

Orisson is sort of famous, and if you see the movie "The Way" it is pictured. On the morning of the 6th the hump really begins.

At the end I hope to continue to Finisterre and Muxia, the shoreline in north western Spain. The Romans thought that was the end of the earth.

After Muxia, I plan to bus to A Coruna. Look up "Sir John Moore" and check out his story. He is buried there, and I learned of his story while teaching History at the Naval Academy. I have always wanted to visit there. After that I will have about a week, I think, before I have to be in Paris for the trip back to Texas.

Did you know: (From Wikipedia)

During the war of American Independence, John Adams was ordered by Congress to go to Paris to obtain funds for the cause. His ship started leaking and he disembarked with his two sons in Finisterre in 1779. From there he proceeded to follow the Way of St. James in the reverse direction of the pilgrims' route, in order to get to Paris overland. He did not stop to visit Santiago and came to regret this during the course of his journey. In his autobiography, he gave an accurate description of the customs and lodgings afforded to St. James pilgrims in the 18th century and mentioned the legend as it was then told to travellers:
I have always regretted that We could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saintiago de Compostella. We were informed, ... that the Original of this Shrine and Temple of St. Iago was this. A certain Shepherd saw a bright Light there in the night. Afterwards it was revealed to an Archbishop that St. James was buried there. This laid the Foundation of a Church, and they have built an Altar on the Spot where the Shepherd saw the Light. In the time of the Moors, the People made a Vow, that if the Moors should be driven from this Country, they would give a certain portion of the Income of their Lands to Saint James. The Moors were defeated and expelled and it was reported and believed, that Saint James was in the Battle and fought with a drawn Sword at the head of the Spanish Troops, on Horseback. The People, believing that they owed the Victory to the Saint, very cheerfully fulfilled their Vows by paying the Tribute. ...Upon the Supposition that this is the place of the Sepulchre of Saint James, there are great numbers of Pilgrims, who visit it, every Year, from France, Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe, many of them on foot.


4th April 2013

Training and shoes
Paul, Have you done any training in prep for this? How about shoes? Any special ones? Will you "press" or meander? Will you hump for 50 min. then do the 10 minute break to change into dry socks? Is there emergency medical support along the route? Do NOT die in Spain. I WANT our government to pay you your MarCor monthly swag for many more years. Tad
4th April 2013

Go for the GOLD
Pablo, Now is the time to practice your Spanish!!! Make sure to learn, "don't kill me, I know secrets!" in Spanish and Arabic just in case...
6th April 2013

Full support...
Dad, the Chapman daughters give you full support with this endeavor. The night you take off, I will personally light a cigar, pour some single-malt, and "pray" for you. Now, kick some ass, Marine.

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