My Camino Story: As Told By My Feet

2 06 2011

I’ve tried to avoid talking a lot about my feet, but now that the walk is over I feel ready to share.  Part of the reason for this is to remind myself in future years what the Camino walk was really like.  We’ve come across many other pilgrims who tell us it takes awhile for your feet to adjust–time frame seems to be anywhere from 1-3 weeks.  Well, our trip is only 3 weeks long.

If you are a bit squeamish, you may not want to read further.

Before the trip began, I thought I was well prepared.  I had a good set of boots, well worn and I thought very comfy.  I had thick hiking socks and even bought new ones for maximum fluff.  I bought liner socks to reduce friction and wick moisture away from my feet.  It was all in vain.

Day 1 & 2: Arrive in Madrid and explore city.  Feet are happy.

Day 3: Train to Burgos and explore city, feet are happy.

Day 4: Burgos to Hornillos del Camino, 20 km.  Feet are still OK but tired.

Day 5: to Castrojeriz, 20 km.  Baby toes become blistered, weight of pack, combined with baby toes that want to curl under other toes.  Drain blisters and try to protect toes with “toe sleeves”.

Day 6: to Fromista, 25 km. Baby toes causing a great deal of pain.  Toe protection making boots too tight and causing more pain.  Travel by train to Leon.

Day7: Buy good walking sandals in Leon.  Feet breathe a sigh of relief.  Travel to Ponferrada by bus.

Day 8: to Villafrance del Bierzo, 23 km. Sandals are better than the boots, but blisters begin to develop on the balls of the feet.  Tried wearing just liner socks with sandals.

Day 9: to Vega de Valcarce, 16 km. Baby toes are feeling better, but blisters on balls of feet causing difficulty.  I buy my first “compeed” and a set of gel pads for the balls of my feet.

Day 10: to O Cebreiro, 12 km (straight up). “Compeed, I love you!”

Compeed is not available in Canada, it is a plasticy, sticky type of stuff which acts as a 2nd skin, cushions sore areas and has some healing ingredients.  I used the compeed on the balls of my feet.  It made the climb possible.  Some of the others in the group have chosen to either take a taxi or send their baggage using luggage transport. I refuse to give in.

Day 11: to Triacastella, 21.6 km.  Feet are very sore.  Blisters on balls of feet are beginning to ooze out the edges of the compeed.  I develop new blisters on the underside of my feet at the base of my toes.  Can’t do much for them as they are in an awkward place.  Tape will not stick.  As long as I don’t stop moving, I’m OK, but downhills are slow and painful.

Day 12: to Sarria, 17.5 km.  Small blister on instep of right foot begins to cause trouble. I thread it for the second time in the evening.  Buy more compeed, two different shapes.  Stuff is wonderful but very expensive.

Day 13: rest day in Sarria.  I am not using any compeed.  You have to be careful peeling it off so the skin doesn’t come with it.  Hard to walk unless I’m wearing sandals and gel pads.

Day 14: to Portomarin, 22.5 km.  I wore my boots today, there’s very little support in the sandals and although they’re softer, I’m missing the support of the boots.  I started with my thick socks but switched to thin liner socks part way through to allow for swollen feet.  I’m noticing considerable swelling in my feet, it’s making it difficult to bend my toes.  Probably caused by the heat.

Day 15: to Palais de Rei, 24 km. Wore 6-8€ of compeed on my feet, but nothing is worse and I made it.  Feet are very swollen.

Day 16: to Melide, 15 km.  Feet still swollen in morning but because the walk was shorter it was probably one of the best walking days since the beginning.  Using liner socks and gel pads.

Day 17: to Arzua, 15 km.  Shorter walk and cooler day, and we met some other Canadians.  Talking made the km fly by, however, the faster pace  caused a new new blister on heel of left foot.  Missing the thick socks on the heels, but still can only use liner socks for toes and balls of feet.

Day 18:  to Arca, 19 km.  Blister on heel causing issues, but rest of feet seem to be doing better.

Day 19: to Santiago, 21 km.  Blister on heel still painful.  Had to shake out sock at edge of Santiago, thought it was a pebble, but after later inspection, it was a baby toe nail.  Feet feel like they’ve been beaten with a stick.

Day 20: day in Santiago, feet still sore and still swollen.  Visit pharmacy where I’m sold some anti-inflammatory cream to relieve swelling and the itching that goes with it.

Day 21: day in Madrid.  Feet feeling better, large pieces slough off in the bathtub.  Told you it was gross!  Cream worked well.

The trip wasn’t all about the feet, but sometimes it was hard to remember that.  There are all kinds of theories as to why I had so much trouble, some make sense, some don’t.  I have to admit at the beginning of the trip, I thought the walk would be easy–I have been humbled.

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3 responses

2 06 2011
Lisa B. Pot

But you stuck it out! That’s a lot of walking.

4 06 2011
Hetty

Wow….for a minute there, I thought it was your toe that rolled out of the sock! But, you stuck it out. Kudos to you!

22 12 2011
The Christmas Letter | The Farmer goes to Seminary

[…] The one key event that 2011 will be remembered for is our walk on the Camino de Santiago in May. We travelled to Spain with a group from Concordia University as part of a course on the history and theology of pilgrimage.  Something happened on that journey. We went to look at, study, pilgrimage and somehow the experience changed us in ways that we have been unable to really quantify. It was a humbling experience filled with metaphors and symbolism. We only walked 270 of the 780 km route and talk about the day we will go and do the rest of it. J in particular would like to go back just to prove that her body is not going to hold her back. […]

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