By the end of July 2020, Jessica and I have already crushed 250 of the 835 kilometres on the Camino de Santiago. We have walked farther at this point than I did three years ago when my Camino walk ended after only 130 kilometres on the trail due to contracting double pneumonia.
But this time we’re not walking the Camino del Norte in Spain. We are doing it without getting on a plane!
Using a digital Camino guidebook on a phone app, we start each day looking at what section we intend to walk in Spain, carefully counting the total kilometres we would travel from one waypoint to the next ‘auberge’. And then after our daily walk (averaging between 6 and 10 kms) we document both where we have walked in reality, and where we have walked virtually.
For example, we walked today in reality along the McNab-Braeside Rail-Trail from Milton-Stewart Avenue to just beyond Miller Road (between Arnprior and Renfrew), and then back. In Spain, that would translate into a walk from Liendo to Laredo in the Province of Cantabria on the northern coast of Spain. Tomorrow we will begin in Laredo and calculate our walk to the next stopover. Slowly but surely we are making our way towards our destination which is the Galician city of Santiago, an ancient Christian pilgrimage shrine to Saint James.
We began Our Camino on the first of June, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic which shut down international travel and confined us to the rigours of social distancing and isolation. We hope to complete our adventure by the time the snow flies in this part of Canada. So far, I figure, we are making decent progress towards realizing our goal.
Our main trails, locally, are the afore mentioned McNab-Braeside recreational trail, the Algonquin Trail, in-town waterfront trails along the Madawaska and Ottawa Rivers, and in residential subdivisions and the Gillies Grove conservation reserve. Before the end of our journey we also hope to walk parts of rail-to-trail paths near Petawawa, on country roads around Golden Lake, and along beaches in Prince Edward County – all in Eastern Ontario.
We rely on technology and physical supports to aid us on this adventure. We catalogue all our walks via smartphone maps and exercise apps. Also, we have found that walking poles have provided significant support and burns more calories!
Early on in our journey we decided we needed some training with our walking poles. So, we are grateful to Susan Yungblut for the training lesson she gave us in Brewer Park in Ottawa. Susan is a certified trainer in urban pole walking and leads the Ottawa Nordic Walks group.
We walk mostly on the gravel and packed earth of the rail-to-trails. But we spend a good portion of our walking on asphalt and cement hardtop sidewalks. We switch between using the rubber ‘boots’ on the tips, and taking them off on the more rugged trails. So the tips and suggestions were helpful!
Maybe before the end of this extraordinary year of virtual experiences, we can bring you an update on how we finished walking the Camino de Santiago … from the comfort of home.