When I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago, I immediately planned a “practice week”; a week in which I would not only walk several consecutive days but also practice with my gear. That week was last week. This is the third part of the blog post about my practice week; here you can read the first part and the second part.
It was like waking up from a nightmare and then realising it actually happened. Although, I must admit that, when opening my tent zippers the sight was pretty amazing. The grass was completely white frozen and the winter sun peeked through the trees. My body, however, did not feel as amazing as my surroundings looked and if I did not just have the night that I had, I would have ran to the heated toilet building (Yes. Throughout the night, I had the idea to sleep in this building. In hindsight, I probably should have.). I opened the door and saw Rennon packing his backpack with the energy of someone that fell asleep in a five-star hotel and woke up with a champagne breakfast. “Good morning!” “Morning.” I replied. Ok, I might have given him a bit of a death stare. “How was your night?” It took me a lot of courage admitting to the horror that was my night but deep inside I was aware that Rennon already knew my night was going to suck hard when he saw me sitting in the opening of my tent, boiling water in a pot without a lid.
“What’s for breakfast?” I answered with a question, as I was wondering whether I, as a rookie, might have brought the wrong breakfast despite my extensive research on nutrient-dense, dehydrated foods. “Porridge with dried fruits?” Pass. He asked to have breakfast together in a shelter on the terrain. By the time I gathered all my bits and pieces, he already ate his and was busy making some tea. As I ate my porridge, he gave me valuable advice on apps, gear and hiking in general and promised me to send his packing list. I thanked him for the advice and before he took of, I told him I would survive another night. He thought so too. An hour after Rennon left, I decided I would not.
I stood in the toilet building crying as I felt like I was giving up and because I could not feel my toes anymore. Then I realised that my dad and stepmother were staying in Otterlo, a village in the Veluwe where I had done one of my previous walks. I called dad, deconstructed my tent, moved all my crap into the toilet building and hysterically packed my bag. Once packed, I walked to the bus stop and travelled to Otterlo. A steaming hot shower, a couple of Jägermeister and a good night’s sleep got me all set for the days after.
In the days that followed, I did two walks with my backpack that weighed about 10 kilograms. The first was 16,2 km and took me about three hours, the second was 18,2 km and took me almost four hours to complete. During these walks, I did not only realise that I suck at taking breaks, I also discovered a whole new set of muscles in my feet and back. After doing some research about my sleeping bag, I found out that the comfort temperature for a female using this particular bag is 4°C, for a male it is -2°C. No wonder -5°C was a little too cold for me. Finding a sleeping bag suitable for a colder night is now on my to-do-list. I did however manage to sleep two more nights in my tent… this time it was above 0°C and I had an extra sleeping bag.
All in all, these couple of days were a valuable experience, just a little bit of a shame I had to learn it the hard way ; )