images from today

Today we walked more than 19 miles from Terradillo de Los Templarios to El Burgo Ranero. The walk was great, but the last five miles were mentally rough. Me and my friend Hannah both pulled each other through and we made it to the city by around 2:30pm. We’re staying at an adorable albergue called El Nogal. I made a salad with fresh veggies, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, white asparagus, and tomatoes for a few friends and I for dinner, it was so refreshing after a somewhat mentally strenuous day. I’m really starting to get to know and love all of the group members from my university that I’ve been traveling with, each person adds something extremely special to this group. Though this is an individual journey, it’s so amazing to experience all of this together. I wouldn’t want to change one thing. Tomorrow we have a shorter hiking day, 12 miles. Then on Thursday we head to Leon, for two rest days. I’m excited for Leon because some of my pilgrim friends are waiting for my group in Leon and we’ll all be together again on Thursday. I love my Camino family, I love my Camino. A few pictures from my travels today are below. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.

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hammocking in Logroño

Two days ago my group took a rest day in Logroño, a beautiful city on the Camino. When there, my friend Ashley and I decided to adventure around the city in search of a place to hammock (yes, I did use hammock as a verb). After attempting to hammock in the city and getting asked to leave by the police, we searched for a park! We found a perfect little park. We set up our hammocks as curious locals watched in awe, as many of them had never seen ENO hammocks before. Shortly after relaxing in the sunlight, four curious little boys between the ages 8-11 approached us. We let them try out our hammocks of course and I even played soccer with one of the little boys for awhile.
It was such a special, wonderful time. It’s moments like those that I am truly thankful for, the simple moments. Hammocking. Meeting locals. I will strive to embrace all of these precious, beautiful moments.
Every part of this trip has been amazing, I couldn’t be more thankful already and I’m only about 150 miles in! More stories to come. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and Love.

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navarra

Throughout my travels in Spain thus far I have been traveling through Basque Country, in Navarra. Here is a brief history on the region:
Navarra, a French and Spanish influenced culture, is a mountainous region in the northeast region of Spain. The main languages of this region are Spanish and Basque. This region of Spain has various small medieval villages, is mountainous, has various valleys, vineyards, and many green pasture areas. Navarra used to be controlled by the Roman Empire and thus was originally inhabited by the Vascones, mostly in the northern mountainous regions like the Pyrenees. The Vascones, a pre-Roman tribe, have definitely left their romanesque mark throughout the region.
One can see the Vascone’s impact in many of the Roman-influenced buildings and aqueducts throughout Navarra. Historically, the southern region of Navarra is a place that various Muslims resided in. The Muslim’s conquest in Spain was in 711 AD, the Christians, however, over the next 700 years worked on pushing the Muslims out of Spain in the Spanish Reconquest. Pamplona is now the region’s capital and this city played a large role in the Reconquest of Spain. Pamplona is now famous for the Running of the Bulls, a festival that takes place in the city streets. Passing through Pamplona was so interesting, especially knowing that authors including Hemingway once walked the same streets in Spain.
There are many medieval villages, castles, and fortresses throughout Navarra because of Navarra’s location. As a border of France, Navarra has various monumental buildings and defenses, however, many of these buildings were destroyed in various fights, including the Spanish Reconquest. The Kingdom of Navarra is considered to be one of the most historically Christian regions in Spain. Navarra’s culture is extremely diverse. From Navarra’s famous wine to their midday naps called siestas, their bull runs in Pamplona, and their various religious carnivals and holidays, this all contributes to Navarra’s unique French and Spanish influenced society.
In meeting various individuals from Navarra I have found that they are kind, generous, and hospitable individuals. For example, when I lost in Pamplona on the Camino various kind individuals took the time to guide me in the correct direction. Even the locals in the small towns that I passed through when walking on the Camino would never fail to smile and wish me a “Buen Camino”.
I definitely noticed that Navarra is extremely different than Madrid. Madrid, a large, somewhat modern city was not as intimate as quaint, scenic Navarra. Though the individuals I met in Madrid were kind, those throughout Navarra seemed to be more laid back and approachable. In Madrid, the culture of late nights, loud noises, and tapas was overwhelming for me, and can be contrasted to Navarra’s beautiful mountain ranges, quiet countrysides, and high quality wine and food. I loved the time spent in Madrid, but it was too fast paced for me, the small medieval towns, mountains, rolling hills, and fields of Navarra are more desirable to me. The time spent in Navarra was wonderful and I cannot wait to return to this gorgeous region of Spain in the future. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and Love.

vegan hiking boots

When someone talks about hiking boots, I’m sure many of you picture bulky, heavy, dark brown, leather boots.  Right?  Well, that is the sort of image I once pictured when I thought of these sort of boots.  What if I were to tell you that that image is actually not accurate anymore? Further, what if I told you that there are vegan hiking boots? Yes, vegan: meaning no animal products were used at all in the making of these boots. Well, get ready for this readers, because vegan, non-leather hiking boots do exist!  I know what some of  you are thinking, “How can non-leather hiking boots be durable and reliable on long trips?”  Well, I asked myself the same question as I was searching for my vegan boots.  But in reality vegan boots do exist and they are durable, have good support, are long lasting, and vegans and non-vegans alike have claimed to love them.

How I found my boots:

I searched and searched the internet with little avail.  All the boots I found online were less than desirable.  So, I decided to take a trip to a nearby REI store.  After looking through all the women’s hiking boots and speaking with an REI employee, they informed me that they did not have any “non-leather” boots in their store.  They did however, give me a few websites that had non-leather boots.  When I returned home and visited the sites I was given, I found that all of the boots I saw were for men!  Though frustrated, I kept looking on the internet and I came across a Backpacker Magazine article that titled Editors’ choice 2013: Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR Boots which were made up of only man-made materials.  I quickly searched for a women’s version of these said boots, with success!  I quickly ordered them after some research; I found out that they were made up of gore-tex waterproof material, and they had corder nylon uppers.  After getting the boots, I took them out on a 15 mile hike, where my feet felt completely supported and comfortable.  I broke the shoes in to prepare them for my trip then set them aside, since I do not want to wear them out too much before my pilgrimage!  The only issue I have with these shoes is that I never want to take them off, not ever, even when inside!

         My amazing hiking boots:

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I am so happy with my purchase.  I can’t wait to wear them every day on the Camino!

Pros: vegan friendly, waterproof, light weight (1 lb. 5 oz.), good support, vibram soles, comfortable, easy to break in, pretty color.

Cons: Price ($170)

preparing for the camino

As I promised in the previous post I will tell you how I have prepared for the 500 miles I am about to walk on the Camino De Santiago!  I am a runner so I typically run around 4-6 miles about 5 days out of the week.  I attend school about 5 minutes from the beach in California, so typically after classes I would run at the beach.  I also had a membership to fitness classes on campus so I attended insanity-like workouts, did cardio, and fitness yoga.  The Santa Monica Mountains that surround my school also helped me prepare for this trip, as I started hiking almost every weekend this winter in the mountains at places like Sand Stone Peak (the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains), Big Sur, the Sequoia National Park and I did various over night backpacking trips on the Backbone trail throughout the winter as well! Below is an attached image of Big Sur when I traveled there this winter.  It’s such a beautiful area to visit/camp/hike/backpack!Image

When I returned home to Illinois that changed my training plans.  Since I live in a very flat area and no longer have mountains surrounding me to prepare me for the Camino, I have had to hike mostly in flat areas.  I have been going daily to state and local parks around me to hike/walk.  One of the state parks actually has a few hills so I have been hiking there often.  The closest area to walk near my house is a bike path that’s completely flat but so beautiful!  I will show images of my hikes in my next post!  I typically hike anywhere from 10-17 miles on my long days and run or walk about 5-8 on my short training days.  At first my feet really hurt from all the walking but now they have gotten used to these daily excursions, so the pain has improved greatly.  During my walks I have been listening to audio books and music, but often times I put my music away and embrace the beautiful sounds of nature.  My training has been going well, I hope that it will prep me for the Camino, I guess we will find out soon!  Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.