My particular pile of 'stuff' is the refined culmination of 5 years of long distance walking experiences that have happily taken us to many special places including Japan, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. This time I've had to make some adjustments as this will be my first full-on fall seasonal walk, with the expectation of finishing in late November. This means that some new gear had to be added and some warmer season gear removed from my kit. For example, I've added a filled vest (bright blue bag) to keep my core warm, even if it gets wet. I've also added a very light Gortex jacket that I found in Japan for layering and evening wear. I well remember wearing my Altus poncho ('Caesar' - red bag) in October 2013 to dinner in Spanish bars through driving rain storms and swearing that if I was ever silly enough to again walk in the fall that I'd bring a waterproof jacket with a hood.
I've also constructed a quasi sleeping bag from a goose down blanket using velcro strips (the blue/green stuff bag on the left) to put inside my silk bug-proof liner (green bag beside). I stopped carrying a sleeping bag after my first 2013 camino and moved to the silk liner with the occasional blanket available in a gite or albergue when it was cool. Hopefully this combination will keep me warm, and if not I have a buff, rain gloves plus other clothes that I can sleep in.
Of course our walking amigos will want to know how much it all weighs. Annemarie tells me that her pack before food and water will be 6.4 kg (14 lbs). My pack weighs in at 7.5 kg (16.4 lbs). Add about 3 lbs for food and water and that's what we will be carrying most days on the Arles/Aragones route, and that reduces by about a pound on the Spanish portion where there are more frequent food and water sources.
Picking a hat was oddly challenging this time. Initially I purchased a Gortex lined rain hat (I'm expecting lots of rain given our 2013 Spain, 2014 France and 2017 Japan experiences), but it proved too warm, so I've returned it. Of course, in the wings and waiting as always was my trusty "old guy" Tilley Airflo that has been with me on each of my 5 prior caminos (top right). However, it's a pain when it get's wet or I don't want to wear it as it doesn't pack away well (I also carry a folding cap). So I looked again to my super light OR floppy sun hat that my son Bryan lent me for Japan (he later gave it to me after he saw how nasty it had become). It folds up small and can go into my pack or pocket, but it doesn't repel rain. However, my mom doesn't really like it and to add to this a camino pal of mine in Germany told me that "it was cute" with my Henro Buddhist outfit. Cute? My Camino buddies Ken and Neil will of course vote for the Tilley...Ken already has. Beat up as it is, it does carry a certain rough and tumble Indiana Jones look (probably only in my head). It also carries a certain tradition...so I'm leaning this way. I have three days to decide. Poor Annemarie will miss the final debate!
Tomorrow Annemarie and I will go our separate ways for a few days and reconvene for Caitlin's birthday party in Vancouver on Sunday night. I have a certain injury, and my doctor has advised me to miss the 19-20 hour weekend drive given the long flight on Monday. So sadly I'll miss Josh and Emma's wedding, but will be toasting them from here and maybe I'll get to watch part of the celebration in real time.
On Monday afternoon we fly off to Montpellier, France and begin our walk a couple of days later on Friday, September 21st...the first day of fall! They are already forecasting rain as we climb over the Central Massif...it figures:)
Are we excited? What do you think? :)
Annemarie has left us with a nice poem. Please keep in mind that as you read Annemarie's poetry you can read it from the perspective of someone who has or cares for a person experiencing Alzheimer's, or apply it to our walking experience.
We are aware, we will just have to let this story unfold.