....To Santiago

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Heatwaves and Hikes

Training hikes are so problematic when it is 40 C outside, with 80% humidity;
a typical July in the Washington, D.C. swamplands.  Late in the day on July 4th, when the temps had dropped to 35 C, we heaved on our 60L packs fully loaded with  8kg and set off to hike on the C & O Canal for a practice run.
Two hours and 5.5 sweaty km later, we returned, wrung our clothes out and threw ourselves into the wading pool on our deck to cool down.
This is going to be a long, hot summer, and while I don't expect it to be quite that hot on the Iberian peninsula in late September, well, you never know, and we need to practice no matter what conditions prevail here.
The recent four day grid failure over July 4th week due to the derecho which hammered half of the continent gave us a chance to try out our tent in the backyard since the house was stifling by the fourth night of the heatwave.  The tent is ultralight at 1.25 kg including the footprint which makes it a justifiable item to carry if it will allow us some freedom on the camino.  I want to sleep out under the Milky Way as much as possible, though I know that most nights we will be staying in the albergues with other pilgrims.
Because of the camping gear, our packs will not be in the optimal weight range for this long walk on hard surfaces (90% of the camino is paved or hard gravel road), and we may end up having to make some tough decisions about heaving off ballast.  Pilgrims are fanatical about keeping their pack weight as low as possible because of the punishing conditions a heavy pack can wreak on the body, especially the feet.   Finally, there is one's true actual weight, with loaded pack and all your clothes and accessories, known as your FTSO weight (From The Skin Out).  You should ideally carry no more than 10% of your body weight in your pack. I find all this detail fascinating (Stuart not so much!) and I predict that I will be obsessing over every gram as soon as I get my postage scale in the mail!  Yes, I will be weighing everything I carry down to the smallest comb.  And one might observe that it is well nigh impossible to measure the weight of the fears that I will carry on the camino, for they say that the pilgrim carries her fears in her rucksack.