Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Two Nice Surprises

Early this spring, when I started my training for the Camino de Santiago, one of the first climbs was beautiful Mount Major in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Although it is not a big mountain, hikers flock to it for its gorgeous views and it's "big" mountain feel. By that I mean it is a short climb, less than 3 hours roundtrip, but it is steep and somewhat challenging for the moderate hiker, both on the way up and the way down.

Here I am with my daughter Heidi and our friend Ellen at the summit. They have walked and hiked with me from the beginning, when the Camino de Santiago trip was only a dream. Their phone calls at the crack of dawn got me up and out the door for our early morning walks. They have added a playfulness and some humor to our walks and have made them fun and interesting, and both have been an inspiration to me.

During that first spring climb, I huffed and puffed on the way up and had to give up my backpack before reaching the top. And on the way down my knees were red and swollen and screaming with pain. I hobbled most of the way down the mountain. My knees are one thing that has had me worried about my journey along the Camino, as I know there are some really steep descents.

The first surprise is that we just climbed Mount Major again on a gloreous crystal clear morning. And what a difference! I climbed to the summit with full backpack with ease, not even slightly winded and the real miracle was the descent. Not even a whimper from my knees. No swelling or redness and no pain at all!!

I guess all my long hours of hiking and walking with full backpack have paid off. I also now use trekking poles, which at first I found very cumbersome; but on the descents they are a blessing.

The second surprise was that Heidi and Ellen have been saying that they would love to join me on the Camino. They each run their own business and have a house full of kids and men to take care of, so being away for more than a month was impossible. So I resigned myself to thinking that it would never be possible. Well, they did it. They just purchased tickets to Spain. They will meet me to walk the last 5 days with me (114kilometers or 68.5 miles).

Here I am with my husband on our second Mt. Major hike. He will walk with me the first 12 days, but then must return home, and since he cannot be with me till the end, I cannot think of two better people to have with me than my 2 faithful and encouraging walking partners. They have been with me from the beginning and I think it is so appropriate for them to be the ones with me when I finally arrive at the tomb of the Apostle Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.


  1. You have really come a long way, Rita... The next time you go up that mountain in New Hampshire, you'll be running!!! ha

    I'm so happy that your hubby will be 'hiking' with you part of the time, and that your friend/daughter will join you for the last 5 days.. By that time, you may need them there for pure encouragement.

    I surely am impressed with your goal---and hope to hear from you all along the way. What a fabulous undertaking!!!

  2. Hi Betsy
    Thanks so much for all the kind and encouraging words. It really will be more exciting to share part of my journey with loved ones. It will be like 3 different journeys. One with my husband, one alone and then the last part with the girls.

  3. Just reading about your plans...3 different journeys...fills me with emotion...I can't help but think of the best parts of the book...Eat, Pray, Love...wish you a wonderful journey!

  4. Hi Wanda
    Thanks. I am sure that each will be fullfilling and exciting in different ways.

  5. That's awesome that your training is paying off!

    Last fall, my husband and I hiked the Grand Canyon. One of our first training hikes was Mt. Major also!!


  6. What an inspiration you are!
    I'm glad your daughters will be with you on your long hike in Spain.

  7. You are amazing! All the walking and still have time to run a blog and read others. I'm glad you've enjoyed some of my posts, & I'm sure you will see some beautiful churches among other fabulous sights!

  8. Hi Sue
    I love Mount Major. We try to do it every year. That and Welch and Dickie are my favorites.
    the grand canyon hike is on my list. maybe next year.

  9. Hi Janie
    Thank you. I am so happy about the girls too. It makes it very special to be able to have them with me.

  10. Hi Cheryl
    Thanks. I am looking forward to all walking through the medieval villages that haven't changed much in 1200 years. The churches must be awesome. Can't wait!!

  11. Hi Rita,
    Your pictures are marvelous (I enlarged!). How happy you must be that Heidi and Ellen will be with you when you finish your walk. I'm very excited for you - you are in awesome shape now and ready to tackle the Camino!

  12. Hi Barb
    Thanks for the comment about the photos, not being tech savvy,it is nice to have a friend to help with things like that;)
    The girls are very excited!! We have been running around trying to get their gear together before I leave (in just a few days)

  13. Rita - what a lovely suprise, how lovely that two precious folks will be there with you on your final days !

  14. Hi Ruthie, Yes it was a nice surprise, and I am looking forward to being with them. they have been my life line to the Camino, full of support, help, everthing since the beginning.
    I will be a good experience for them too. Neither have ever been to Europe.

  15. "Manitarita", desde mi lejano país te hago llegar todo mi amor y te entrego todas mis energías para que te acompañen día a dí alegró mucho saber que te acompañará Ron, Heidi y tu amiga Ellen, mis mejores deseos también para ellos...
    hasta la vista, baby......

  16. Ana Maria
    Muchas gracias por tan buenas palabras. Tu y tu hermosa familia van a estar en mi corazon y mis oraciones durante mi peregrinación
    Besos y abrazos