Miles for Makena

Day 8

By | Miles for Makena

It’s hard to say how we felt about today and about our time on the Camino in general.

It’s impossible to deny there is a “feel” to the travel and travelers along The Way of Saint James. There is a sense of wonder and oneness among the travelers and a sense of history and devine faith in the many towns and villages along the way.

The Spanish countryside is remarkable and the path wanders through a beautiful land which begs to remain as it has been for centuries.

It’s hard to miss the significance of the tremendous number of “coincidental” meeting and conversations along the way. For these things all one can really say is “It was meant to be”.

How do you explain that of the hundreds of thousands of travelers along the way, few though our conversations may have been,  an almost unrealistic portion of those we spoke with had a unique connection to Kenyan outreach? For these things all one can really say is “It was meant to be”.

On a very personal note it would be very hard for me not to say that I took our welcome to the final miles to Santiago as an omen for good.

Today as we began our final miles we did so under, as though entering Santiago through, the most magnificent full, beautiful and perfectly placed rainbow I have ever encountered. What a way to start our day!

Today was scheduled to be a short walk so as to put us into Santiago ahead of the rain and, hopefully, ahead of the crowd.

As we closed in on Santiago the pilgrimage seemed more real. From hotels, hostels and albergues pilgrims funneled into the final path to the Cathedral which was our unifying goal.

As we closed in on Santiago the pilgrimage seemed more real. From hotels, hostels and albergues pilgrims funneled into the final path to the Cathedral which was our unifying goal.

As we passed along one of the final paths I couldn’t help but think about the path itself. Worn deep by the millions of pilgrims who have left their mark in the soil and taken away a bit of “The Way” on their soles, wearing the path so deep that in many places the path is well below the surrounding forest. It’s easy to believe that these pilgrims carried away a part of “The Way” on their soles and an everlasting memory of “The Way” on their Souls.

When we arrived in the city limits of Santiago the way was not always marked as clearly on the city streets as it had been in the countryside and indications of distance to our goal was no longer placed on markers along the way. Our eyes continuously swept the horizon searching for the spires of the Cathedral and our first site of it was cause for joy.

Diagonally up and to the right of orange backpack was our first glimpse of the Cathedral, barely one kilometer away.

I wish I had a name and a photo of the lady in Santiago who saw us looking for a marker, a sign post. She saw our backpacks and trekking poles, the ever visible sea shell hanging from our packs, she pointed the way and said “only a kilometer now, Buen Camino”.

The streets were full and the rain had come, dampening the clothes of the incoming pilgrims but certainly not their spirits.

As we made entry into the halls where pilgrims and their pilgrimage were recorded we met others we had known along the trail and waited patiently for our turn to obtain or pilgrims certification.

The Camino brought us far more then we expected and we leave it with far more than you can imagine.

Buen Camino


Day 7

By | Miles for Makena

With rain forecast for Sunday we decided to make every effort to arrive in Santiago early Saturday to avoid hiking in cold temperatures and pouring rain.

We figured that, given the profile of this portion on a call the trip, we could make it from Ribadiso to Amenal and be in our lodging by 5 or so and still maintain a reasonable pace; so off we went.

Turned out this was one of our favorite days on our journey.

Filled with the realization that we were just a day away from Santiago our spirits were high and our legs now accustomed to the long days and terrain; there was no doubt we were ready for the final days of our trek.

Along a pleasant country path early in the day we were both startled by the sound of  galloping hooves and then to our right, above us on the path a magnificent white stallion came to a  sudden stop and looked at us as though WE were a sight to see!

We stopped to take a photo and he stood with patience until we were done, looked at us one more, obviously had seen enough of us-whinnied and galloped away.

One of the more peculiar sights of the morning was what we dubbed “mushroom alley”.

We turned a corner and saw that every stump for yards was covered with mushrooms. As if they were cultivated they started on one stump and flourished for 20 or so yards and just as suddenly as they started, they stopped.

No matter how pretty they were and how hard I tried I couldn’t get Brenda to try any.

Our biggest surprise of the day, and perhaps the trip, was when we stopped for lunch in an extremely small (3 tables) cafe in a village of only a half dozen buildings.

While eating our dried ham sandwich we struck up a conversation in broken English with Jose.

There was no apparent difference between Jose and other travelers with the exception that he seemed to be running the small cafe. When the owner came in we found that Jose was simply a “good friend” who was watching the till while the owner performed some chores.

Just as we were saying our goodbyes, Norman came through the door and saw Jose. Norman gave Jose a huge hug and a warm greeting and then said to us, “I see you’ve met a true legend!”

Ken and Jose

I guess it was obvious from our response we had no idea what he was talking about, so he got out his phone, pulled up a website and explained.

“My friend Jose is a living legend among pilgrims…as a sailor he was the sole survivor of a capsized ship in the seas off Norway. While praying for rescue in freezing waters he made a vow to the Virgen del Carmel ( patron saint of sailors) that he would make a pilgrimage to all the holy sites in the world if she saved his life.”

“ My friend Jose has traveled over 100,000 kilometers to keep his vow.”

It’s an amazing story of survival, resolve and faith.  (Read the entire amazing story here

After hearing the story of Jose and his personal pilgrimage we left the cafe amazed and in awe headed towards Amenal and our final night on the Camino.

Just before Amenal we made one last stop for water and a snack.

As we finished our water Brenda chatted with a man, Kennedy (Ken) Asaba leading a group of Pilgrims with whom we had leap frogged several times along the trail. When she asked about the group we were surprised to hear he was a minister from Kenya. He explained that over the last 3  years he has built his church in western Kenya and works to raise funds to help educate the local youth.

Brenda and Ken establish an immediate bond and are already in communications, hoping to develop synergies for the future.

This was truly a wonderful day on the Camino full of the sights and spirit that makes the Camino unique.

Buen Camino


Day 6

By | Miles for Makena

Awake and alert as had been our norm, I prepared to meet the day.

Leaving Leboreiro at full sunrise we were off for Ribadiso. As the graphics below show, my brilliant planning ( or perhaps fortuitous circumstance) allows us to start the day with a relatively easy walk for a change.

The walk from Leboreiro to Boente was the most consistent level stretch we had encountered followed by several kilometers of steep incline to end the day.

At our first stop of the day we had the opportunity to lunch with Norman (picture below) from Denmark.

Conversation, as always, lead towards the trail and the inevitable question “where did you start?”

Norman’s response was “France, this time”, begging the question “how many times have you traveled the Camino?” ELEVEN!!! 3 of which were the ENTIRE French route.

His wife having passed away Norman has found a kind of spiritual solace and family among the frequent travelers along the trail.

Norman spoke fondly of his many trips and people like “Tom from Texas” who are on the trail, traveling with no funds, camping and foraging for apples and pears along the path; the “Family Camino”.

Although it’s hard to tell in the photo below, as we get closer to the large cities the mix of the ancient and modern becomes apparent.

Here the Camino is sandwiched between an ultra modern manufacturing facility and a freeway!

One of the more charming chapels on our trip was outside Melide. Ancient stone on the exterior and a beautifully maintained interior.

Something no amount of reading or watching of video had prepared us for was the wide range of music we would hear along the Camino.

Pilgrims passing us with earphones loud enough that we could hear native music from many nations as well as contemporary rock and roll. None loud enough to be heard from more than a foot or so away or in any way annoying, just an interesting mix.

Having said this, we were more than a little surprised as we crested a hill and heard someone playing bagpipe music in the distance.

As we rounded a bend and prepared to cross a small stream we were face to face with the source of the sounds!!!

Aileen is traveling the Camino and earning some extra money by camping along the trail and playing bagpipes for pilgrims along the way!!

Watch Video

Another interesting day filled with surprises on the Camino!

Buen Camino

Day 5

By | Miles for Makena

Today we started out for what was planned to be a relatively light day, traveling from Eirexe to Leboreiro, a distance of only about 12 miles by the grid; the guide is typically off by about 2 miles.
Our breakfast has become a routine of 2 pieces of toast and jam each, coffee for me and Coke Zero for Brenda, today was no different.

We began our uphill climb from Eirexe around 9:20 with a temperature of 45 f and both wearing 3 layers with a light undershirt, a long sleeve T shirt and a Polartec outer layer.
Between the walking and the absolutely perfect weather it typically is warm enough by 11 or so to lose the polartec and the next layer by noon. For me the lower half of the pants legs goes about the same time and I am down to T shirt, shorts and back pack.
Along the way we were excited to finally find a village with no cow poop on main street and some salve for the one malady for which we were unprepared.
We packed Aleve for back pain, Excedrin for headache, foot patches for blisters, sun block and more but on day 5 I was struck with something new; a rash in the nether region! Although explaining the exact problem to the lady at the pharmacy who spoke no English and seemed to enjoy making me repeat my gestures was a bit of a challenge, ultimately I was given some Desitin like ointment which has done the trick!
As we left the pharmacy in Palas do Rey we saw a sandwich shop across the street and decided to stop for lunch.
Seated next to us was an American and as we chatted we asked the most common questions heard on the Camino”where did you start?” and “when did you start?”
Tuckers answer was “I started in France”. Now typically when we have asked the second question “when did you start” we hear “September the ___th” or in one case it was August. We were rather surprised when Tucker responded “5 years ago…!”
Tucker is a poet and editor from Asheville, NC and is a self described “heavy man” and as such he travels about 8 miles a day and tries to be done each day by noon or one o’clock.
Given time allotted he decided to travel the Camino in sections when he was free each year and we were lucky enough to meet this charming gentleman on the year he would finally realize his goal!
It was another of those chance meetings and after finishing lunch and saying our goodbyes we realized that given the difference in pace the odds were overwhelming this was one new friend we would not see again along the Camino.
In contrast to Tucker there was Jennifer and Duane. Duane is a doctor with a practice in Portland and Jennifer has many international treks in the several hundred mile category.
Duane, having been kept away from Jennifer’s travels by his practice (and perhaps, truth be known, a lesser desire to walk places that one could reach by motor transportation) was accompanying Jennifer for the first time.
Jennifer and Duane agreed to do the last 100 km of the Camino and although they walked faster than we do they also seemed to take more breaks (at Duane’s request I’m sure) so we ran into each other several times today.
They were easy to spot, Jennifer had the only “self supporting” umbrella contraption we have seen on the trail so she could be seen from quite a distance and got A LOT of peculiar sideways looks.

The last time we saw Jennifer and Duane yesterday we asked where they were headed “ we are going to try to get to Leboreiro then catch a cab to Casanova”. “BUT YOU’VE PASSED CASANOVA SEVERAL KM BACK””
“Oh, we know that. Our bags are in Casanova but we had some extra time today so we figured we’d get in some more hiking, take a cab BACK to our lodging and then get a cab in the morning to bring us back to where we left off. GIVES US A HEAD START ON TOMORROW WITHOUT CHEATING THE TRAIL”!!! Only on the Camino!!
Today’s profile. {CAPTION}


Buen Camino

Day 4

By | Miles for Makena

Day 4 began with what we planned to be an “easy” day, starting at full daylight around 9am.

We had coffee, toast and conversation with the other pilgrims and figured we would take a few minutes to catch up the blog from the previous 2 days. An hour and a half later (and an hour and a half behind schedule) we were finally on our way 😊

As has become the norm the day greeted us with a nearly vertical climb from Portomarín to Veritas de Naron, 7 miles of almost exclusively uphill climb! (See portion below starting with Portomarín)

Notwithstanding the demands of the climb it was filled, again, with wonderful people and villages that seem straight out of the 1st century.

In addition we found periodic shade from the trees of an ancient forest and wondered what happened to these woods stripped of life by fire; we guessed and made up stories to fill the time as we walked but never found an answer.

We tried several times to find a way to put perspective into the photo above but you simply can’t see the steepness nor the length of this path.

Imagine going through hundred of yards of irregular stone and add to it an incline of 40 or 50 degrees; adventure? Yes. Fun? Nope.

The miraculous thing was that, as if by intention, as we exited the rock cluttered pass we were greeted by a stone arrangement that brought smiles to both our faces after some of the “less genteel” comments about the path made just moments before!

he final phase of the day led us to Airexe and a welcoming host with a smile, a hot meal, a warm shower and a warm bed.

Buen Camino

Day Two & Three

By | Miles for Makena

Up at 7 and stretching out some newly found muscles and oiling some joints we were unaware existed, we packed our bags had a breakfast of toast, jam and traditional European coffee and said goodbye to the pilgrims we met over dinner and the small town of Triacastela and headed to Sarria.

Brenda in “the buff” getting ready to head for Sarria.

As you can see in the profile below we started the day, as it appears we will start everyday, with a vertical trek up into the countryside.

Most of our uphill climbs for day 1 and 2 followed the same 40-50 degree incline as you see from Triacastela to alto de Riocabov . At the end day 2 we found that the downhill incline could be MUCH worse as it was so steep, damp and the trail covered with loose gravel you were forced to use your legs as “brakes” for miles of the downhill portion.

Notwithstanding the vertical nature of the days travels we did find some more inviting areas and the countryside, villages, villagers and Pilgrims continued to be amazing and inviting.

BELOW: one of the level stretches between climbs.

One of the many ancient agricultural villages we trekked through in the hills above Triacastela.


Leaving Triacastela was the first of many challenges for Day 3. From our door step forward the first 13 miles of the day ( see the profile showing 27,6K below) Initially steep and rarely under a 30 degree grade, it was truly an uphill climb all day.

Although today was a tough day of hiking it was beautiful weather, beautiful countryside and Brenda spending lots of time stepping around the poop on the street 🙂

BELOW: One of the many beautiful streams and bridges we encountered throughout the day.


After three days in the 16 to 17 mile range tomorrow will be a short day of only about 10 or 11 miles.

Today was just over 17 miles. But brutal walking over and between huge stones (4-7”) in what seemed to be washed out creek beds while dealing with up and down inclines of 35 to 50 degrees practically all day. VERY LITTLE level ground today.

All that having been said we still encountered this amazingly beautiful setting! A ancient, hand laid, stone bridge in the middle of a wooded dell which has supported the feet of millions of Pilgrims over 2,000 years.

Buen Camino

Day One

By | Miles for Makena

O Cebreiro was our starting point on day one. A small village of stone buildings, lodges, a few taverns/restaurants and a charming church where we obtain the first stamp on our “Pilgrims Passport “. 2 stamps a day are required to certify your pilgrimage. (See photo below)

On our first night in O Cebreiro We met a threesome, Barbara and Bill who are husband and wife and their friend Dave who were on the trail together.

They were from Palm Springs and hike regularly together. Barbara and Bill started in France in September and Dave met up with them in O Cebreiro  joining them the same day that we arrived.

We met in a restaurant and share dinner and Barbara and Bill gave us thoughts, insights and tips on the Camino. It was our first of several great experiences with pilgrims on our very first day.

Above the lodge we stayed in in O Cebreiro
Below our first step on the trail.

Along the way we met a group of Korean pilgrims from Seoul who all but adopted us 😊. As we “leap frogged” past each other along the trail the shared ( in broken English) their time on the trail, photos of their families and as we went our separate ways a gift pendant and a note to “friends” met on the Camino

Below “Julie” our Korean friend.

One of The many country chapels along the way.

Lunch at the only sizable eatery we saw on day one between O Cebreiro and Triacastela.

We were pleasantly surprised that although many of the trails, more or less, paralleled the highways they were far enough off the road as to be unseen and unheard  and we spent hours on beautiful, well-traveled trails through the agricultural lands of Spain.

At days end We were both exhausted and re-invigorated, happy to finally be on the trail and moved by both the experience and the fellow travelers  encountered on day one.

Below is a screenshot from our Apple “Activity” application to provide an indication of what our first day activity totaled.

Just over 16 miles on steep  uphill and downhill terrain and as I write this post the sun is coming up we are finishing breakfast and preparing to start another day.

Buen Camino


By | Miles for Makena



Having taken care (we hope) of the feet I looked at the balance of my apparel with the same critical eye used in my backpack decisions functionality, durability and weight!




When weight is a major consideration considering both quantity and quality becomes important, particularly with underwear.


 My question boiled down to this; “Do I get REALLY light underwear and carry several pairs (a pair a day) or do I get some that might be a little heavier but is designed for this kind of trek?”.


Design for this kind of trek is important. Although there are multiple companies that manufacture lightweight underwear many are not really designed for the concerns of long distance, ultra-light, limited washing facility hiking.


Ultimately I decided that EX-Officio Give and Go boxer briefs.


Weighing in at 2.4 oz per pair there are actually lighter men’s underwear available but the EX-Officio has no cotton (less bacterial growth), are made with 94% Nylon and 6% Spandex, include a breathable mesh for additional air flow and are treated with an anti-microbial.


These briefs can easily be washed in a sink and dry quickly without losing shape or  elasticity and without getting stiff and scratchy like cotton can sometime do.


With the anti-microbial they can (yes it may sound disgusting) be worn for multiple days (in a pinch) and with the quick drying advantage 2 pair should be enough for the entire hike and given the same criteria I will carry 2 their undershirts as well.



 LAYER, layer, layer. So, the lightweight stuff was easy for me.  I like Haynes Cool Dri Tee’s. I have some and you can’t get a T-Shirt that’s much lighter, durable and (HURRAY, finally) inexpensive, so into the backpack it goes.


So what would and initial layer look? An undershirt (or maybe 2) from Ex-Officio and a Haynes Cool Dri. On the bottom side we are both packing REI “Lightweight Bottoms”. These are light weight but warm and we intend to use them as long johns as well as addition warmth for nights in the alberques.


A little more warmth? Add a Magellan “Fish Gear” short sleeve, UV protective shirt. I like these because they are light, breathe very well, are UV protective and provide room for layering.


To add even more I can double the undershirts or and add a Columbia “Flashback” Windbreaker and if it’s really cold I am carrying  my Kokatak Polartec outer-core “T”.


I LOVE Polartec! I was first introduced to it when I was SCUBA diving in VA in the winter.

 Bottom temperatures were almost always in the high 30’s to high 40’s and air temps often just as cold! When climbing out of the COLD water into the COLD air I wanted a “wrap up” that was warm, durable and easy to put in a gear bag. Weighing in at only 8.0 ounces Polartec was/is ounce for ounce the best thing I can find to meet all these criteria.


My Kokatak weighs in at exactly 8 ounces and gives better insulation than many of my heavyweight winter jackets.


If even more is needed Brenda and I are both packing Frog Toggs ultra lite rain suits.

Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite II suits are constructed from an ultra-lightweight, waterproof, breathable, nonwoven polypropylene material. The patented bilaminate technology with “welded” waterproof seams and Frog Togg has unmatched sweat-free breathability. The compression packability of this suit allows it to pack down to storage pocket size, and it is perfect for backpacks.



Here is an item that was a real concern for me.


I live in shorts and denim (although when necessary I have some nice suits and I do clean up ok). How to get pants that will meet all the criteria I was looking for was a REAL challenge.


Light, durable, comfortable and functional PANTS??

I probably spent almost as much time on this item as I did on backpack and shoes! Looking, trying on comparing, weighing many, many pairs. After investigating, reading (trying on, weighing  etc.etc.etc) I found White Sierra men’s trail convertible pants.


I have had and looked at dozens of pairs of “convertible” pants and was never impressed with any of them; either the fabric was heavy and didn’t wick moisture or the fabric was ok but the “convertible” process became clunky after a few removals and reattachments; most of the few I actually bought ended up as shorts…period.


White Sierra is different. They are constructed of 100% quick drying nylon, have cargo pockets, back hook-and-loop pockets, and front slant pockets. They have UVA and UVB protection and the zipper is VERY WELL MADE and they weigh only 12.5 ounces. I am wearing a pair and packing a pair.


 This is a great product and worth adding to any back pack, suitcase or RV for anyone who likes to spend time outdoors.




 Although I prefer ball caps I decided that with the prospect of walking for hours in the sun I would opt for a full brim hat.


With a 2.75 inch waterproof  brim and detachable neck flap and breathable face protector (which I will probably leave behind) the Einskey sun hat was everything I was looking for and “all in” with all accessories it still only weighs 3.7 ounces.


The hat has a waterproof brim and is made with quick-drying polyester and an internal moisture wicking sweatband. The crown is ventilated and it’s pretty much crushproof so I can jamb it  in the backpack without crushing the brim.


In addition we are each carrying a convertible head/neck/face/wrist etc. “buff”.


For those unfamiliar a “buff” is a tubular bandanna that has way more features then a plain bandanna or simple headband. They come in many different materials and a wide variety of colors, the image show the many ways a “buff” can be used.  Versatile, handy and weighs in at only 1.5 ounces.


NEXT POST- Miscellaneous Items

Brenda’s Gear: Shoes and Socks

By | Miles for Makena

Brenda’s Gear: Shoes and Socks


The shoe selection is probably more important for me than the type of backpack.

A couple of years ago I had surgery on my right foot. What should have been a relatively easy recovery lasted months; my foot has never felt the same in any way. So after trying on LOTS of shoes, buying some and returning them I decided on the “Woman’s La Sportiva Spire GT” shoes.


Waterproof GORE-TEX® SURROUND® membranes

   Weight: 1 pound 8.2 oz
Protection from rain, mud and streams is a priority, but you don’t want to hike in sweaty plastic bags. The durable, waterproof GORE-TEX® SURROUND® tech in these shoes has patented vents to channel internal moisture and heat away from your feet and out of the shoes, so you stay dry and comfortable.

Vibram® XS Trek outsoles

Engineered to keep you stable on unpredictable terrain, these durable rubber outsoles deliver traction even when wet. They’re flexible and responsive—and they’re nonmarking, so you won’t get in trouble if you wear them inside.

Some of the Nitty Gritty on This Shoe:

  • It’s not cheap – will cost you around $190. I purchased these at REI.
  • Waterproof was a must for me because rain in Spain in October-November is probably a YES.
  • It’s a real hiking shoe ankle high, lace up
  • The ventilation outlets into the mid soles that are designed to give structure and torsional stability for comfort. This is real good for me since I walk weird after my foot surgery.
  • channels are within the foot bed. My feet sweat a lot and this should help. If you hold the shoe up you can actually seethrough the channels on the bottom.

If you take a look at this you’ll see all the things that could get hurt, broken, strained and pulled in your foot.  I’m doing all I can to avoid any of that and also went to THE GOOD FEET STORE.

I purchased one item at this store to help me with my walk:

  • Clear Flex 5 ArchSupport – sit down when you hear this. It cost about as much as the backpack and hiking shoes. – a whopping $369.95.  But it is working. I’m not getting as much pain in my foot, ankles and lower back. These are transferable so I take them out and use them in all shoes.

This is customized and re-fitted if necessary to your foot. So you may have to go back if the fit doesn’t feel right or something is bothering you after the initial visit. They have great customer service and my particular contact has been good with follow.

You can buy those Dr. Scholl’s in any drugstore these days and I have, but they never worked for me, so thus my wonderful husband put me on to these guys.







Oh My!  So Many to Choose From!

After reading through the Camino de Santiago blog and soliciting feedback from people who have done the hike, I selected Injinji liner and hiker crew socks.


·         2 piece set includes a thin CoolMax toesock liner, with an outer NuWool fitted sock for extra cushion

·         Constructed of Nuwool – an Australian Merino wool that minimizes moisture and friction buildup

·         Individual anatomic toe sleeves form a thin anti-blister membrane between toes to eliminate skin-against-skin friction

·         Ideal for every hiking adventure, from short hikes to multi-day backpacking trips


It’s All About the Feet- Maybe

By | Miles for Makena


As we previously mentioned, over and over (more than “weather”, more than “elevations”, more than “weariness”) we heard and read about those for whom this trek was ruined by “BLISTERS”; BIG, nasty, painful BLISTERS. So we decided, early on, to spend plenty of time trying to ensure that we took every reasonable action to limit or eliminate “BLISTERS”.


     Altra Lone Peak 3.5  It started with the shoe selection.


Once again we look and looked. We got lot’s of opinions and tried on lots of shoes. One thing we found out for sure, there were PLENTY of opinions.

Many opined that “Hiking Shoes” were the way to go, others said tennis style shoes and others said runners. Having never participated in this type of hike we decided to speak to someone who had.


Following a lecture from Bill and Sue Holzer, a couple about our age, who had hiked the trail we found that they were not bashful about giving their opinion. 


NO HIKING SHOES! As avid hikers they knew well the many benefits of hiking shoes for “mountain and wilderness hiking”; the El Camino is neither. It was their feeling that, since the El Camino was primarily worn trails, cultivated land and small towns and villages,  the weight, tread and high ankle was unnecessary. For the same reasons they believed that tennis style shoe or “sneakers” didn’t typically have enough tread and support for the periodic “rough spots” along the trail.


The Holzers believed they found the best alternative which provided all the attributes necessary to handle the varied terrain as well as provide support and comfort; the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 “Trail Runner” style shoe.


The Altra Lone Peak 3.5 offers drainage holes to keep feet dry, a 4-point gaiter system to keep dirt and rocks out, and mesh upper for enhanced durability. Although at first look the Altra looked as though the  “all terrain” tread on the bottom would be heavy and possibly uncomfortable I decided to try them on and was very pleasantly surprised.


To start, the shoe is VERY comfortable. It has a wide “toe box” to keep your toes from rubbing against each other which combined with excellent insole and arch support make them as comfortable as your “worn in” favorite sneakers. Once on I found that the distribution of the tread surface was so perfect that, when walking, it was impossible to tell there was any tread at all!

 When I combined the fact that they were comfortable and the all terrain tread made them multi-surface friendly with the fact that they only weighed 1 ½ pounds for the pair it seemed like they were right; they’re the shoes I chose.




 We have often walked and hiked 10+ miles a day and have never had a problem with blisters, however we have rarely done so day after day. Given this history I wasn’t really worried about blisters until we heard about it being such a huge problem, even for experienced hikers, on the El Camino; so we sought preventative measures.




Liners. Never used them/never thought about them…now I have them and I like them.


We decided on the Injinji liner. Consider them “underwear” for your feet. 


Underwear acts as a barrier between you and your outer clothing, fitting tighter than you outerwear and reducing chaffing, rubbing and uncomfortable contact with seams etc., sock liners do the same and more. The Injinji liner fits each toe and helps defend against toes rubbing together (read “BLISTERS”) and moisture buildup, keeping feet dryer and more comfortable. We selected the lighter version since the weather was moderate and we can add additional warmth if necessary with a heavier sock on colder days.




 I don’t consider myself cheap, but I come from a middle class family and (I guess) on some things  I have middle class tastes (this doesn’t include my wife 😊). 


There are a couple of items of clothing I can honestly say I have never paid over $20 a pair for; specifically underwear (story later) and socks. If anyone would have ever told me I would spend the better part of $40 for a pair of socks I would have said they don’t know me very well, I guess things change 😊.


The socks we settled on we the X-SOCKS  Trekking Extreme Light. I can’t do a better job of describing them than the manufacturer.


“EXTREMELY LIGHT, EXTREMELY CONVINCING: BEST IN TEST TIMES TWO. The foot that sits snugly in a shoe warms up quickly and starts to sweat. The X-SOCKS® Extreme optimally transports warmth and moisture away. Special features: The AirGuide functions as a spacer and is placed along the AirConditioning Channel® to facilitate continual air circulation. The patented AirCool Stripes under the soles also allow temperature-regulating fresh air to circulate. Manufactured with a light touch but still technically perfect, it creates a typical X-SOCKS® “bare foot“ environment.”


Every word of the above quote accurately describes the feel and impact of this sock, great feel, “air conditioned” and dry! Awesome socks and worth the price as the “go to” sock for hiking.



 image022.png@01D46215.6D9D2F00” _mf_state=”2″ title=”null” action=”null” style=”width: 1.625in; height: 1.6145in;”>

 image024.png@01D46215.6D9D2F00” _mf_state=”2″ title=”null” action=”null” style=”width: 1.2916in; height: 1.427in;”>Other items we are packing just to be safe include Gold Bond Foot Powder and several sizes of  Compeed  Blister Plasters.


Gold Bond is an old stand by and worth the extra ounce or so to carry and Compeed is new to both of us but comes highly recommended to limit the damage should a blister start.


Compeed Blister Plasters uses hydrocolloid technology which is able to absorb moisture from the blister which helps to create a better environment to prevent further damage and promote healing. These plasters are advertised to stay in place for several days, preventing rubbing and protecting the healing skin; I honestly hope I don’t have to validate these claims during our trek!



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