Camino Gear

Been going back and forth on how to describe my experience. On one hand, I thought about describing every area I walked through, with pictures and witty anecdotes from handwritten journal but then I remembered that I didn’t like to read those myself when planning for the walk since I wanted a truly organic experience without some other persons’ bias and stories in my head.

I decided I’d write it, at least to begin with, in a way I wish others would have written it. With plain facts about gear: what I brought and wish I hadn’t (and ended up sending off) and what I wish I had brought and hadn’t. 

If you read this in preparation for doing your own Camino and are wondering about anything I might have missed or are just curious about something else, don’t hesitate to comment and ask!

I started just before the main heat wave begun smack middle of summer (begun May 11 and completed June 22) and had heard the Pyrenees could be cold so brought my insulated Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket, North Face gloves and Thinsulate hat which I only wore once, climbing the Pyrenees with cold ass gusty winds and never wore any of those again for rest of trip. 

I brought 3 pairs Injinji toe socks (love, love, love Injinji!) which was a bit overkill. Sent one pair off, along with my Ursack bear bag (SO unnecessary, even if camping), compass, my extra bandanna and sun hat (even when sunny, my headband was sufficient and I hate hats so never wore it although I saw plenty of people wearing theirs). I’d also been hoping to cowboy camp along the way, which I didn’t do (the only times I saw chances to do it, rain was in the forecast so, for obvious reasons, decided against it) so sent my tent footprint – which I use under my sleeping pad – off as well.

I did NOT bring my tent for which I was happy about since I probably would’ve used it only once, if that. I was advised by some lovely ladies who’d done their pilgrimage before me so thought I should note that.

I did bring:

1 Nike Dri-Fit pants (best pants ever!)

1 Columbia sport tights (for when I do laundry or when I feel like switching things up)

1 tank top

1 shirt for laundry time

2 pairs of Ex Officio undies which are much much better than regular cotton underwear.

1 pair of Bedrock Sandals for when my foot would swell and would be too painful to walk in my trail runners. Also great for the showers and walking around town. Lightweight and stylish.

1 pair of Brooks Cascadias trail runners (my walking/hiking shoe of choice since it usually accommodates my foot swelling).

1 Buff and another UV headband (didn’t need two in the end since only wore one entire time)

2 pairs of Injinji socks (I switch socks on super hot days to prevent blisters)

1 small Therm a Rest Zlite sleeping pad (not many people need a pad but I elevate my feet every 8km or so and use it constantly)

1 Sleeping Bag (10 degree Zpacks bag so super lightweight)

1 lightweight camping pillow (Sea to Summit Aeros) which honestly probably wasn’t necessary but my neck hated the pillows offered in albergues so I’m glad I brought mine.

1 super lightweight (Deuce of Spades brand) trowel which I didn’t use once but felt good to have, should I have an uncontrollable urge to poop somewhere outdoors.

1 bandanna dangling from pack for pee reasons (or as some lady and on the PCT 2 years ago called it: “vajanky”: like “vagina” and “hanky” Lol).

My trusty Black Diamond trekking poles (brought 2 extra tips for which I was grateful for since I ended up needing them both)

My Osprey Ariel 65L (total overkill on the size by the way but I love my pack too much to trade her for a smaller one I have. I probably could have made a 38L fit).

Osprey pack rain cover

Outdoor Research Helium rain jacket

Electronics: 1 Anker 20,000mAh external battery along with converter and charger for phone and battery. Side note: The 20,00mAh was probably too much. A 10,000mAh would’ve been sufficient. If you’re like me and absolutely have to have phone battery life, it’s worth its weight. Some albergues have very very few outlets to charge on and having an external battery makes life so much easier in the long run in those instances.

I also brought my tele, wide and fisheye lens from Moment for my phone (see my Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/skahlua912 . DEFINITELY worth their weight, in my opinion).

Medical supplies: bottle of ibuprofen, sewing needle and thread (for both blisters and any clothes or gear that might need a stitch), antiseptic towelettes, bandaids and Compheed anti blister pads and some moleskin). Also Electro Mix electrolytes (swear by them…. better than Nuun and other more expensive electrolytes, for me personally anyway). 

Hygienic supplies: to go travel sized toothbrush and paste, Sea to Summit multipurpose soap used as shampoo, body wash AND laundry detergent, rosemary and lavender tonic for cramping, relaxation when able to take baths and to repel bed bugs, coconut oil for hair, face and body lotion, contact lens shit and comb.

Wish I’d brought and ended up buying:

My anti-diarrhea pills/activated charcoal

Smaller, lightweight backpack to use while in towns

Poncho 

More of my favorite protein bars (I could only find muesli or granola bars at the stores in Spain)

Ultimately though, the Camino has services for sending your backpack on to next albergue you plan on staying at so you can bring as much as you want if you’d rather have a more luxurious experience. Or, opposite of that,  if you’d rather have a more minimalistic journey, you could go without more than 1/2 of what I brought and still be fine.

The Camino has stores, albergues, cafes and water stops along with towns throughout the day. Not one day will there be nothing. I prepared a bit more for the backcountry which the Camino is most definitely NOT! Lol

Will write more later about the beautiful people I met along the way and epiphanies I had along the way.

Here are some pics:
The last day, when you first get a peak of the Santiago de Compostela cathedral 👇🏻
The first day, when carrying a bunch of unnecessary stuff and pack is heavy 👇🏻
My sweaty selfie 👇🏻
Blister resolution 😳👇🏻

2 Days left until Camino trip!

I don’t have anything packed, think I have some sort of an infection since it feels like I’m fighting off sickness,  I’m exhausted and supposed to see people before I go, buy some last minute shit and still weigh gear and tweak it out.

Looks like I’m going to bring only one additional (lightweight) outfit for my trip which means for France, Finland and Corfu, I’m going to be in only 1 of 2 outfits which is different than the PCT since, there, id just be in the backcountry so couldn’t give two shits how stinky or stylish I was. Hahahaha

To be honest, I’ve been super depressed especially since a friend recently committed suicide and just one bad thing after another seems to just happen since to compound the tragic news. I don’t even really want to go but I know doing the Camino will be good for my soul. At this moment though, I doubt it’ll hit me until I’m taking my first couple of steps on the Camino or get my pilgrim passport. 

A little worried that this disassociated feeling will stay with me abroad and that I won’t feel the magic that will undoubtedly be all around me. If I don’t get any healing from this trip, I’m truly scared that my depression will get the better of me and that I’ll give up trying to live in this crazy world. Because if shocking your mind awake with new beautiful landscapes and meeting new people doesn’t do it, what will?

But one day at a time. Today, doctor and REI last minute shopping and starting of packing.

I was told that bringing a tent on the Camino is not necessary… and I do enjoy cowboy camping so thinking of leaving my tent. Can anyone vouch for this? It’s only slightly over 1 lb so still debating whether to bring it or not…

Random Musings

I feel like anyone with a bunion is like 70+ years old but apparently I have one and it’s pretty painful. I have health insurance which would cover it but recovery is supposed to be a bitch and will take around a year. I can’t afford to not do anything for another year. I think I’ll go certifiably crazy and be institutionalized for massive stir-craziness.

I have several ideas as to my Euro-trip plans (which, just before, I’ll be doing the Trans Catalina Trail with some good friends for a shakedown backpacking/hiking trip) which I’ll just spout off here. If anyone has any ideas as to activities or people/places to see at any stage of my proposed itinerary, feel free to message me or comment! I love that, in this social media age, finding amazing (and cheap) places to stay, etc, is just a little bit of networking away.

So, I’ll fly into Paris, see uncle and fam and maybe tourist it up for a couple of days before catching the train and doing the Camino pilgrimage. From there, I’m thinking I’ll fly into Corfu, stay there for a few weeks and then fly to Helsinki and stay there for a few weeks and then fly back to LA, get my shit and my van and drive up to Yellowstone for a seasonal job in beginning of August (I got a job at Yellowstone!) to save up some money and gather my thoughts as to what I’ll be doing after that.

It’s a pretty packed itinerary. I’m now having issues with my car, have to change a flight (which is becoming an issue as they won’t refund or change dates without a huge $400 fee. Might be cheaper to just get a new flight altogether and then hope the original flight, which was to fly from Helsinki to LAX in September, gets cancelled and I get a refund then. That’s happened to me once before) and money is leaking out of my savings left and right but this has to be done.

Looking into possibly working in Corfu to pay for a room whilst also exploring but they require a whole season of work which I can’t afford to do. We shall see though. I did ask if I can just work to stay for 3 weeks and am waiting for a response.

These are at least all good problems, in the sense that I wasn’t decapitated or something more serious and that it’s for a trip that’s bound to be once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just need to put my head down and work and NOT go out to eat or buy additional things other than for the trip itself.

 

Hiking…

I love hiking but since getting injured on the PCT in 2015 and only getting 648 miles in, I’ve lost a lot of my lust for the actual hiking part.

I’ve been going to therapy too and it’s like my entire life has been unraveling before my eyes. Everything I thought I knew and was sure of has shifted and new perspectives and feelings have taken over. It’s an extremely painful yet enlightening time for me.

Many of my self-sabotaging ways came from toxic shame. Defined roughly as: ” When shame becomes toxic, it can ruin our lives. Everyone experiences shame at one time another. It’s an emotion with physical symptoms like any other that come and go, but when it’s severe, it can be extremely painful. … Unlike ordinary shame, “internalized shame” hangs around and alters our self-image” (https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-toxic-shame/). Realizing a lot of fucked up shit has happened to me (and not because of me) when I was young, has helped me to stop drinking so much (I no longer crave it as I did) and has helped to appease the suicidal urges.

I’ve always prided myself in being so independent but I’m realizing that being this obsessively solo/independent chick is actually just as bad as being a needy woman. There is no balance and I’m finding myself so lonely. I’m trying to open up to others and let myself be helped by others.

While I used to LOVE hiking solo, I’ve been mostly wanting to hike with others but with all the recent medical issues (surgery, forced temporary early menopause, etc), my fitness level is so bad that I feel like I’ve been slowing people down – especially on uphill – and holding them back from enjoying themselves. Will just have to find super slow people to hike with for now. I’ve been forcing myself at least once a week to hike SOME PLACE, doesn’t matter what. I just haven’t been doing it 4-5 nights (almost 30 miles) weekly like I was for my PCT prep years back.

My foot is still also swelling after 5-6 miles on day hikes. Will have to figure that out and go on a crazy fitness regime starting New Year so I can be ready for Camino de Santiago which I’m thinking I’ll start late April next year. Research for it has already begun. Super stoked! With my tax return, will just book a non-refundable flight and, that way, I’m forced to go. Hahaha. No excuses!

Howdy, my lovely readers!

I can’t believe I left that last depressing blog post about depression as my last post without an update!

SO much has been happening, guys. SOOOOO much. I don’t even know where to begin – I was stuck in NC for a while, with no car and no wifi (so couldn’t even do my remote accounting work). I thought I was getting a loan but that fell through. My friend who I was staying with somehow found a flight deal from Atlanta to LA for $100. Seemed unreal, turned out totally legit. Flew back to LA, stayed with old roommate for almost a month until he got a job in Germany and had to move family into the house. I also found a full time job on top of part time one.

I found a place through Craigslist. A seemingly quirky lady with a pirate themed pool in the back. That sealed the deal for me. Who DOESN’T like a pirate themed pool area!?! haha.

I gave her money early upon her request so I can get the room. Moved in, didn’t get the paperwork signed because her printer was either wonky one day or out of ink the next and she refused to send it to me at work. Long story short, she totally screwed me over. Ended up being a raging alcoholic with bipolar tendencies. She took my deposit and made the place a living hell to live in. So much so that within 2 weeks, I was already working out getting a van to live out of. At first, I thought it was just me. I mean, it’s not possible to meet TWO living psychos in a 6 month period. At that point, you should look within, I would think were someone else telling me these crazy stories I’ve experienced. But, TRUUUUST ME, it was her. Cops were called on her by some other prospective tenants for same shit. Another tenant while I was there left for the same reason.

It really brought up some bullying shit I experienced at the boarding school I used to be at. I had totally forgotten the details but the anxiety triggered them since it was so similar. I was placed in the “popular” dorm when I moved to the school. Of course, being a book nerd, they didn’t want me there and requested their more popular friends. The teachers refused to place me elsewhere so they took it out on me. Think “Bad Girls Club” but with older 12-13 yr olds picking on a 10 year old. They’d put my shit outside, yell and tease me constantly and even once got someone with a ton of lice in their head to roll around on my bed so I wouldn’t sleep there. I’d always sleep with one eye open with a pounding heart, worried they’d cut my hair or move my shit while I slept. That was the time I pissed in my bed too. Never did it before or after that period. Oh, good ol’ days! Weird how memories are so buried until a similar feeling, scent or views bring them out again.

Aaaaanywayyyyyssss… I digress. The good that came from all that recent apartment nonsense was that I DID find a Toyota Sienna minivan, custom fit with a mattress, stove and a faucet. All self sufficient – no hook ups needed. It took walking through hell and high water and being flogged for my bad credit but I finally figured out how to get it and actually got it. YAYYYYY!!!

That means, NO more living paycheck to paycheck. I can pay people back AND save for the Camino de Santiago next year amongst other adventures. SO stoked.

I like to compartmentalize so will be recording my version of van life on a different blog on WordPress: http://www.forthewanderers.com . Please feel free to visit me there.

I’d like to keep this blog specifically for my hiking endeavors.

FAQ

Posted this on FB but wanted to put it on here, too so it’s easily found for my peeps. I keep getting barraged with similar questions and just have no time to respond to everyone. So, here it goes:

Sorry, I haven’t been able to respond to everybody so decided to just do an FAQ announcement of sorts: 

 1) Q: Why did Saina buzz her hair? Is she going crazy and having a Britney Spears meltdown? A: No, I’m not going crazy. I mean, I’m already crazy so what difference does it make? Plus, I’m doing a 4-6 month long hiking trek – or until $ runs out – so it’s for practical purposes, as well since nobody likes greasy, dirty and smelly hair that is too short to put in a sloppy bun and too long to ignore. 

 2) Q: What is this mysterious hike you speak of, Saina? A: I’ve been planning and prepping to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for the last 2 years. For more info about the trail: see the attached link. 

 2 1/2) Q: How long does this trip take? A: Depends on my speed and how many miles I hike a day and how many slack days – also known as “zero days” where I don’t hike at all, usually to rest at a resupply town – I take. So I can’t answer you on that just yet, since I don’t know how my body will respond to the day to day to day strain on my short chubby feet. Hoping to finish by 30th birthday which is on September 12th. 

 3) Q: Are you bringing a gun on the trail, Saina? A: NO! Way too heavy and totally unnecessary.

 4) Q: But WHYYYYY, Saina? A: Because I love hiking. If you haven’t gotten sick of my nature posts from all my previous hiking pics, I’d be surprised. Pretty sure some friends unfollowed me on Instagram because of it. I can’t blame them. wink emoticon 

 5) Q: Are you going all by your lonesome? A: I am starting with a friend – someone I’ve hiked with before and actually met through Instagram through our love of the PCT and because we have the same Osprey Packs – for the first 50ish miles.She’s been amazing enough to offer to drive me to the Mexican border, where we will start. After that, yes, the plan is to go solo. 

 6) Q: But what about mountain lions? A: What about them? They exist, yes. 

 6 1/2: Q: BUT BEARS!!!! A: same as above. I’m also not going to be seeking them out and playing with them like the Grizzly Man dude.

 7) Q: Are you scared? A: Obviously. 

 8) Q: What’d you do to prepare (not actually a question anybody has asked but I’m pretending it is so I can show off a tad)? And are you prepared? (2 questions but answered in the same breath) A: I don’t think you can truly be prepared for something like this. Something so seemingly daunting and insane but I did do First Aid/CPR certification, logged 1232 miles of hiking just last year alone – per my MapMyFitness app (which sometimes isn’t 100% accurate but that’s still a lot, even if you took a hundred or two miles from that figure), Did an insane 2 day Wilderness First Aid course at REI where I learned a buttload and did a compass and top map reading class as well while researching gear, buying a shitload of gear, testing it out, tweaking it, etc. So it has given me more confidence going in, especially alone. 

 9) Q: Can I stay in touch with you? A: Yes! My number will remain unchanged. But I won’t be on the phone very much and it’ll be on airplane mode. If you want to see where I’m at and maybe follow my adventures (or not), you can see the stuff I post on my IG:www.instagram.com/skahlua912 . Or if you want to hear me complain and talk about stuff, I’ll be trying to keep my blog current:www.hikingthepainaway.com (which is this blog you’re currently on ;)). 

 10) Q: What’re you going to do after this? A: I have no clue. Life is just a blank book for me right now. Gotta start writing my book page by page now. So, as terrifying it is for me, I’m more excited than anything. 

 Hope that answers the main questions. I love you all!!! If I die, Diva, you can have my iTunes songs – all 40,000+ of them. Allison Russell, you can have all my hiking gear, Mirriam Rogers and Katherine Gladney, you’ll probably want my hundreds of pictures of you/us. You guys can also take all my books. Amy Carr, you can have all my cowboy boots and shoes cuz you’re the only person who has size 6ish feet like I do. Everyone else, I still love you but I don’t have anything else to give since I sold or gave away almost everything else for this trip.

I start tomorrow, super early so have to wrap up the last of packing. Adios amigos!

Got the hair buzzed!!!

Today has been insane and to top it off, I finally got my hair buzzed. People, even my roommate, didn’t believe I was going through with it! I thought I’d feel completely de-feminized (is that a word?) but I don’t. Yay!! And it will be so easy to maintain on the trail. Super stoked. And, best of all, it was my beautiful step sister who offered to do it which made it so fun (I totally thought I’d cry, not gonna lie). ❤️❤️