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 😳👇🏻

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). ❤️❤️

   

     

Insanity!!!!!

I can hardly sleep. Been up since 7:30, going through stuff – throwing them away, packing. Then, trying to edit my pack, I realized I’m carrying wayyyyyyyy too much food, considering there are cheeseburgers and water after the first 20 miles (a little over 32kilometers for you Europeans). So now, am actually sending a few resupply boxes even though I wasn’t intending on it (Mt Laguna, Warner Springs, Ziggy & the Bear). Will be sending my friends in Idyllwild and Big Bear some stuff too. Probably won’t even want 1/2 of it by the time I reach them but oh well!! 🙂 

My place looks like a PCT tornado hit it (and this is after I threw stuff away!!)

   

I’m such a blob and I have too much to do

Here I go again about my fatness. I NEED TO STOP BEATING MYSELF UP!!!! I apologize to you, dear reader, for the repetitive nature of this topic. I’ll try to shut up about it but since it’s in my head almost 24/7, it’s hard not to. Plus, it’s MY blog so I should be able to bitch about what I want, right?

In the spirit of moving away from that topic :…. So, this lovely woman from a local TV station was doing articles about the PCT and women hiking it and all that and she asked if she could video me for it. Despite all my insecurities about my weight since my IUD, I said “yes”. I almost regret it now, seeing how fat I am on video but she did a great job on the article so am going to share it anyway, for friends and family to see. If anything, there’ll be a good “BEFORE” and “AFTER” PCT pics. hahaha… the “PCT Diet”. lol.

And I sound like SUCH a valley girl!!!? Is that REALLY how I sound???? OMG! I’m just glad she didn’t post me going full blown hormonal on the video (I just lost it and was crying and cracking up at the same time. If anybody saw it, they’d think I was completely insane! hahaha).

Link for article and video here:  http://scvnews.com/2015/04/07/wild-movie-inspires-women-to-find-themselves-on-the-trail/

Oh, and I sold my car today – less than 24 hours after posting about it and to the first buyer. Can you tell I was motivated to sell it? I got $400 less than what I posted it for but was about the price range I was thinking. Am going to miss my cute little car. But she’s going to a cute-ass family who’ll respect her. Weird how attached we become to material objects, no?

My head is spinning with everything I have to do. Still have to pack, shave my head, see my friend, clean up my place, finish a couple of resupplies for the first section, finish reading Yogi’s PCT handbook, send out the resupplies and some supplies to friend in Idyllwild and Big Bear. And I wanted to fit some more hiking in with my pack weight but that doesn’t even appear to be feasible at this point. Despite all this, I’m just sitting down, writing this blog and reading my friend Kali’s blog who’s out on the trail now instead- her blog is: https://ithinkilltakeawalk.wordpress.com/ in case you want to follow someone else that’s awesome. How am I supposed to catch up to her? But I must.

Ok, I think it’s time I stand up and get back to boxes and laundry and packing and cleaning and going crazy and just wishing it’d all magically come together for me.

What’s the opposite of a hoarder?

Within 20 minutes, I had these huge bags full of clothes and shoes and trunk is now full of stuff to donate to the nearest domestic violence place. 

  

I was seriously tempted to just put everything in bags and donate it all but I had to restrain myself. I had to keep reminding myself that I’ll be coming back so I have to have some semblance of a wardrobe left. 

What’s the opposite of a hoarder? Whatever it is, I think it’d describe me. 

Feels good to get that done; though I’m sure I’ll end up chucking even more material shit out once I’m boxing things up.  The one thing I can’t seem to throw away are my poetry books and CDs (yes, I have most of them in my iTunes but still!!!!). 

So much to do. Bought last minute small items like super glue, platypus (apparently the Platy bottle fits with the grooves on my Sawyer Squeeze, unlike my Smartwater bottles so worth getting it), more snacks, etc.

On another planning note: I looked at Craig’s PCT planner today and it says, at my estimated plan, I wouldn’t get to to the Southern Terminus until Sep 20th which is 8 days after my birthday and has no zeroes taken into account so I realized I really will have to boogie. Was hoping I could cruise a bit at the start but might have to step it up. But we’ll see. I’m not going to try to figure that out until I get closer and know my body’s stamina for the day to day hiking. 

Will keep you posted! 

Embracing It All

I was driving 3-4 weeks ago on the 2 (freeway) to meet a new friend to hike. An Imagine Dragons song came on and I started crying (I blame it on the hormones). I felt this tremendous sense of ugliness, like I was the ugliest creature on Earth, being this fat. Like I would never be someone that inspired such a beautiful song. Then a side thought popped in my head “at least I have my beautiful blonde hair”. This satisfied me for about a nanosecond but then I had this sudden and undeniable urge to shave it all off.

And then it dawned on me: I’m shaving my head for the trail. I’ve wanted to do it for over a decade, since Sinead O’Connor and having watched the G.I. Jane movie so why not? I’m already in this and there’s no turning back anyway so why not go all out and do it all? Why not take away the last vestiges of my vanity? 

Plus, on the practical end, I won’t have to deal with heavy and greasy hair on the trail. It will be sooooo easy to clean. Fuck it if I might have a lumpy head. I truly don’t care if I do!

Mind you, this all took place in the span of about a minute and the Imagine Dragons “Shots” song  was still playing and I just listened to it on repeat and cried in relief the rest of the drive. Something about embracing my self-hatred in this accepting way made me feel so free. I’m doing something I’ve never had the balls to do before!!! Hot diggety dog!! Yes!

Pictures to come, my readers. Beware, there might be tears!