Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail

Celebrating Life

 

During July the theme has been 31 days to focus on YOU and whilst we are only just over half-way I wanted to give you a taste of what to expect in August.  My August theme will be all about Celebrating Life Now!  Not waiting until….BUT celebrating and loving your life NOW!

I will be celebrating my 60th birthday in August and thought it was time for us all to celebrate life, love and friends.

Why wait for a specific event to celebrate?  Just celebrate for 31 days in August.

My guest today is a favourite of you all, Donna Connelly from Retirement Reflections.  Donna has been a guest before and wrote about ‘Building Walking into your Lifestyle’ In that post, Donna explained about how she and her husband were training for the Camino Walk in Spain.

In this post, Donna will be sharing with us Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail.  To celebrate her husband’s birthday.

This is a perfect introduction for my August theme and hope that you will enjoy Donna’s thoughts.

Celebrating Life

Donna writes……

Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail.  To celebrate her husband’s birthday.

Congratulations to Sue on her upcoming 60th birthday! I love how for her birthday she has chosen to focus on celebrating life, being bold and courageous and challenging herself, and her readers, to try new things. I also love that she has invited a group of bloggers to join this theme and share their own stories.

Once again, Sue and I are definitely on the same page.

My husband, Richard, turns 70 this September. For his birthday, Richard and I have decided to take the leap, challenge ourselves and celebrate together by walking 700 km on the Camino Trail in Spain. We both love the Camino and have done two separate eight-day sections previously (you can check out posts on our last Camino experience here).

We had always wanted to walk the full Camino Frances but kept putting it off. Finally, we decided if we didn’t do it now, when would we do it?

Celebrating Life

Ready for his 70th birthday trek!

So, later this week, we fly to Paris, then to Biarritz, then bus to San Sebastian then to Najera, Spain to begin this journey.

Hiking the Camino Trail is a very personal experience.
There is no correct way to do it and no set distance that must be traveled (unless you want an official ‘Compostela Certificate’…then you must walk the last 100km of the trail to Santiago de Compostela…or bike the final 200 km).

Celebrating Life

Here’s our basic plan:

  • Begin walking from Najera, Spain (where we left of last year).
    • Instead of ending at the traditional Santiago de Compostela, we will walk to Finisterre and then on to Muxia(688 km in total…if no missteps or backtracking).
    • Each carry our own backpack (mine is 12 lbs, Richard’s is 17lbs) for the full trek.
    • Stay primarily in auberges (hostels). There’s nothing like sleeping with 40+ new best friends every night!

While champagne and cake may be a more traditional way to celebrate a milestone birthday, here are just a few of the things that we will be gaining/reminding ourselves:

  • The journey outweighs the destination.
    • There is incredible serenity in letting go, savoring each moment and living life more slowly.
    • Richard and I love being surrounded by positive, energetic people of all ages and cultures.
    • We need far fewer material goods than we currently have.
    • The physical and mental health benefits of walking are endless.
    • We can go for an extended time without being attached to our computers and phones. Really, who knew?
    * The Camino Trail is richly steeped in history. For example, for centuries, a Costa da Morte (Finisterre) was believed to be the ‘end of the world’–the place where the sun died and the worlds of the dead and the living became closer. In nearby Muxia, it has been said that the Virgin Marie visited the Apostle Santiago in a stone boat. Once in Muxia, her boat crashed and broke into pieces. Those pieces are believed to be the rocks that surround the Shrine that stands there today. Source

Celebrating Life

What better way to celebrate your birthday than with so many ‘new best friends’! And of course, we will celebrate with champagne and cake with our family and friends once we return. It’s a win-win!

People hike the Camino Trail for a multitude of different personal reasons. Last year, we met an amazing young German woman hiking the full Camino Frances alone. She had recently graduated from high school. For years, her mother had wanted to hike the Camino herself but was always too busy – until she was too old and in poor health. Our young friend did not want that to happen to her. Richard and I do not want that to happen to us either.

We are thrilled (and I’m a little bit nervous) about our upcoming adventure.

What about you? What is something that you have always wanted to do? How will you make that dream become a reality?

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Celebrating Life

Donna Connolly blogs at Retirement Reflections. Please be sure to check out her upcoming Camino adventures on her site.

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43 thoughts on “Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail

  1. Pingback: Celebrating a Milestone Birthday: 700 Kilometers on the Camino Trail - Retirement_Reflections

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  3. Liesbet

    Richard doesn’t look a day over 50. You both seem to be in good shape – mentally and physically – to finish this trek this summer. Very exciting! Enjoy the journey, both of you. Less is more, especially when you have to carry it all yourselves. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Donna

      Thanks, Liesbet – Richard says that he likes you already! That will make it so much easier when you and Mark come to visit, I’ll keep you posted!

      Reply
  4. Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com

    Hi Donna! How exciting and definitely a spectacular way to celebrate a big birthday. My husband Thom and I talked about doing the Camino but have never taken the plunge…maybe you will inspire us? Have a wonderful experience and I look forward to reading about how it unfolds. (and I LOVE the photos too!) ~Kathy

    Reply
    1. Donna

      Hi, Kathy – Oooohh, I do hope that Richard and I can inspire you and Thom to do the Camino. There are so many different routes, lengths and ways to do it, there really is no right or wrong. We were inspired by a fellow educator to try the Camino years ago. The moment we set foot on the trail the very first day, it was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!

      Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      It is exciting isn’t it Ruth! I’m always happy to share Donna and her writing on Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond. I’m looking forward to reading all about her trip as well. x

      Reply
    2. Donna

      Hi, Ruth – Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing these kind words. I will have my iPhone with me (for safety reasons of course :D) so hopefully I will be able to do some posting along the way. Stay tuned!

      Reply
    1. Donna

      Thanks, Leslie – You have summed up Sue’s August theme very nicely…’What better day than today?’ Thank you so much for stopping by. I greatly appreciate it.

      Reply
  5. Leanne | crestingthehill

    You both look fabulous and fit – but I want to know how on earth you fit all your clothes and toiletries etc for that amount of time into one tiny little backpack??? That is an amazing feat in itself. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures as time goes on – have fun!

    Reply
    1. Donna

      Thanks, Leanne – You are very kind! Since walking is our prime activity each day, our needs are very simple. We have found that we really do not need too much in the way of extra clothes or toiletries. Also, as we have done sections of the Camino twice before, we have now gathered a small stockpile of ultralight and packable clothing/items. Finally, we take the ‘Noah’s Ark’ approach, that is, no more than two of anything (and only one or none when we can get away with it)!

      Reply
  6. Shirley Corder

    You both look so fit and ready for the long trek. I admit, I share Leanne’s wonder at how you fit so much into one not-so-tiny backpack. I should think it gets heavier as the minutes go by!

    Reply
    1. Donna

      You are very wise Shirley – It is amazing how heavy just 12 pounds can feel at the end of Day One! As the days go by, and our bodies become more and more fit, it does become lighter again! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I greatly appreciate it.

      Reply
  7. Dr Sock

    Donna, I am so impressed that you will be trekking 700 kilometres! And with only 12 pounds of belongings. That is inspirational. And I love the Eleanor Roosevelt quotation– that kind of says it all.

    Jude

    Reply
    1. Donna

      Thanks for your kind words and warm wishes, Jude. I greatly appreciate them. It is only recommended to carry 10% of your body weight so I took that recommendation very seriously. And once you’ve done the Camino once….and had to carry your own stuff…your realize how little you truly need!

      Reply
      1. Dr Sock

        Haha, when I did a backpacking tour of Europe in my 20’s, I carried a 35 pound pack, which was certainly much more than 10% of my weight. (We had a tent, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, a big heavy camera…)

        Jude

        Reply
        1. Donna

          Hi, Jude – You and my husband, Richard, are kindred spirits! That exactly what he said to me last year…then he attempted to carry an overweight pack up and down hills foe 8-hour days for over a week. He immediately said that he would never do that again. So far, he has kept his word and is travelling much lighter!

          Reply
  8. Debbie

    What an amazing journey for you both and a great way to celebrate a milestone birthday. You both look fantastically fit and healthy and I can’t way to hear all about it. One question I have is how long you plan to take for the trek? All the best to you both and thanks for sharing Donna’s journey with us Sue.

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      Isn’t it exciting Debbie! I would love to do this but my husband isn’t as keen as I am. I will live my journey at the moment through reading Donna’s posts. x

      Reply
  9. Donna

    Hi, Debbie – I love questions about the Camino and our upcoming trek. If we walk 22 kilometers per day, without a day off (and no missteps), we would be finished in 31 days. We have given ourselves 51 days in Europe so that we can better make things up as we go along, and never feel that we need to rush or miss something that we really want to see because of a too-early flight. I look forward to keeping everyone posted on where this adventure leads!

    Reply
  10. Teresa

    I’m anxiously waiting to hear about your journey! You both look fantastically in shape and ready to take this on. Good luck and have a blast!

    Reply
    1. Donna

      Thanks, Terry – We have now completed the hardest part, I.e. Getting here! We begin our official walk tomorrow. I will keep you posted.

      Reply
  11. Jennifer

    A 12 lb backpack? Does that include snacks and water? If so, I’m thoroughly impressed. I couldn’t get my backpack below 20lbs when hiking for a few days in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. And your husband must be lying about his age, there is no way that he’s hitting 70 already!

    Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      I’ve never done backpacking Jennifer – I’m not sure I could carry one for that long! Donna’s and her husband both look fit and healthy don’t they – great examples to us all. x

      Reply
    2. Donna

      Hi , Jennifer – I’ve seen Richard’s passport….but he did say that he likes you already!😄
      This is our third Camino, so our packs have gotten lighter and lighter each time. The 12
      lbs includes water and granola bars!

      Reply
      1. Jennifer

        Donna, I am in awe and bow down to you. I cannot believe that your 12-pound pack includes water and snack! You will need to write a post about your pack and everything that you put into it!

        Reply
    1. Sue Loncaric Post author

      It is a long way isn’t it Jan? But what an experience. Thanks for the info about Meredith Sykes. The Camino is on my list but it might be solo as my husband isn’t that keen. Have a great weekend!

      Reply
    2. Donna

      Hi, Jan – In 2010, when I suggested to my husband that we do the last 200K of The Camino, he said (as lovingly as possible) that I would never make it. Not only did I make it…I was usually quite a bit ahead of him on the trail. It’s amazing what we can accomplish with sheer determination. Thank you for the link to Meredith. I will definitely check her out!

      Reply
  12. Janis

    I’m so glad that you’ve given yourselves extra time – not that you’ll need it fitness-wise; you both are in great shape – but having options and opportunities for spontaneity makes traveling so special. Blog if you can, but never miss a moment of your journey.

    Reply
  13. Donna

    Thanks, Janis – After a 2-day marathon of planes, trains, automobiles, buses and ferries, Richard and I arrived in San Sebastián, Spain last Thursday evening. We spent two blissful days there (including front standing row to a free Pretenders concert)! We are now awaiting our bus to Longrono and then a new bus to Najera where we will begin our journey. I’ll keep you all posted whenever I can find technical (as well as physical and mental) bandwith. Please stay tuned!

    Reply

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