I run about four miles every other day at 5,280 feet in Denver. With my other pursuits and interests, I decided that I would just gut it out on the rocky Spanish terrain. I did a full mission profile (the term we use in Special Forces to get ready for a mission) with my gear, walking around a town green in Massachusetts in high humidity. I realized my military-issued assault pack, though very sturdy and cool-looking, is heavy and does not provide support that I need for a long– distance walk. I decided to use a civilian pack (65 liters) with an internal frame. I didn’t “toughen up” my feet like I did when I went through SF Selection (18-mile marches with 100-plus pounds in mountainous terrain near my dad’s place in southern Colorado).
After buying John Briely’s book on The Camino, reading several online websites and talking to friends who have walked the Way, I paired down my essentials and weight. My civilian pack is lighter than any Army rucksack I’ve carried for more than three days. However, my pack will be heavier than most recommendations as I decided to take a small laptop and backpack (so I can take my important papers/passport with me when I leave a hostel or hotel room). I find I can’t write effectively on a pad or smartphone, download files or post photos. I know most people who walk The Camino say you leave all distractions behind you for the best experience, but that isn’t realistic for me.