Sixteen Tons: more or less

♪ You load sixteen tons, what do you get Another day older and deeper in debt Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go I owe my soul to the REI store ♪

For those of you over 60, you may remember the chorus from Tennessee Ernie Ford’s best seller “16 Tons.” Well, it’s also an analogy for the Camino de Santiago. The 16 tons translates to 16 pack pounds, preparing adds to the credit card debt, and I’m certainly getting older every day.

​​Yesterday, I loaded my pack with most everything that’s going with me on the Camino and weighed it. Sixteen (16) pounds including the pack (3 lbs.) and 48 fluid ounces of water that actually weighs 50 ounces by weight.

So, 16 pounds minus 6 leaves me with a three-pound cushion if one follows the 10% rule. I talked about that in an earlier post where conventional Camino wisdom says your pack should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight. For my svelte frame, that’s about 19 pounds. That’s enough for an extra pair of shoes/sandals when I can no longer abide my Merrells plus a couple of things I can’t live without, like a wee flask of my favorite adult beverage – Basil Hayden bourbon whiskey.

Just an interesting aside, this bourbon is named in honor of Basil Hayden, Sr. who led a group of 25 Roman Catholic families (pilgrims) from Maryland to Kentucky. Mr. Hayden is credited with establishing the first Roman Catholic Church and one of the first distilleries in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Nice serendipitous correlation to my Camino story.

Another Camino wisdom says to shed 5% of your body weight to lighten the load on your knees and feet. So I entered that in the Challenge Column of my list of 65 Things To Do this year. Last week I was about halfway. Now, I’m not so sure if I will continue.

My annual physical was this past week and I told the doc about my plans for the walk and lightening my personal load. He asked a good question – Why? Well, ahhh, because Camino blogs said to and I can check it off my list. I know, I know – these are not even mediocre reasons. First, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet, especially from a user group. And, second, this year was to be about experiences, not goals.

But, back to my doc’s question. His premise is that the weight loss should come from your body’s fat stores, not muscle mass. Starting the Camino with a bit of a spare tire is a good thing because the body will use up that fat before it starts devouring muscles to fuel itself. And muscle mass is the engine needed to drive you forward. Less muscle, less drive makes sense to me especially since our first two days will be the steepest climb of the trip.

So, as I write this, I am now enjoying, without guilt mind you, a lovely Orange Poppy Seed danish along with my TaylorMaid Farms Chai Latte. My motivation to lose a few pounds has lessened with my doc’s sage advice. Whew!

Now, let’s finish up the pack story. Sixteen pounds and I went for a training hike at Annadel Park. We covered 11 miles in less than 3 and half hours. We took ten-minute breaks every 3 miles or so, gained 1300 elevation, and suffered no blisters or turned ankles. A successful venture I would say.

Next on the prep agenda is another two night inn-to-inn hike with Cheryl over Easter weekend. The planned route is an out and back along the Mendocino coast between the towns of Mendocino, Little River, and Albion. The days’ hikes will be 6, 8 and 14 miles in length. The latter mimics a typical distance on the Camino.

Our packs will be trail weight and our shoes, hopefully, broken in sufficiently to avoid blisters and cramped toes. Actually hoping for a bit of rain this time to see if our gear is rain worthy. We think we have a system to keep equipment and bodies dry, but need real world wind and rain to test it. I figure we can endure a bit of a deluge if a warm fireplace and a Basil Hayden awaits at the end of the day.

And lastly, I’m waiting for REI’s dividend to arrive so we can finish buying our stuff. A couple of years ago we applied for a credit card that rebates annual dividends at REI. This year’s dividend will buy our hiking shoes, sleeping sacks, Cheryl’s pack, and a bunch of necessary Camino items. Our other card generates American Airline miles we cashed in for the flights. And with the Euro approaching parity to the US Dollar, this trip will be almost free.

Sixteen pounds and another 60 days to go!

If you are under 60, listen and enjoy. If you are over 60, sing along.


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