Hardly an hour goes by when I don’t think about my impending camino. I’ve taken a gamble and ordered new boots, which hopefully will arrive this weekend for their first break-in walk. If they don’t work, I’m back to my old boots which have at least another camino left in them. I’m also getting ready for the start of tomorrow’s big sale at REI, where I’m planning to buy some new technical t-shirts and hiking shorts. I’ll check my Camelbak bladder to make sure it’s fit for duty, and I’ll lay out my gear in the bedroom and probably back and re-pack my backpack over and over in the next few days.
The best part of this year’s camino will be meeting friends from last year. My German firefighter buddy, Sebastian, will join me for the first few days outbound from Bilbao. Then at the end, my buddy Martin, who teaches English in Logroño, will join me for up to two weeks. Both guys are super companions, each a lot of fun in their own way.
As I make plans for the walk it’s clear just how different the Camino del Norte is than the much more popular Camino Frances. The first stop out of Bilbao generally is the town of Portugalete. Problem there is that the only albergue is open only in July and August since it’s an adult school. So, Sebastian and I will make a long day and do two stages in one, heading to the albergue at Pobeña. This gives us a 32 km day, but we can shave off some miles by walking the industrial route along the river in Bilbao to Portugalete. Sebastian’s a good walker and the added advantage of this plan is that we’ll walk along the seashore part of the way to Pobeña.