Joe writes: Elaine and I have slowly turned into walking, eating, sleeping machines. We average over 20 km (12 miles) per day at a speed of just over 4 km/hr. Today we passed an important milestone, the half way mark of the Camino Frances, 400 km (250 miles). Did we celebrate? Did we cheer? No, we barely noticed and marched on. Over the days and weeks our pains have slowly diminished and become more generalized. We’ve grown accustomed to the fatigue and exhaustion and learned to identify the critical pains that require immediate attention compared to the daily ones that go away after a couple hours of rest. Feet and shoes are a daily discussion between the two of us as well as with other pilgrims.
This is where the rubber hits the road and we’ve heard so many stories of short-lived pilgrimages due to blisters, sprains, and knee problems. We are taking extra special care of them and pay attention to any hint that they might be failing us. The first thing we do every morning is to coat our feet with a heavy layer of Vaseline. This minimizes friction between your foot and your shoe, the major cause of blisters. We then but on two pairs of good wool socks. Never use cotton. It gets wet and it stays wet. Wool wicks away the moisture and continue to insulate your feet in cold weather. We are using what is called “Smart Wool”, it seems to be less itchy and it tends to be odor free even after several days on the trail.
In preparation for this trek I purchased an expensive pair of NorthFace Boa Hiking Shoes. The Boa’s use a stainless steel wire lacing system that is tightened by turning a knob on the heel of the shoe. NorthFace has had a good reputation in the past and they started out working wonderfully, allowing me to tighten (or loosen) the laces on the fly. Very convenient when you have 25 lbs on your back and you are tired and worn out near the end of the day. Well after about 100 miles the shoes started failing. The lacing system has jamed on both shoes and the inside heel area has worn through exposing my heel to a rough edge. I now have to wear an adhesive bandage on my heel to prevent blisters in that area. I will not buy NorthFace equipment again. Elaine is wearing Keen shoes and they are performing quite well.