At our monthly WNC American Pilgrims on the Camino, Carroll K. presented his trip on the Camino de Santiago – the Northern route. The Camino Norte is the coastal route from Irun to Santiago, Spain, the route that Beth and I are taking in only a couple of weeks.
Carroll flew to Europe in September by himself and quickly found amigos from many countries. He’s known as the ageless hiker because at 87 years old, he might be the oldest serious peregrino on the trail. But unlike the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the Camino doesn’t keep track of these things. There’s no ATC for the Camino, no overall body that promotes, advocates or maintains the trail. Locals deal with their own section.
This trip was Carroll’s ninth Camino; he’s a serial pilgrim, starting when he was 77 years old. First he went with a few other guys from Carolina Mountain Club, but now travels by himself. Like other experienced pilgrims, he knows that he won’t be alone for long.
“I think that the Norte has the best albergues on the Camino. Albergues are hostels along the way. One of his favorite albergues was in Guemes, La Cabana del Abuelo Pueto, where the hospitalero, Ernesto Bustio, took a photo of Carroll and said he was going to post it on his board. Now, when we stop at this hostel, and we will, we’ll have to take a picture of Carroll’s picture.
Carroll averaged about 11 miles, not a record but got him there steadily.
He moved on from the Norte to the Primitivo at Oviedo, a route that many take. There he saw a huge shaggy ram.
He also placed a Lenny stone, in tribute to my husband who died while Carroll was on his route.
All this Camino talk reminds me of my 2013 Chemin de St. Jacques pilgrimage from LePuy to St. Jean Pied de Port in France. On that trip, the unifying factor of every village, every place I stopped, were World War I memorials – remember the war to end all wars. I took a photo of every WWI memorial I could find.
Tomorrow, April 6, 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into the war.
I wonder what the theme of the Camino Norte will be for me.