I have many reasons for doing long distance walks with the top one being the solitude and the time to deep dive into my own head. I usually come back from these trips recharged and refocused on what I want to achieve out of life. While I have watched movies like The Way and had a good theoretical knowledge of what’s involved in walking the Camino, I prefer walks that are more remote and that offer more solitude. I read this book on a bit of a whim and it is now solely responsible for changing my mind about walking the Camino and here’s why.
First up this book is an easy read. It is set out by day with each chapter having a particular focus such as accommodation, food, historic aspects. The author Kurt Koontz undertook his trip from St Jean de Pied Port to Santiago in 29 days which is setting a good pace of 28-30 km a day. Keep in mind this is a walk rather than a hike and the majority of people will travel very light, stopping to eat as they go and sleeping in albergues (hostels) along the way. Even with Koontz’s 6′ 5” frame he managed to keep his pack to around 22 lbs (10 kg) – travelling with this sort of pack weight allows fit walkers to travel at a reasonably unencumbered pace to complete the 780 km (500 mile) trip.
Koontz named this book on his estimate of how many steps he took during his journey. Like many people he meets along the way, he has a reason for undertaking this pilgrimage, freely discussing his previous unhealthy relationship with alcohol that had lasting impacts on his life. He discusses his daily highlights and lowlights with a key feature being the interactions with his fellow walkers. One of the best takeaways from this book is a quote that appears in the first few pages:
The first third of the trip is for the body, the second third for the mind, and the last third for the soul.
This is something I can relate to from my other long distance trips. Koontz backs this up through his storytelling and the impact the walk has on him including the way he now sees the world. This particular thread resonated with me. I am now committed to walking the Camino and have scheduled this long distance hike for 2021/2022.
The only real negative for me with this book is that while it provides an in-depth description of life on the Camino, it’s a bit lacking on description of the surrounding landscape. This was also Gill’s comment along with the long list of fellow walkers with little in depth understanding of who they really were.
If you are considering walking the Camino then this book is one I would highly recommend, not for the technical aspects but for its ability to paint a picture of what to expect. If like me you need to decide if you want to walk then Camino then this book will help with that too!
‘The first third of the trip is for the body, the second third for the mind, and the last third for the soul’
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A Million Steps front cover
Inside view showing example of a chapter start and images that are spread throughout the book
This review was done with product purchased by Australian Hiker