I love reading about other people’s adventures, so when I had the chance to read A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz, I took it. In this novel, Koontz writes about his journey walking the historic Camino de Santiago trail in Spain.
“Just like each day on the Camino, I understood that life must never be taken for granted. There is absolutely no guarantee that tomorrow will exist, and if it does, our physical condition may limit our enjoyment. The only time to be happy is now.”
Koontz walks approximately one million steps during his journey on the Camino. We travel the road with him, experiencing the joy and difficult moments of the 490 mile walking trip.
I found the beginning of the book a little slow and hard to get into. Once the stories from the Camino grew more personal, and the emotions he was dealing with started coming out, I found out I wanted to continue the journey with him. I really enjoyed hearing Kurt speak lovingly about all the different people he met on the Camino and the towns he passed through. His descriptions of everything he encounters, from the people to the art along the way are wonderful. There is a great deal of information in this book about the places he stays and meals he eats along the way. You absolutely should read A Million Steps if you contemplating or already planning a trip on the Camino de Santiago, however, anyone with an adventurous spirit will enjoy it.
The following photos are from his journey. They are so beautiful, I wish they had been printed in colour, in the book.
If you have a desire to walk the Camino, or a similar long trail, Kurt has a few words of advice:
- The big decision is determining the best time of year for your walk. Late spring works well to avoid the crowds, but there will likely be snow at the higher elevations. Summer is by far the most popular time, but be prepared for large crowds. The fall is a nice time, but try to make sure that you arrive in Santiago no later than November 15.
- This is a minimalist trip, so packing is relatively easy. Your pack should be 30-50 liters and make sure that the waist strap rests comfortably on the hip bones. If the pack it too short, you will have a miserable time trying to carry the weight on your belly.
- You will likely be walking between 11-16 miles per day, so do not start cold turkey in Spain. Try to walk a minimum of 20 miles per week for at least six weeks prior to your departure. As you get close to take-off time, try add several 15 mile days. The weekly training will get you in walking mode and will allow your feet to become accustomed to the footwear. Without preparation, blisters will haunt you.
- The difficult part of making the trip is to manage your expectations. The best way to do this is to leave them behind! When you arrive, everything you encounter will likely challenge your comfort zones. You sleep in bunks, walk five to seven hours per day, meet people from all corners of the world, lose convenience, eat what is available, face adversity, and embrace joy. This is the arena where you grow as a person.
“Prior to my trip, the veterans told me that the first third of the trip is for the body, the second for the mind, and the final third for the soul.”
I was provided with a copy of this book in order to write this review, however the opinions in it are my own.