My name is Dean Tweedle. My wife, Glenni, is my partner & soul mate (47 years now). I was diagnosed with PD on my 65th birthday, May 3rd, 2013. My symptoms were tremours in my right arm and leg. My Sinemet meds seem to have minimal effect. BUT my neurologist told us that EXERCISE IS THE BEST MEDICINE. So we’re “doing what we can, while we can”.
On September 14th we flew to Spain. Our destination was the El Camino Trail. Have you heard of it?
- There are different El Camino trails – several in Spain, one from Portugal, one from France. All end in Santiago, Spain, the site of the tomb of the disciple James.
- Most popular – the French El Camino – begins in France.
- It’s an 800 km trail taken by pilgrims for over 1000 years.
Can you guess how many people hiked at least 100 km of the French El Camino in 2016? Over 175,000.
Our plan was to walk the last 300 km, starting in Leon and finishing 15 days later, in Santiago. I WAS SOMEWHAT ANXIOUS.
- My tremors in my right arm and leg were increasing and were spreading to my left side.
- I was feeling more vulnerable.
We booked our accommodation ahead of time. We hired a delivery service to pick up our 25-kg suitcase each morning and deliver it each afternoon, to our hostel/hotel.
On September 18th, we arose early & began our journey – excited yet apprehensive. Could we do it? We knew if we were injured or too tired, we could take a taxi for that day’s trip or we could stop the trek at any time. That was reassuring!
We spent the 1st week (September 18-24th) establishing a routine. Here was the pattern:
- Up at 6:30am
- Walk 6-8 hours
- Catch breakfast on the way
- 2 snack breaks
- Main meal at 2pm
- Arrive at hostel at 3:30 pm
- Average 20 km/day
At the end of our 1st week we had walked 152 km – remarkably, with few blisters & no injuries! I was noticing a growing fatigue. We were enjoying lovely weather, beautiful scenery, friendly locals & meeting such interesting peregrinos (pilgrims) from around the world.
The 2nd week passed without any setbacks. We had walked a further 140 km, walking on cobblestone streets, over stone bridges, beside a flock of sheep, & through ancient villages, still inhabited.
Our last day (Day 15), we were up and on the trail before dawn, using headlamps to guide our way. In the early afternoon, we came over a ridge & could see Santiago de Compostela in the distance. Our destination! We had made it!! That called for a celebration – tapas (appetizer) & a sangria at a sidewalk café, in the old part of the city. We stayed 2 nights in a former monastery – such history – we loved it!
It's been over a month since returning to BC. I’m feeling that I’m still recovering (smile). We’re planning to return next September, and do the 1st third of the trail. We’ll need to modify our schedules though, not walking as far each day & building in a rest day every 4-5 days. We’ll see. Perhaps it won’t happen. BUT maybe it will! REGARDLESS, WE’LL KEEP DOING WHAT WE CAN, WHILE WE CAN!