Gleb Walks the Camino: Hiking On Empty

Posted on Sep 27, 2017 | 0 comments

Gleb Walks the Camino: Hiking On Empty

The effect traveling and endurance have on you is interesting. It is almost like you enter a parallel universe, one that is vastly different from everyday life you are used to.

By now, I am thoroughly cleansed from the plague that was the 9-to-5 office job. I wake up as a pilgrim, I walk west towards Santiago, I end my day with a pilgrim meal at a restaurant at the next town’s main square. I have not started to drink less, but also, I have not started to drink more. No vino, no Camino.

In the mountains!

Here is my schedule: Wake up between 6 and 7 AM, skip the disgusting European breakfast most albergues offer (white toast, margarine, fake marmalade, instant coffee), instead gather my modest belongings into my mochila (backpack), pound my cold brew tea I have left by my bunk bed overnight, and hike 7 to 10 km to the next village on an empty stomach.

This is what breakfast looks like.

There, I feast on tortilla (that omelet with potatoes), meat pie (delicious and with onions), bocadillos (baguette sandwiches) and caffe con leche. That fuels me up for the rest of the day. I hike for the next 6 to 8 hours, covering between 30 and 50 km. Recently, I have gotten out of the meseta (flatlands around Burgos and León) and entered the mountainous areas preceding the coast. Santiago de Compostela is within sight, under 200 km remaining. I can almost smell it.

Let us talk about the brass tacks: What is in my backpack. Not much, really: a sleeping bag liner, as you do not need much more. There is an albergue every night, you just need to shield yourself from the veteran bunk bed mattress that has been quite close to many pilgrim bodies. Some clothes, shorts, PRC t-shirt, socks, wind shirt, fleece jacket and pants, hat, gloves. I have some town clothes for this trip, just pants and a cotton T-shirt. Phone, phone charger and a power bank. Some bandaids for blisters. A pair of German pilgrims donated a travel towel to me. Apparently, albergues do not provide towels.

Gleb takes a lot of pictures in the same PRC shirt. We can almost smell it.

I can not stop appreciating my Hoka One One Challengers. The thick sole is holding up quite well, the tread is great for the more technical portions of the trail. In my mind, I laugh (kind-heartedly) at all those poor souls trudging in hiking boots. So heavy, so hot.

This trail is different. Europe is older than the US. This is not the Pacific Crest Trail nor is it the Appalachian Trail. But, it is not better or worse, just different.

I will continue to push big miles, beelining for Santiago and Finisterra. But, once finished, I think I will return home with a new appreciation for the Old World.

Dessert in Leon: Milk and honey. The waiter offered a list of all the bees involved and their hobbies.

Part of the meal that preceded the dessert in Leon: pan-fried Atlantic Salmon, mustard sauce, mixed green salad, banana slug. (J/K, no banana slug.)

Another part of the dinner that preceded the dessert in Leon: roasted tuna belly, bell pepper, pickled onion, olives, wild chives.






Gleb Velikanov has completed 25 marathons, 10 ultras, and 2 thru-hikes. Read about his previous adventures at

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