A Million Steps
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Kurt Koontz thought he was well prepared for his 490-mile walking trip on the historic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain. He was fit and strong. He had a good guidebook and all the right equipment. His pilgrim passport would grant him access to the shelter of hostels along the way. But all that, however helpful, did not begin to encompass the grandeur of his external or internal adventure. A Million Steps climbs over the high meadows of the Pyrenees, quests through the unceasing wind of the Meseta, and dances in the rains of Galicia. While following the yellow arrows that mark the route, Koontz also navigates through his personal history of addiction, recovery, and love. With outgoing humor and friendliness, he embraces the beauty of the countryside and joyful connections to other pilgrims from around the world. Part diary, part travelogue, A Million Steps is a journey within a journey all the way to the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and beyond.
poles. I became a commercial stick person on day one. By using my arm and wrist, I could actually plant the stick ahead of my stride and then take four steps before repeating the action. When I was in the groove, it propelled me like an oar in water or a cross-country ski pole through fresh powder. When climbing up hills, it allowed me to use upper body strength to aid the ascents. On the downhill, it provided much-appreciated support for my knees. And the stick made music of its own. The
de la Vega served as my final stop for the day. The albergue had a 6-Euro or 10-Euro option. I bucked up and found myself in a room with five beds on the floor (yippee…no bunks), sheets, blankets, and a shared bathroom. While this may not seem like much, it was sheer happiness. My roommates were all from France and our only ability to communicate was non-verbal. I did my laundry in a sink outside the room and firmly attached my clothes to the line. Normally, there is a risk that the clothes would
began to head back toward my hotel. In the town square the runners were gone, but a large Sunday crowd still filled the area. I was pretty taken by the older local people. They filled the majority of the park benches throughout the gathering place. I had a feeling that this was a daily ritual for these residents. I wondered what they thought of the stream of foreigners marching toward Santiago. They just sat, enjoyed the sun, and watched the tourists. There were no hurries and certainly no
from Germany who was volunteering for the first of 14 days. I did some laundry in a tiny sink and was pleased to see a centrifugal spin dryer. I plugged in the machine but Miguel quickly reprimanded me. I could not understand a word he said but had obviously violated a rule. After my chores were complete and my body clean, I spent some time on the deck overlooking the main street. I met several interesting characters including a woman from Canada named Janine. She was quite inebriated, and it
my window and saw a man playing for a small crowd of tourists. My mom has requested that bagpipes play at her funeral, so the wonderful sounds of the music are always accompanied by sadness for the inevitable day. Day 20 Vineyards Anxiety about walking in my extra-large Patagonia footwear interrupted my dreams. Even though a break-in period was not required, I was still nervous. My Brierley guidebook was adamant about NEVER walking the Camino with new shoes. Still, I had no