As I lay in bed in our little attic room, my mind was filled with the fact that this would be my last and final day on the Camino.  Today I would fulfill my dream and walk into Santiago de Compostela.  So I should have been excited but I was ambivalent.  Part of me thought I should have gotten up really early and started walking and the other part of me thought — why?

I put on the exact same trekking clothes I had been wearing every single day since I had started this Camino — the same shirt, same trekking pants, same shoes, same fleece jacket, same scarf, same rain coat, just different socks and under ware.

They were serving breakfast downstairs and I was going to grab something quick and eat it as I walked.  But somehow we ended up sitting down with a couple from Australia and they started telling me how rough the Camino had been for them.  They were only doing the last 100 kilometers from Sarria but the woman told us she couldn’t wait until today was over because she had just too many injuries on the Camino.  Then, for some reason, I heard myself telling her that I couldn’t wait for it to be over and that I was glad this was the last day.  Why did I say that?  Did I really feel that way?  After they left the table I got really choked up and almost burst into tears thinking about this really, truly being the last day.


I slowed down and took my time eating and even had a second cup of coffee.  Then Dick and I parted ways.  He was going to drive to Santiago and turn In the car and I would walk and meet him there.


The path started out beautiful as usual and there was a lot of downhill.  Then it started going uphill and I was getting winded.  I expected the trail to be so crowded today but there weren’t any more trekkers than usual. If I came upon a group of them, we all quickly thinned out and I felt like I had the trail to myself again.  And that was how I liked it — truly being alone.


It was supposed to rain today but so far it was just overcast and the air wasn’t heavy with moisture like the previous days had been.


This was something I was seeing for the very first time.  The couple on the right had their packs on those wheel things but then they could also pick them up and carry them on their backs when the trail got rough.  Pretty cool.

There was a ton of uphill today, especially as I got into the outskirts of Santiago and had to circumvent the airport.


Although I was still nestled in the trees I could hear traffic on the road to my right and jet engines on the runway on my left — but I couldn’t actually see any of it.  If it hadn’t been for the noise I would have thought I was still way out in the country.


And then as the trail ascended higher and higher we were suddenly shrouded in fog.  It started to rain, a light rain and people were stopping to grab their ponchos out of their backpacks.  But I didn’t stop.  I was hoping beyond hope that the rain was temporary and would clear any minute.  And that’s what happened.  Things began to clear up and the rain stopped.

I had now walked 10 miles and knew we must be getting close to Santiago.  Another way I could tell we were close was that more than ever, guys were stopping to pee at the side of the road.  I mean, it was like they were going to wet their pants with excitement that they were getting so close to being finished!


And then I saw it.  There was Santiago — I was really going to make it!  What I didn’t realize was that I was still a good 5 miles away.


I finally emerged from the trees and entered the noise and traffic of Santiago.  And suddenly I was afraid of being alone.  Unlike before, I now wanted to be surrounded by other trekkers.  It seemed like just as I would see some, they would stop for some reason and I would pass them and have to look ahead for others.  “The Way” was not well marked at all and I was forever thinking I was lost.  And for the first time on the entire trek, I felt lonely.  I wanted to be with someone else.  And I kept thinking — the end has to be near — the end has to be near.  But it wasn’t.

I had my eye on one lone trekker about a block and a half ahead of me and I kept hurrying along so I wouldn’t lose sight of him.  Then he crossed the street and went up around the corner and I was just sure I would lose him.  How did he know to go around the corner?  There were no yellow arrows pointing that way.


I hurried to follow him into this little pedestrian walkway and I thought, “OK, now I’m really close.”  But I wasn’t.  The walkway had twists and turns and forks that split into 3 different paths and became more and more congested with people and shops and venders.  And I was still blindly following this guy because I didn’t see any signs for the Camino.  I wanted to stop and ask someone if I was going the right way to get to the Cathedral but I knew if I did I’d lose sight of my “trekker guide.”  So I kept blindly following him.

Then as I was going down some stairs a woman sitting on the ground started playing the bagpipes and that’s when I saw him — I saw Dick waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs and I burst into tears.


I had made it.


Through my sobbing and tears my emotions were all over the place — pure joy, extreme exhaustion, euphoria, sadness, excitement, disappointment, happiness and a pure sense of accomplishment. Through all the ups and downs, the mountains and the hills, the mud, muck and rain,  the blister, the hurting foot, the runs, the beauty and serenity of each and every day on the path, the spiritualism I felt each time I passed or entered a church, and all the friends I met along “The Way” —  I had finally made it!  I had fulfilled my dream!



The Cathedral.




The square in front of the Cathedral with trekkers lying on the ground, basking in the gory of finally making it to Santiago.



On our way in to Mass.


The Cathedral was big enough to seat 1000 people — but all the seats were taken and it was standing room only for Mass.

I was truly back in civilization, back among crowds of people, shops, vendors, restaurants, cars, traffic and materialism.  Life on the Camino had been so pure, so simple, so uncomplicated.  My journey was over but would always remain a part of me.

25 thoughts on “TREKKING — DAY 37 — THE FINAL DAY”

  1. Dear Karen:
    You made it!!!!!
    My heart squeezes as you describe your rolling emotions of arriving in Santiago.
    Congratulations to you from a very admiring fan!
    You put a lot of effort into achieving your goal and this experience will surely bouy you up in days and years to come.
    So proud of you and envious too of your accomplishment.
    My turn soon?
    Felicitos a ti y un beso grandote!!!!!
    Best wishes to the Camino Concierge as well!

    1. Thanks so much Debbie — and thanks for your continued support and encouragement along “The Way.” If you ever decide to do this and you want a packing list I can send you mine. There wasn’t anything I wish I’d brought, and I used everything I had. Please let me know how you like Romania.

  2. ¡Felicitaciones! Your blog was so inspiring … maybe some day I’ll try it too. I’d need Alan to be my Camino Concierge like Dick! I am sorry to see this blog end. Maybe Dick can pick it up with some of the adventures he had while you were walking. I’m sure he had some interesting experiences along his way. BTW, our daughter is moving to southern Cal. and we’ll be visiting when the baby comes, so I hope to catch up with you and Dick at some point. Or if you visit Cinci? I miss the laughter, fun times and sense of adventure that I was honored to be a part of when we spent time together in GUA. Abrazos.

    1. Kristie — thanks so much for keeping up with the blog — I loved reading all our comments, especially the one about the wrong caption being under the photo of the mud. I simply meant to portray that the mud was something that I had to learn to love. And by the end of the trek, it didn’t bother me so much. Hope you’ll be able to do this trek one day. Dick can give Alan some pointers on being a Camino Concierge! Can’t wait to see you when you come to California!!!!

  3. Congratulations! I could tell by your writing, your determination, and the fact that you decided to go again in order to finish the trek that this meant a lot to you! I really enjoyed this Camino blog! I hope to see more adventures. As I said in an earlier comment, I am a loyal follower of A Note From Abroad, which is how I got to your blog. I did a lot of traveling with a Marine airwing in my younger years. Was smart enough to get away from the military bases in whatever country I was in to really find out what it was all about. Due to circumstances, all my fault, I am not able to travel the world as planned, so I am an avid follower of those of us who can. Again, congratulations!

  4. Congratulations Karen
    This is a HUGE accomplishment – one to be proud of forever.
    YOU did it! We are ALL so proud of you. xoxox Joy

    1. Thanks so much Joy. I really can see you doing this trek one day. Loved our comments and all your support!

    1. Mil gracias, Sirpa. You should have been with me! With your energy you would have done so great on all the uphill parts and put me to shame!

  5. I won’t say I can’t believe you made it…I can’t say that. Your determination was evident even during those times when you weren’t sure you could do it. You did it! Like so many other obstacles you’ve encountered and difficulties you’ve faced, you smiled, put your head down, and just kept moving forward. The way you and Dad worked together on this entire journey is so incredibly inspiring. I’m so very proud of you, so very proud of both of you (did Dad actually grow a beard…I didn’t think that was possible.) I can’t wait to hear more about this when you come through Denver. I love you both so very much. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you darling Eric. You are the son I always wished I had — and then did. Thanks so much for your support, confidence and love. And yes, your dad has sort of a beard. You’ll get to see it in person in a few days!! Love you, Sweetie!

  6. Congratulations Karen and Dick on completing the trek and reaching your goal. While reading your posts and viewing the photos, I was amazed at how I related to and felt some of the emotion you seemed to feel as you made your way along the route. Since this is not an a walk I will ever take, it was fun to participate right along with you. I’m sure that by now you’ve had a hot shower, a good meal, and hopefully the C.C. gives foot massages!

    1. Foot massage??? I guess that’s where CC drew the line. I did ask him for one, one time, and he just laughed at me! Thanks so much for all your comments — I loved reading them. It has taken several hot showers and a couple days of rest to recover but I sort of feel back to normal now. Hope you and Bob and Dick and I can get together sometime soon.

  7. What an amazing journey, one step at a time! You two are a wonderful example of a loving partnership where Dick supported your dream and helped you reach your goal. Karen, I remain in awe at your guts, determination, endurance and strength that kept you going through all that you experienced along the way. I have no doubt that what ever obstacles or challenges life throws your way that you will rise to the task! Thank you so much for sharing each day with us so that we too could get better insight into what it takes to be a pilgrim on the Camino.

    1. Thanks so much Joanne. Dick and I are eagerly awaiting your arrival here in Santiago de Compostela. See you soon!!!!

  8. Karen and Dick,

    I wrote a comment at 3 a.m. today on my iPhone, and obviously still can’t master something as simple as that as it doesn’t appear here.
    BUT I AM VERY, VERY GOOD AT PICKING SPECIAL PEOPLE TO HAVE IN MY LIFE, i.e., my over 50 year friendship with both of you. You are and have always been my angels.

    You never cease to amaze me with all that you both are and do and achieve. I couldn’t say what I feel better than Eric did.

    And your three sons are a spectacular achievement to include here in this tribute that I have to stop now as the tears flooding my eyes are precluding me seeing if this page is legible. Happy tears for you.


    Be safe.


    1. Roz — you are my “Bestie!” And I love you for that. You have been a constant in our lives for 50 years and I think it is you who has been our Guardian Angel. Thank you for your comments, your support, your encouragement and especially for asking “Are we there yet?” I’ve shared laughter and tears with you and plan to do so for many years to come.

  9. Congratulations Karen and CC Dick.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog, and have several other friends following your journey. They tell me how sorry they are that the blogs are over. Me too. Guess it is time I made a pilgrimage and used my travel benefits more. Get out and explore as you have done. You have inspired me to leave my routine, and see more of this big world around us, and push myself, as you have done. Please come visit in Naples, or in Guatemala. Got a school opening July 5th with visit to Semuc Champey, and another August 30th.
    Buen Camino wherever that may be, Penny

    1. Thanks so much Penny. You are the one person I always knew I could count on to put some adventure into a vacation. It was you and I who would always forge ahead and try crazy things when others preferred not to. You and Miracles in Action have opened up a whole new world of adventure for me and through you I have met so many wonderful people. Thanks for all your comments and your continued support.

  10. Fantastic! So happy for you, what an incredible journey on so many levels. I have looked forward to reading your adventures everyday, I know this will stay with you always. I look forward to seeing you in a few months and hearing more about it! Thanks again for sharing! Martha

  11. Thanks so much Martha. Loved reading your comments and your continued support along “The Way.” I am so looking forward to seeing you in Vegas again this year. You are an inspiration to me with how you get out and “RUN” every morning. You probably could have sprinted up all those uphill climbs that I always complained about! See you soon.

  12. Mama Karen making it happen! Another reason, and a r
    eally beautiful reason, to be amazed by you. You are a wonderful example and inspiration for a life being well-lived. I am so looking forward to an in person rendition of the trip next weekend. Way to go lady! Love you. –Lisapaige

    1. Way to go Karen!! Knew you could do it and you showed us all!!Have been on ship to Alaska with spotty internet. Big Dick and Head Nurse did it again. What a team. We’ll celebrate back in HB with a drink or two.
      Love you, Tom and Carol

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