Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Hello, everyone.

I thought I'd take a break from walking--just writing about it so much has me dreaming about it and remembering it off and on all day long--and touch on a related subject.


Hiking socks come in lots of kinds--wool, poly, silk, cotton, blends. And it's really easy to guess wrong about which kind you will need in the end. I mean, you can read the comments and talk to people and walk around your neighborhood in them and still discover that the ones you brought aren't working out well for you.

I had thick socks with me as well as some medium thickness socks. When they came they were soft and felt great. But they weren't right for me, and even if they'd been right to start with, I mistreated them.

By the time we mailed things home, I was mailing home all of the thick socks. I didn't mail home the sort-of-thick ones, and I didn't mail home the medium thick ones. Why did I mail them home? Because I had put them throught the machine drying cycles and they shrank. I kept the medium-thick Thurlo silk blend socks, because they were the thinnest ones I had at that point.

How can socks shrink? you ask. I'm not quite sure, but it probably has to do with the special fibers that get used in hiking socks. Maybe also the way they knit them, for all I know. The ones from REI didn't stand up to the dryer, the ones from Amazon (including the Thurlo Ladies Long Distance Hikers) didn't stand up to the dryer--and I blame myself for this.

When I got home, I laundered them all one more time, using Pine Sol in the wash load, put them into a plastic sandwich bag labeled "ladies small hiking socks--do not put in dryer" and gave them to the Salvation Army. I couldn't even sleep overnight in them, they had shrunk so much.

At the end of Leon, before we hit Virgen Del Camino, we found a hiking store and I bought some new, thinner socks. They are blue, they were comfortable, and they are by Altus. I think this is the link (though the picture may be wrong, I didn't think they are that tall on the leg)
and they were (I think) 10 euro. They come in sizes, too. I told the nice man my tennis shoe size in US sizes, he looked on his handy chart, and I got the size 42.

Later on, when we got to Madrid, I found another pair, even thinner, in the El Corte Ingles department store. These are Nikes, I think, and they're wicking runners' socks. The right and left are not the same. And I don't put them into the dryer!

I should have packed thin socks to start with. You can always double up thin socks if you need to. You can't put thick socks on a diet. Who knows? Maybe if I'd had a double pair of thin socks on the second day, the one with all the flooding rain, etc., there wouldn't have been so many huge blisters. It is impossible to know for sure.

I didn't want to leave the post with no pictures at all, so here is one:
Relics of St. Juan de Ortega, engineer and priest
I didn't put this picture in earlier, but I thought it was pretty neat, so here it is. This is at the monastery of San Juan de Ortega, in a kind of side chapel. St. Juan was a major force behind the road through the Montes de Oca, back in the day. As it was a graded but unpaved road (not even caliche!) there were parts of the walk after Villafranca and before San Juan de Ortega where we wondered if we were on the same muddy track as the saint had laid out. Though there are windmills in the area and it's awfully wide for a medieval road!