Hike Like A Woman is all about community and female bonding. What better way to celebrate best friends than on Galentine’s Day. An unofficial holiday, Galentine’s Day is Feb. 13 and celebrates your best female palls. February is the month of love, and we love our best friends … or our Galentines. But with all this bestie love at HLAW, we can’t contain it to just one day. So each Monday and Tuesday we will be bring you a feature celebrating strong female friendship.

Today we welcome Ambassador Marianne as she tells us about her special relationship.

I have a BFF, a gal pal, a galentine…and the best hiking buddy anyone could ask for.
Never underestimate the value of a good friend. They are rare and special and worth keeping. I’ve been lucky in the friend department over the years. Some arrive just when you need them. Some are only with you for a short time. All of them teach you something about life and yourself. As I look back over the years I realize how important and timely each one has been.

In 2015 and in preparation of an upcoming epic decade birthday, I was hashing over ideas for a monumental way to mark this occasion. I was searching the internet for life changing hikes or walks. I read all about the Pacific Crest Trail but realized I wouldn’t be able to complete it in my allotted time frame and wasn’t sure I was “tough” enough… mentally or physically. I researched the Appalachian Trail and although intrigued, I had the same thoughts and concerns as I did with the PCT.

As I continued snooping and searching the web, the Camino de Santiago kept popping up.

I was less than vaguely familiar with it and started reading personal accounts, blogs and books. It fascinated me and called to me. Shortly after my obsession with the Camino cropped up I kept hearing and seeing more about it. A local indie movie theatre was having a special showing of a Camino documentary. I drug my Hubs along so he could get as excited about this trek as I was…(he was somewhat underwhelmed)!

In the spring of 2015 I was contacted by an old school chum. She was facilitating our 40th year high school reunion and was reaching out to the alumni with invitations to the fun event she was planning. We barely knew each other in high school (which I’ve often regretted)! We struck up a warm and comfortable conversation and started sharing bits and pieces of what our lives looked like.

We discovered we both had a love and passion for hiking…I was beyond thrilled.

We decided to meet up a few days later on a local walking trail…it would be life changing… That day we walked a few miles together and literally talked nonstop. We shared stories of our families and our careers, our hopes and dreams and our strengths and weaknesses. We decided to make this a weekly thing and started looking for places to meet up and hike.

There was a part of me that knew I was training to walk the Camino de Santiago, but I wasn’t completely sure what that looked like and Hubs was not interested in joining me… After several weeks of walking and hiking with this glorious new found friend, I told her of my dream to make that journey the following year. It would be my 60th year on the planet.
She looked at me a little bit funny and was uncharacteristically quiet. I knew I wanted to do it but wanted a buddy to join me. I also knew that the chances of finding someone willing and capable would be slim to none. I realized I would be “stuck” with someone for 6 weeks and it could make or break this journey.

A couple of weeks later on our weekly outing my new found buddy announced she would go with me. I can’t actually find the words to explain how this made me feel… relief, happiness, excitement, anticipation…so many emotions…but this was the beginning of an epic journey.

We started training in earnest, we researched and read and tried out all kinds of equipment. We tested hiking poles and purchased our backpacks and sleeping bags. We tried various trail snacks and camping soaps and toiletries and sports bras and undies and socks that would dry quickly. This adventure began months before we took our first step on the Camino de Santiago.

I realize there are few people I could make this trip with and have it be successful…maybe there is only one person…and I found her.

We boarded our plane on May 4, 2016. We didn’t have a clue what was in store for us and we were for sure flying by the seat of our pants. But we had each other and the same spirit of adventure and a friendship built on trust and affection and companionship…

We spent 43 days together. We supported each other through pain and leg cramps and swollen feet. We had tears and homesickness and smelly clothes and hard mattresses and communal bathrooms. She accompanied me to a clinic to be treated for infected blisters and I found us a cab ride when she thought she could have a stress fracture. We had each other’s back…and every night we laughed ourselves silly until we fell asleep exhausted.

I have a true friend and hiking partner and she is invaluable.

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