Adventure HQ

It’s been so enjoyable to see many of the old names pop up recently in my notifications to share the excitement about my new journey to Spain. Ken you make me laugh, I promise to make it fun for you too!

I was searching for a good book to relax with in my week of nothing before the trail begins, and serendipitously between the few books my friend keeps on his shelf, I pulled out a book called ‘The Pilgrimage’ by Paulo Coelho. I looked at the title, thought ‘this is fitting’, turned the book around to read the back and raised my voice a few decibels when I discovered the
book was about the El Camino de Santiago. Not exactly the same trail, as I’m taking the northern route as opposed to the route starting from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, but it hasn’t taken long for trail magic to enter my world again.


Today I’m heading to ‘Adventure HQ’ in the hope to supplement my current gear with a few additional bits and pieces I either wore out on the trail (hiking poles), or left in Vancouver thinking I’d be returning before my next hike. Unfortunately some of my gear that is on the other side of the world in North America are my favourite pieces of clothing and gear: my Marmot wind breaker, my MSR water bladder, my Arcteryx puffy jacket and my tiny little pocket knife for fending off mountain lions and cutting moleskin!

These are the items on today’s shopping list:
– suitcase (to leave my current life in Dubai)
– socks
– hiking poles
– sleeping mat
– smart wool top
– arnica cream
– rain jacket
– rain pants
– pocket knife
– water bladder
– mini bike light for tent
– Velcro for gaiters
– cheap sunglasses
– cheap warm gloves
– little hook on sunscreen
– wipes
– protector for maps
– big safety pin
– leukotape
– garbage liner bag
– lip balm

When I arrive in Spain I’m hoping to purchase a local SIM card for my phone and some snack food before I start the hike. I also need to plan how to get to the start point of the trail in Irun from San Sebastián airport and a possible place to stay on night zero. Any ideas?

In the cab on the way to Time Square we got caught in a traffic jam long enough for the driver to get out his phone and start watching a movie. When he tired of this he sat and counted all his money, took a phone call, then returned his eyes to the road and continued driving. We were stopped no more than 5 minutes. Multitasking at its finest!


I was full of excitement as we pulled up to Adventure HQ, thinking that the sheer size of the store would mean they’d have at least something close to what I was looking for. There is a significant difference in hiking gear in the US compared to the Middle East, and as I should have guest the store seemed more about expensive brands than practical gear. The only smart wool items were long sleeve base layers, and the only foam sleeping pad was about as thin as my Therm-a-rest Z Lite after 6 months on the PCT. The man in the store told me the sleeping pad in my hand was for ‘one time use only’. This made me laugh. He then showed me the Neo Air. I looked at the price tag, rolled my eyes and grabbed the foam mat.


Out of all the items on my list I walked out of the store with the four most important: A Marmot rain jacket, Black Diamond Hiking poles (Z-fold but they didn’t have the carbon fiber ones I love), the sleeping pad and a bike light for my tent. My new mission will be to find a store in Dubai that sells anything ‘cheap’. Will have to tackle that one tomorrow.


9 thoughts on “Adventure HQ”

  1. I have not walked the Camino del Norte, but if it is somewhat similar to the Frances way, it should have enough albergues to have dinner and sleep in, along the way. I also wouldn’t carry a sleeping bag with me – a liner would do. Or just a lightweight summer bag at the most. No need for big hydration bladder (1-2 Liters should be enough), or a sleeping mat. Nor a tent, for that matter.

    Generally speaking, warm clothes (+ rain gear), small backpack, 1 water bottle and a liner should be enough.

    I’ll state again – my experience is from the “standard” route. So if your research led you to believe the northern route is different, just ignore my suggestions.

    And I also read “The Pilgrimage” before my Camino walk. Didn’t like it one bit. Found it way too pretentious.

  2. A cheep store in Dubai, I see you still have your sense of humor! You might have a better chance once you arrive in Spain, but I am really not sure. Have fun, I know we will as we follow along on your next adventure.

    Keep Hiking….

  3. Oh, and another thing I recalled – Spain has a chain of hiking equipment stores called Decathlon (They are all over Europe, actually), which have several cheap home brand equipment (mostly reasonable quality), and also sell other brands as well. I see they have a store in Irun as well. Might be worth to check out, if you are still missing some items.

  4. Off on adventure!! Wonderful….Be safe….!! So good to be able to go along with you as you tell us about your adventures….thanks for sharing with us….b

  5. Sounds like a lot of good advice coming your way for obtaining new gear. Enjoy your hike as I’ll also be following your blog. Soon I’ll have some “reading material” for you. Your own copy of the Del Sur Yearbook including MukMuk’s page documenting your epic visit!! I’m currently reading “Tracks” a woman’s walk across the Outback. Leigh suggested it! Happy Trails, My Friend!!

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