Apps I Use On My Camino

 June 23     Today we enter the mainstream of perigrinos as we approach Santiago where my traveling pal Heleno will travel today and complete his Camino.  

     It is fortunate that we have cushioned our schedule with adequate time to not only cut the typical last 19 mile stage to a more comfortable ten today but have also reserved a room in a hotel for two nights there. The elevation profile also shows a bit of an uphill ascension.  

           I’d like to mention apps on my iPhone that I have used here. 

       I was not able to procure an app for the Portugese Camino. If I were on the French route, I would have been able to use Guthook’s Hiking Guide for that.   

      I have been very happy with the MAPS.ME app. MAPS.ME offers offline maps of all the cities, and of the countries of the world for free. MAPS.ME helps to locate yourself on a map, find the nearest restaurant, hotel, bank, gas station etc. It also doesn’t require an internet connection once you have downloaded the particular maps that you require. I required two downloads: one for northern Portugal, the other for Spain. They take map data from OpenStreetMap, a mapping project similar to Wikipedia, which allows users to create and edit maps. It is a miracle. 

      I back up my daily MAPS.ME route plan by checking Google and IPhone maps as well. Each day, I use their route planning feature, select the walking rather than driving route and compare it to the route in my Brierley Camino Portugese guidebook. Sometimes it is useful to know that there is an alternative route that is more direct for the walker, particularly if the Camino route is in sight of boring industrial zones or places where the forest has just been harvested and is cut over. It is also often distressing to me to walk south, east, or west instead of walking north to Santiago.  

    I check local weather with Dark Sky, as I do at home.  

    I log each day’s mileage and actual track on a map with Strava, my daily habit. I have yearly fitness goals for hiking and biking and use Strava to not only allow me to monitor my weekly goals but also to stay in touch with the social network of my friends and family who value the motivational aspects of this brilliant application of digital magic. Someday, Strava will aggregate data and personal goals for walking sports but right now only gives you those sets for running, biking, and swimming. That is why I have to tag my walks as runs.  

     I don’t need a wrist strap to engage Fitbit, due to the full functionality of the mobile track on my iPhone, whose motion sensor does all the work. It’s revealing that I walk an additional 20% mileage on most days on the Camino. Fitbit is picking up on my trips to pee in the woods, walk around getting food, moving about the albergues, etc. It all adds up. Check out the activity summary for last week here! 

    One app that has found its way into my daily practice for the last three months is SweetbeatHRV. For that, I am carrying a 1 ounce Wahoo chest strap that pairs via Bluetooth that enables me to take a 4 minute time pulse/ HRV recording right after I wake up each morning . The following chart summarizes the status. It now clear that my most favorable HRV readings are coming from these longer hiking days, another testimony to long and slow training. It is also clear that the last month (May) of my professional job as a school psychologist resulted in diminished heart health due to the much longer hours and stressors that I was experiencing at work. If there is a message in that finding, it to be that a stressful 40 work week schedule may predispose one to a heart attack.  

     If you haven’t yet explored HRV, do so.  Here’s a place to start.  

    Lastly, I also carry a navigational backup. It is a $10 Silva compass. I had it in my side pocket on my pack’s waist strap. If I came to a fork in the road I chose north.  

    Our own navigation through life is another matter. 






2 thoughts on “ Apps I Use On My Camino

  1. Robert

    Tom, What a wonderful hike for you guys!! I’ve been following your trip when able due to unreliable internet. As always, your writing when hiking really conveys a descriptive and an emotional breadth. Hello to Marcia. Robert


    1. Robert, good morning! We’re eating a Galatian lunch. It’s super cheap to do this. When in Portugal, I witnessed a most especially BMW motorcycle experience. We were beside a little harbor when I heard the familiar sound of the twin engine. Next not, one but 36 pristine silver smoke and orange 90s BMWs passed by. I am not exaggerating. I thought of you.


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