Blythewood man ready to tackle 500-mile hike in Spain

Lane training for his hike. Jeanne Reynolds photo.

By Jeanne Reynolds

Larry Lane is getting ready to celebrate his newly minted master’s degree with a trip to Europe. But don’t expect to find the Blythewood resident sightseeing in major cities, sipping lattes in quaint cafes or relaxing on the Riviera. Instead, he’s marking the milestone with a 500-mile hike.

“I’ve been thinking about the Camino Frances for a long time,” Lane said. “I’ve met a lot of people who’ve done it.”

Maybe not surprising, since pilgrims have been walking the Camino Frances for hundreds of years. Translated as the “French Way,” the trail is the most popular of the routes of the Way of St. James, the ancient pilgrimage route to Sanitago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.

For Lane, the trek will be more spiritual than religious. “The trail is designed to get out of it what you want to get out of it,” he said. “For me it’s the experience of seeing Spain and meeting the people who hike the trail and support the trail. I’m trying not to have too many expectations and just let it happen.”

The month-long hike won’t be Lane’s first long-distance adventure. After retiring from a 23-year military career in 2009, he spent six months hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. He comes by his wanderlust honestly: An Army career took him to Italy, Germany, Egypt, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Russia, Thailand and other far-flung destinations. While pursuing degrees in archaeology and art history from the University of South Carolina, he joined several field schools for digs in Ireland and other countries. And growing up, his father’s job took the family from Connecticut to South Carolina to Florida.

Lane has been training for the hike by walking at least four miles twice a day around his Longcreek Plantation neighborhood, fitted out with the same weight backpack and hiking poles he plans to use in Spain. In July he added several loops at nearby Sesquicentennial Park to his routine.

Once he hits the trail in early September, he expects to walk about 15 miles a day, staying in hostels and guest houses along the way. But he’s not making too many plans. “I have no reservations − I’ll just see where I am at the end of each day,” Lane said. “I prefer making decisions on the fly. Too much of a to-do list takes away from the spirit of the trail.”

One thing seems certain, though: this won’t be Lane’s last long-distance hike.
“It’s kind of an addictive hobby,” he said.

Categories: Blythewood, Local Voices, Richland County