The Primitivo is known for being the most difficult of all Camino paths. Some of the daily elevation changes are intimidating. How the various stages work out will depend on the walker’s plans, of course – but the Primitivo has fewer options than the more popular Frances, so there is only so much one can do.
According to one site, the above stage was their hardest. That’s about a 600 meter (2,000 foot) climb over the course of 9km (about 5 1/2 miles). That’s a decent climb and it’s not even half of the entire day’s walking!
The hard/strenuous climbs I’ve been on have averaged nearly 1,000′ per mile (like Mt. Lassen or Mission Peak). So I decided that, having completed a distance baseline hike, it was time to see about elevation gain. That’s how I found myself attempting what is probably the hardest hike I’ve ever done. Murietta Falls was a calf-busting, knee-pounding, nearly 12 mile trail that involved over 1,270 meters (4,000 feet) of elevation gain.
I took a leisurely 7 hours to complete the hike as I did not want to hurt myself and have to admit I am old. It was crazy steep – at times I was surprised my feet were even sticking to the path and wondered if maybe I should rope up. (Kidding – mostly.) As bad as my muscles and heart got abused on the way in, my knees were in danger of failing on the way out (which was about 80% downhill). I was very thankful for my trekking poles which I am completely sold on now.
I finished well, but I was pretty wiped when it was over. The next few days my muscles and tendons felt tight and it took a bit of stretching each time I got up from sitting for very long before I trusted myself to take a step. By day three I was nearly back to normal but still feeling it.
So the good news is that I can probably handle the hardest Primitivo day already.
Handling the next day, however, is questionable!