PC #101 – Guest post – Jill Momper

Jill Momper is an extraordinary lady who, at the tender age of 70, is going to walk the Camino for the first time next year.

She lives in a small town north of Atlanta, Georgia. Here she tells us a little bit about herself, and her thoughts and feelings in preparing for the Camino.


I’ve never lived more than 50 miles from where I grew up, although I’ve traveled out of the country many times. I belong to a local hiking club and we hike frequently in the North GA mountains near the start of the Appalachian Trail.

I recently started a walking group of retired women. We call ourselves ‘the street walkers’ as we carry out our walks around town on city streets. I can tell you the name raises some eyebrows 🙂

I retired 5 years ago after working in marketing and advertising for 30 years.

I’m not sure what first sparked my interest in the Camino. I’ve gathered together all the articles and books I’ve collected for more than 10 years, and can find no beginning.  Just the date of an article I printed off the internet of September 16, 2003.

I’ve mentioned the Camino in conversation a few times over the years; our church sent the youth group to Spain two years ago and they walked a few miles which brought it back to mind. But it was a chance conversation with my son, where I said I’d always wanted to go but couldn’t find anyone else interested, and he said he’d love to walk with me.

It was the last thing I ever thought I’d hear from him, being a husband and father of 4 small children. It was then I decided to pursue my dream whether he can join me or not.

In February of this year we both attended a meeting about walking the Camino at an REI in Atlanta conducted by Tom Beck, founder of the Atlanta chapter of Americans on the Camino.  He has graciously offered to help me plan my way.

About myself.  I’ve always been a walker, my family were walkers. All the trips I’ve taken in the last 15 years involved hiking. Perhaps my PGS has been preparing me for this?

I am married to a man who hates to walk, which is funny because I plan our vacations and that’s what they revolve around. On our last trip, he said he was finished with hiking. So, that gave me permission to go this one alone.  And isn’t the Camino a solitary experience anyway?

I don’t know why I’m going, I just am.

Everything I’ve read says the countryside is beautiful and it is a life changing experience. What I’d like to do is rediscover the essential Jill, unencumbered by monikers such as wife, mother, grandmother.

Currently, I intend to walk the Frances in September 2014 starting in Leon, but it will depend on how I’m feeling as to how far I can walk.  If not Leon, then Ponferrada, or at least Sarria.

What I fear is that I may have waited too long. At the age of 70 any kind of health issue can arise without warning. I am fairly fit, but my age definitely weighs on me.

I don’t fear the journey, just regrets for not going sooner.


12 thoughts on “PC #101 – Guest post – Jill Momper

  1. Dear Jill, please try to put your regrets to the side and let them be! I have all sorts of health issues (was nearly 63 when I did my walk so I’m no spring chicken either!) and no doubt if you’ve followed Bill’s blogs for some time, you’ll know so have lots of others … and survived their journey on The Way 🙂 Re-read Bill’s blog about making what you fear your reality and keep ‘painting’ positive pictures in your mind when you think of your Camino preparations instead of anticipating problems. I hope you and the other ‘street walkers’ keep enjoying getting fit and that you can all support each other towards whatever your goals have, separately and collectively 🙂


  2. dear Jill, the Camino calls when you are ready, but when it does,that is all you can do. Rather then fear the physical challenge, prepare for your inner journey. Many never give tbe inner journey preparation any thought, but it will be the force that will , carry you forward when your body tells you no.
    Jill, 70 is not too late, I walked with an 82year old,who at that point of my journey was heaven send. Buen Camino


  3. Hey Jill,

    Good for you. Sounds like you are in great shape for it. I just walked it at 70 and other than still sore hips and feet had no trouble. I walked about 400 miles of it, and unlike you, i am definitely not a walker. Go for it from Leon. Can always stop or skip if you need to. I skipped from before Leon to Astorga. Astorga on was beautiful. Buen Camino. Steve


  4. Jill,

    Fear not! The Camino has called you; you must answer.

    I hate to admit this, but I too, am in the over 60 crowd. I will be leaving for my second Camino this upcoming Sunday morning. The first was in 2012. I am also joining the PGS Tour in 2014.

    My desire is to walk each Camino in the years remaining. Maybe the Norte will be the one after the PGS Tour, not sure yet. But I do want to keep on walking – and it is not necessary to have a companion to walk with on the Camino there are always plenty of pilgrims around.

    Ultreia y Buen Camino!


  5. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I read all your posts and am amazed and inspired by what you have done. The Camino has called me, and I am helpless to do otherwise.


  6. Hi, Jill!

    Though it is true that life is uncertain, why beat yourself down with the concept of being “too old”? Someone once said that “if you have a pulse, you have a purpose.”

    My experience was that most of the older set had the wisdom to listen to feet, knees, hips and general energy level. The result was fewer, if any injuries, compared to the younger set.
    All of the 70 yrs+ group that I started with or came across early (and there were many) made it all the way from SJPP to Santiago. Several had actually started from points 600-800 km before SJPP. (Now THAT is inspiring!)

    As regards companionship, it will not be a problem. (For reference – I walked from Sept. 29 (SJPP) to Oct 31 (SdC) last year. From Nov 2nd to the 9th, I did the loop through Muxia and Finisterre and saw plenty of people there as well.)

    You have been called; it is going to be what it is supposed to be so the timing must be perfect!

    Buen Camino,



  7. Hi Jill, first do not regret anything just do it. I have met young people well over 70, on the Camino. By the way I used to live in marietta , ga, I remenber it as a wooden beautiful area. Bill is leading a camino in portugal this spring, why not coming with us, you will feel more secure ?


    • Marie, I live in Gainesville, GA. All of North Georgia is green and beautiful. Yes, I’ve considered Bill’s trip, but if my son is able to join me, I want to walk with him. I’ll have to wait and see what his circumstances are after the first of the year.


      • Hi Namesake Jill,

        Wow, how exciting for you! You will do just fine, I can feel it! It will be an exciting time for you and your son. What a special experience that will be. ( Am I correct to believe he will be your walking partner?) I love your Street Walkers group, you are my kind of person! Love the raised eyebrows, especially there in Georgia. I attended Emory University in Atlanta back in the late 70s and remember how many eyebrows I raised then. It keeps people on their toes. Enjoy yourself and with your young spirit, you will have no problems. Best to you………… xoxo

        The “other” Jill


        • Jill,

          That other Jill is my wife who also walked with me this past summer. She has some experience.

          Steve (again)


  8. Hi Jill: It is awesome that you are planning your first Camino at the tender age of 70! Age is really just a number. You hike regularly which is more than half the battle right there. The other half of the equation is emotional. You are really sailing in that arena! You share that (1) you have been called to walk the Camino, (2) you wish to “rediscover the essential Jill unencumbered by” your various monikers, and (3) you have the support of your family even if you will make the journey solo. Many, many women walk the Camino solo and you will find many on this forum as inspiration. Continue planning, training and “getting all your ducks in a row” for this incredible journey! Out loud to us you have spoken your fear about possible limitations given your age. You now have your own permission to simply forget it, and carry on! Enjoy every moment of your preparation, and Buen Camino! Julie


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