Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, July 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #294 July 2024

HAPPY JULY 4th! Both Ralph and I just got hit with COVID (for the first time!), we won’t be celebrating, but we sure have in the past! 

It sure would be fun to read them,  so I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community. 

1.PCTA has an app now!
2.The newly-minted “Capital to Tahoe Trail”
4.Keeping Your Cool
ohn Muir Trail Hikers: How to reach Yosemite NTL park trailheads via public and private carriers.
6.Much is coming up with ALDHA-West.

#1. The 
Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has launched the PCT Closures App. June 25. “We are thrilled to announce the launch of a brand-new smartphone app and website at designed for all who love the PCT. It’s free to use and can provide “critical trail closures and ‘trip-altering” updates along the PCT.” What’s closed, destroyed, or on fire is perhaps the most important information you can have.”

“The PCT Closures App is available for download on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The website version is live now as well – check it out. Plan ahead and prepare, and check for updates often. Your trip, and your life might depend on it.” Download here:

#2. A new side trail/quests is now open to PCT hikers. The 16-mile Capital to Tahoe Trail provides adventure seekers access to an incredible trail system in the Sierra Nevada mountains. “Eight years in the making—the trail is a gateway from Carson City, Nevada, to the Tahoe Rim Trail, connecting to the Pacific Crest Trail.”

“The quest from Carson City to Canada is estimated to take two to three months. “The Capital to Tahoe Trail provides the first non-motorized singletrack connection from Carson City, NV to the Tahoe Rim Trail and trails in the Lake Tahoe region. From the steps of the Capitol building in Carson City, a hiker is now able to quickly reach a singletrack trail that could take them on an incredible journey of 1,152 miles to Mexico or 1,606 miles to Canada.

The trail required partnerships from Carson City, Nevada Division of State Parks, USDA Forest Service and private property owners. Muscle Powered, the nonprofit organization responsible for the creation of the trail, will be formally recognized for this achievement on March 6, 2024 in Washington, D.C.”

#3. More about ticks: Last issue, I wrote about our recent experience with ticks—namely warning that they are out there. Here is what to do after a tick bite–including how to remove a tick. For more general info from the CDC, go here.  

#4. Keeping Your Cool. Many places in the U.S. are extremely hot right now. That’s not the ideal weather for hiking in my opinion—and according to many sources, it can be extremely risky to hike when temperatures climb. However, there is much you can do to mitigate the situation.

According to Hike OnRecent studies have shown that the optimum temperature range for long-distance walks or hikes is 50 to 55 degrees F. Above this range is considered hiking in hot weather, when a hiker’s performance degrades as much as two percent for every five-degree increase in temperature.”

According to Penn State: Age matters: “Studies have shown—when you look at the statistics, most of the people who die during heat waves are older people,” W. Larry Kenney, professor of physiology and kinesiology at the school said, “The climate is changing, so there are going to be more — and more severe — heat waves. The population is also changing, so there are going to be more older adults. And so it’s really important to study the confluence of those two shifts.”

“… young, fit, healthy people tend to tolerate heat better,” “Kenney said. “Older people, people on medications, and other vulnerable populations will likely have a tolerance limit below that.”

“However, because “humans adapt to heat differently depending on the humidity level, there is likely not a single cutoff limit that can be set as the “maximum” that humans can endure across all environments found on Earth.”

 According the S.F. Chronicle:  “Heat kills more in U.S. than other weather disasters,” reads the headline of an article by Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle today (7/3/24).  She reports (from the National Weather Service) that in the last decade, “an average of 188 people died each year from heat—representing nearly half of all weather-related deaths–such as floods, tornadoes, and hurricane.  

Gina Soloman, chief of the division of Occupational, Environmental and Climate Medicine at UCSF, says, “Heat harms more people that other extreme weather events because many people underestimate it’s impact and don’t take precautions.” Note that deaths caused by heat not only include heat stroke, but “may also include heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure,” according to Dr. Soloman.  

Susan’s Compilation of Suggestions and Tips for those who plan to  hike, backpack or otherwise exercise when it’s hot. NPR’S, “How to exercise safely in the heat” by Suzette Lohmeyer. UPDATED AUGUST 11, 20238:12 PM ET. had a wealth of information. 

Consider these:
1) Time of Day: Generally, the best choice is early morning. Second best is likely to be late afternoon or nearly evening—though the sun may have heated up your surroundings. Avoid the mid-day intense rays of the sun. If you must be out mid-day, or other times of day, choose a shadier place to exercise.

2) How to dress: Wear a lightweight hat. A hat with a brim provides more protection than a baseball cap; a hat with flaps on the back also provides even more. 

Wear loose-fitting clothing of material that is sweat-wicking. That allows your skin to perspire and cool. Avoid cotton. Wear sunscreen—apply well before you start out and re-apply as needed.

Susan adds: I’m not sure all agree with this, but Carol Ewing Garber, professor of movement science at Columbia University, says exposing more skin (as long as you also wear sunscreen, and avoid the brightest hours of the day) can be helpful, too. She adds that this is because “the more skin you have exposed to the atmosphere the easier it is for sweat to evaporate.”

Susan adds: Use a hiking umbrella. Though I have no way of scientifically measuring the increased benefit and impact of using a hiking umbrella, I have  experienced the difference in comfort level when using one.

3) Cool yourself: Drench yourself/ drench your hat and clothes with water.

4) When to eat: Garber says it’s fine to eat a light meal at least an hour before you exercise, two-three hours prior for a hearty meal. You don’t want to eat immediately before you head out. Your body needs time to digest your food beforehand. In addition, you don’t want the added body heat that digesting your food produces.  

In addition, stuffing yourself after heavy exercise is not wise because your body needs time to cool to return to normal again.

5) When to drink: Stay hydrated: Tank up before you start exercising—at least an hour beforehand. Garber recommends replenishing what’s lost during your workout by drinking somewhere between a half liter to a liter for every hour you’re exercising in the heat.

Drink water (preferably cold). IF you’re exercising longer than an hour, consider a sports drink to replenish sodium and electrolytes.”

Electrolytes: This article, from Utah State University discusses the use of electrolytes, compares products now available AND provides a recipe for making your own electrolyte beverage. Sip Smart: Homemade Electrolyte Drink Recipe

6) How do you know if you’re dehydrated? Check the color of your urine. Clear or close to it, is good. Dark yellow or brown is a warning. And if you haven’t peed as much as usual, that is a good sign you are dehydrated. Hyponatremia—drinking too much water is the result of drinking electrolyte deficient sources. “

7) Know the difference between dry and humid heat and take that extra water vapor into account. In general, dry heat is easier on your body because your sweat helps you cook and stay in a healthy manner.

8) Ease up in the heat and acknowledge your limits. When you exercise even in perfect conditions, there’s a lot of competition among different body parts for oxygenated blood, says Garber. “Your body is trying to send blood to your heart to keep it moving and to your skin to cool you down and to the area of the body you’re exercising,” she explains. “And you only have about five liters of blood, so it can really put a stress on your cardiovascular system. That’s on a good day.”

9) Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke and, and what to do. The warning signs of heat exhaustion include fatigue, extreme thirst, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, muscle cramping and just a general sense of lightheadedness.

For heat exhaustion: According to Matthew Madison Leonard, MD at John Hopkins Emergency Center. Stop the activity; spray them with water. . Most important places to cool are the head and face, the arm pits, and the groin, he says. “These are all areas of high blood flow and, when cooled, the blood near the surface is transported back toward the core of the body and sent to the vital organs.” Link to NPR article here. 

The warning signs for heatstroke (a much more serious emergency, includes the above and can also include confusion—meaning the person suffering may be in denial about their state. Other signs may be: vomiting, seizures, cardiovascular collapse or passing out and a lack of sweating. For heat strokethe CDC recommends:
Call 911 for emergency medical care.
Stay with the worker until emergency medical services arrive.
Move the worker to a shaded, cool area and remove outer clothing.
Cool the worker quickly, using the following methods:
With a cold water or ice bath, if possible
Wet the skin
Place cold wet cloths on the skin
Soak clothing with cool water
Circulate the air around the worker to speed cooling.
Place cold wet cloths or ice on the head, neck, armpits, and groin; or soak the clothing with cool water.

10. Think clearly: Hikers and backpackers, runners, and others who enjoy outdoor activity often find it hard to postpone or quit their activity. But, it’s important to listen to your body. When hot weather starts up, we may feel the urge to get outdoors, but it takes time for the human body to adapt to big changes in temperature and/or humidity. So instead of risking your health, even life, by jumping in–slow down and allow your body to adapt the the changing weather.

#5. John Muir Trail. Facebook group, Administrator, Inga Aksamit. “See the private shuttle list that is authorized by both Yosemite National Park and Inyo National Forest on the Yosemite website (see the last menu item called “Point to Point Transportation for Hikers”). Link here.  

“Inyo has a list of authorized service providers but currently do not list shuttle drivers. They have informed me of several who are authorized, and they match up with the Yosemite list. They plan to update their site with shuttle providers when they can get to it. Note that East Side Sierra Shuttle is mentioned on the Inyo site as *not* being an authorized shuttle provider.”

“The graphic I (Inga) have used in the past is outdated and has been removed by Inyo National Forest and should not be circulated in the future.”

Another option: DISCOVERYOSEMITE.COM. Yosemite Tours by Discover Yosemite. These are day tours of Yosemite National Park in small, comfortable buses with fun, intelligent guides! Departs from hotels in Oakhurst, Bass Lake and Coarsegold, California.

Susan: More info will be coming out–stay tuned on Facebook. 

#6. ALDHA-West (American Long Distance Hiking Association-West) is the organization that awards the Triple Crown of Hiking to those who have completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails.  They also organize several hiking events—including the regional RUCKS and a  Gathering.  The group also awards scholarships to some who need a financial boost to be able to hikes the trails.

The ALDHA-West’s TRIPLE CROWN APPLICATION period has now opened and ALDHA-West will continue to accept applications until August 31. If you have completed the Triple Crown, follow the link here to apply. 

The Gathering 2024 will be held Sept 27-29 is at Camp Augusta in Nevada City, CA. It is a fun time to meet or reconnects with other hikers and share trail stories, enjoy some good food, and kick back. You’ll enjoy hearing from world class speakers, experience the award ceremony of the Triple Crown Hikers, and more.

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

Susan “backpack45” Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA

Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo; Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, June 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, June 2024
1) Anish sets new record on the Arizona Trail
2) Camino de Santiago: Changes to AIRPORT BUS SANTIAGO

3) Do we really need 10,000 steps?
4) Video: Bay Area Ridge Trail (Tom Coroneos)
5) Ticks are at it again
6) Regional: S.F. Crosstown and Doublecross Trail—Updates/Guided walks

Welcome to our newest neighbor

#1. Heather Anderson, Anish, now holds “the overall and only female unsupported FKT [fastest known time] for the 800-Mile Arizona Trail!
24 days! The trail travels across the entire length of Arizona from the U.S.-Mexico border to Utah. Heather completed the trail unsupported—meaning she hiked end-to-end with all of her supplies–including food.  WOW!   

Heather wrote, “Trekking the entire length of AZ without resupplying or accepting trail magic, or utilizing water caches was incredibly challenging…physically, but more so mentally.” Among those challenges were falling and sustaining an injury to her head, encountering “killer bees, rattlesnakes and a mountain lion.”

One may think of the SW as being all desert and hot, but it varies from ice and snow and temperatures below freezing in the north and extreme heat in the south. This trek is known for its lack of water—finding a small puddle was a big deal.

Heather said, “This experience revealed to me a new appreciation for my backcountry skill set and confidence in myself. I also had quite a few very personal breakthroughs, which I attribute to prolonged time alone in nature.”
Sign up for Heather’s WORDS FROM THE WILD newsletter

If you want to learn from the experts, Heather and Arleen are offering a couple of backpacking retreats/classes:

1) Join us at the Quarter Way, which is in located a stone’s throw from the Appalachian Trail in Ceres, Virginia October 13th-16th, 2024. This 3-day retreat will include instructional sessions, Q&A, and a practical overnight backpacking trip to use your gear and practice your skills. All women+ are invited to join us. This is a safe and welcoming space.

Words from the Wild (Heather’s site) is going to Alaska and Costa Rica and has these limited! openings:
2) August’s inaugural WFW Trip to Alaska has had a cancellation, so there is 1 OPENING available! Snag it before someone else does!
3) The February 3-9, 2025 trip to Costa Rica still has 3 discounted spots available and 12 at full price.

 #2. Camino Info: Changes to AIRPORT BUS SANTIAGO. Not everyone takes the bus from Santiago airport, but for those who will–Facebook posting by JohnnieWalker Santiago on FACEBOOK May 15, 2024.  “Hi John. Important news about the bus connections between the airport and the city that will try to remedy the lack of direct connection some years ago. From next May 24 [2024] there will be two connection lines; one will be direct (without intermediate stops) and faster (along the highway) with only two stops: the airport and the intermodal station (bus station) already in the city. Likewise, the route between the intermodal station and the airport will also have only these two stops on this line.

“The second bus line will also connect the airport with the intermodal station, maintaining the current route that runs along the conventional road and different streets of the city, but now it will have new features. In order to optimize this line and avoid passenger overloads, on the route between the airport and the city it will not be possible to board the bus at the stops located in the urban area and it will only be possible to get off the bus at these urban stops.

“Likewise, on the route between the city and the airport, it will only be possible to board the bus at the stops located in the urban area and it will not be possible to get off the bus except at the few stops located in the rural area or, finally, at the airport.

“Therefore, passengers will not be able to use this bus to travel between stops located in the urban area of the city, which will lighten the service and facilitate its use for travelers who use this service between the airport and the various stops in the city. This will mean that it will not be possible to take the bus at Praza de Galicia to go from the city to the airport (as this stop will become “Arrival stop from the airport”.

“Each of these bus lines will have a frequency of 40 minutes alternating from the airport, so there will be a bus from the airport to the city every 20 minutes. From the 24th there will be an adaptation period of 15 days in which passengers will be informed about the new rules.” A session on video in Spanish is linked here:  

#3. 10,000 Steps a Day? The controversy continues. I personally consider it a worthwhile goal, but an arbitrary number. Here a bit of info from a recent study. “Do you really need 10,000 steps a day? Here’s what the science says. The average American gets about 4,000 steps a day—but how much is enough? A recent study offers some insights” Here are some excerpts from an article by Tara Haelle, March 20, 2024. National Geographic premium article.  

“Goodwin [Ashley Goodwin, an exercise scientist at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York] found it especially interesting that the benefit differed so little between those who sat for long periods each day and those who sat less.

Goodwin continues, “That’s really great because it drives home the message that simply walking a little bit more than you usually do is going to confer some health benefits, no matter where you’re starting from.”

“’The average American gets about 4,000 steps a day,’ says Mario Garcia, a cardiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.” “… individuals over age 60 benefited most in the study, probably because people tend to decondition very quickly as they age.”

Matthew Ahmadi, an epidemiologist at the University of Sydney in Australia and one of the study’s authors wrote, “Past research had shown that higher step counts are linked to better heart health and a longer life, and a separate body of research has shown the increased risks of cardiovascular disease and death associated with more sedentary time. But this study brought those bodies of research together to learn whether extra daily steps could offset the risks of sedentary behavior even in those who spend much of the day seated.”

Columnist Tara Haelle added “In fact, highly sedentary people in the study began experiencing a heart benefit starting as low as 4,300 steps per day, when their risk of heart disease fell by 10 percent. Doubling that step count to 9,700 steps a day doubled the benefit.

Similarly, highly sedentary people began seeing a 20 percent reduced risk of death starting at 4,100 steps per day. Again, that benefit nearly doubled to 39 percent when their daily step count increased to 9,000. By about 6,000 daily steps, highly sedentary people got the same benefit as more active people.

Ahmadi says a key takeaway from the study is that people who cannot reduce their sedentary time can still benefit by boosting their daily steps.

#4. Devil’s Gulch Hike, Samuel P. Taylor SP. Tom Coroneos, who put this video with Platero music together, is one of the “team members” of our weekly Bay Area Ridge Trail hikes. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend who is a videographer and captures their adventures! This episode is an out-and-back walk in Samuel Pt. Taylor SP in Marin. One of the easiest of our outings—flat, on a well-maintained trail and surrounded by redwoods, ferns, wildflowers–and hundreds of butterflies also enjoying the sunny day.

An unexpected highlight was running into Rob and Kathryn Dunning, who have been volunteer hosts in the park since November. They will be leaving shortly to host at Eagle Point Campground, Emerald Bay State Park at Lake Tahoe, and will return to Samuel P. Taylor again in the fall.  What a life! Doing good, living in gorgeous places, meeting people from around the world, and enjoying great hiking!

Along the Bolinas Ridge Trail
#5. Watch out for ticks! On a recent hike along Bolinas Ridge Trail in gorgeous Marin County, we ran into a less wonderful sight! Ticks all over the dog we were hiking with—and while trying to remove them—climbing aboard our hiking partner, Patricia. The count was upwards of fifty. Being at the end of the line as we went through the tall grasses lining the narrow dirt trail, I ended up with only one minute critter. Luckily, none of the ticks had time to burrow in.

Katelyn Jetelina, in her State of Affairs: May 23, 2024 State of Affairs: May 23, 2024 Your Public Health Weather Report wrote: “Ticks thrive in the warm weather and lush vegetation of spring. Ticks can carry pathogens that cause over a dozen diseases, including Lyme disease. Lyme disease often causes flu-like symptoms and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious complications such as neurological and cardiac issues. 

“Today, emergency room department visits for tick bites are high. This seems to be a middle-of-the-road season compared to other years. Regardless, by the end of the year, more than 500,000 people will be diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease alone. 

“Not all ticks carry disease, and the risk of contracting a tick-borne illness depends on the tick species, geographic location, and how long the tick is attached. In general, tick diseases are more concentrated in the Northeast.  (Source: CDC; Annotated by YLE)

“You can do many things to protect yourself from ticks, such as applying DEET or picaridin, treating clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin, and conducting thorough tick checks after outdoor activities. Subscribe info here. 

This post was a team effort at YLE crafted by Andrea Tamayo, Sarah Gillani, Jessica Steier, and Katelyn Jetelina. Our main goal is to “translate” the ever-evolving public health science so that people will be well-equipped to make evidence-based decisions.” 

#6.Regional: San Francisco’s Crosstown and Doublecross walks. “Celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Crosstown Trail by getting out for a walk this June. We are offering over 15 guided walks and events you can choose from. See blurbs below or visit the event page to learn more and register. Link for remaining hikes here! 

“New Route & New Website: This year we are celebrating our anniversary with the adoption of a new route and website! The Double Cross Trail forms an “X” with the Crosstown Trail, and traverses the city from the southwest to the northeast. We’re tweaking the original Crosstown Trail route, highlighting new or enhanced trailside features. These changes are motivated in part by a diversion to see a new mural on a birthday hike for Bob Siegel, champion of the Crosstown Trails.” 

A few of the June guided hikes: Follow the link to see all and/or to register!!!!

Wednesday, June 5 | 9 a.m. to noonish.The Midweek Up, Over, and Down Special: Start at Duboce Park, ascend to Twin Peaks, and descend to Glen Park BART by wandering back and forth from the Double Cross Trail to the Ridge Trail to the Crosstown Trail. The 6.5 mile walk will permit us to experience the splendor of trail connections in the heart of the city.

Saturday, June 15 | 9:30 a.m. to about 4:30 p.m. The BART-to-BART Crosstown Combo: This 10-mile walk features many iconic San Francisco landmarks. We start at Glen Park BART, walk Glen Canyon to the “Tri-Trail Junction” where the Crosstown, Double Cross, and Bay Area Ridge Trails meet. Then over Twin Peaks, through Tank Hill, Mt. Olympus, and Buena Vista Park. We then head to Nob Hill, Chinatown, and North Beach to descend the Greenwich Steps to Levi’s Plaza and continue to Embarcadero Station for a true BART-to-BART excursion.

Friday, June 21 | 9 a.m. to late afternoon. A Crosstown Solstice Walk: Borrowing from our new Double Cross route and the original Crosstown Trail, we will walk from the Embarcadero’s northeast tip to Lands End, a 16-mile meander through the heart of the city and out to the ocean. Highlights include Chinatown, Nob Hill, Alamo Square, Mt. Sutro, Lobos Creek Valley, and more.

Sunday, June 23. Sunrise to Sundown: The Joyful 5th Anniversary SFCT Free-for-All. Set out on your own or with as many friends as you gather to walk, ride, or run as many miles as your soles/souls permit. Members of the Crosstown Trail Coalition will be at the Tri-Trail Junction at Portola Dr. and Twin Peaks Blvd., (the convergence of the Crosstown Trail, the Double Cross Trail, and Bay Area Ridge Trail) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to share your joy, whenever you stride through. No registration needed.

Saturday, June 29. 10 a.m. to about 4 p.m. Up, Down, and Around the Crosstown and Double Cross Trails. On this approx. 6-mile walk, we’ll trek up, down, and around San Francisco’s famous peaks on the Crosstown and Double Cross Trails. Explore different habitats, discover secret stairs, and take in the stunning views–while catching our breath!”

Remember, there are several more events this month; check the website for more hikes, info, registration. Mailing address: Crosstown Trail, 1074 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA

Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo; Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.  

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, May 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #292 May 2024
1. Seven Reasons to Use a Hiking Umbrella
2. It’s Not Dew
3. Gear Cleaning, Repair, and Maintenance by Treeline Review
4. New rules for airlines should benefit passengers.
Are Baby Rattlesnakes the Most Dangerous Biters?
6. Regional: 
Springtime Hikes in a New Bay Area Preserve: Welcome        to Máyyan ‘Ooyákma /Coyote Ridge
7. Regional: ParkFest: Celebrating 90 Years of Your East Bay Regional Parks

#1Seven Reasons to Use a Hiking Umbrella
And it’s for a lot more than the routine writes Whitney LaRuffa. (Six Moon Designs. Jun 1, 2023.).

1. Shade on a sunny day. We all know the risks of exposure to too much sun and the potential for skin cancer. If you are like me, you burn easily and having to slather on tons of sunblock while hiking can be a chore, not to mention the extra weight in your pack. By using an umbrella, I can walk in the shade all day long, it helps protect me form harmful UV rays all the while keeping me cool as a I pound out the miles.
Susan adds: A couple of years back I did an experiment on my back deck to see how the temperature would differ on our table with and without an umbrella. It was unscientific, but there was a measurable difference in the temperature between the shaded and non-shaded of degrees difference between the two situations. If you are hiking, this can make a big difference in your comfort and physical well-being.   

2. Dry cover on a wet day. Let’s face it, hiking all day in the rain sucks. Besides being soggy, it can chill you to the bone and it makes breaks less than desirable. With an umbrella I can often hike with my rain jacket unzipped, it helps keep me remain drier as I move along, and best of all, it gives me a dry place to relax and snack during breaks.
Susan adds: There have been times when we have needed shelter in order to take a break or have lunch and we have turned to our umbrellas for help.

Lunchtime on the Vezelay Camino Route, France 2018.

3.Better condensation management in rain gear: As stated above I often use my umbrella in conjunction with my rain gear, every hiker has experienced that clammy wet feeling when trudging along in their rain gear, and often ask themselves, am I really any drier in this sweat jacket? Well with an umbrella the outside of my jacket stays dry reducing the condensation, it also allows me to vent my jacket as I move along minimizing the sweat and condensation against my skin.

4. It’s the door to my tarp: When using a flat tarp as a shelter I will often open my umbrella and use it at my head as a makeshift door. While this will not keep out the critters, I have often found it to be a great way to create a small wind break at night. It also provides the mental security of nothing looking at my mug while I sleep soundly in the woods.

5.Protection during nighttime bathroom trips: The only thing worse than trudging through the rain for days on end is when you lay awake at 3 am in your shelter as the rain comes down debating if you should get up and pee or try to hold it until the morning. No one wants to fight getting on rain gear to relieve themselves, but with an umbrella this task becomes easy. Simply crawl out of your bag, slip on your shoes, deploy the umbrella and now you have a dry place to go relieve yourself.

6.Moon blocker when cowboy camping: I cannot tell you how many times I have been cowboy camping only to be wake up in the middle of the night by a big fat moon shining it’s light down on me like a spotlight. Instead of trying to get creative using my Buff as a sleep mask, I simply open my umbrella, and lay my head under its canopy for a great light blocker.

7.Dry place to cook: I won’t get into the details here, but in 2016 I might have burned a whole in the side of my pyramid tent when I was cooking inside trying to avoid the rain. While I came out of the situation unscathed, I can’t say the same for my shelter. I realized that I had the perfect place to stay dry while cooking the whole time – my umbrella. Now when it’s time to heat up some water and cook the morning or evening meal (cold soaking is for folks much harder than me), I simply sit under my umbrella nice and dry.

“I encourage you to consider getting an umbrella before you set off on your next hike. Our Silver Shadow family of umbrellas includes 3 different models to suit everyone’s budgets, both financially and weight wise.”Happy Trails, Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa

#2. Nope, It’s Not Dew. “Have you ever gone outside on an early spring morning and spied ‘dew’ on the tips of grass blades or along the margin of the leaves? It may actually be guttation, a mixture of plant internal juices that are exuded overnight.” David L. Nelson has the scoop in Bay Nature Magazine. 

Susan: I never took biology so I know little about the photosynthesis (part of the process by which plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen). This article, which I found fascinating, explains part of this process and why what we may have thought was dew is from fog, etc. from the air around us is actually juices excreted by the plant itself. 

Nelson continues: “However, at night, photosynthesis shuts down and the stomata are closed, conserving water. If the soil is moist, the root pressure will increase the pressure in the xylem, forcing the leaf to offload some of the fluid. You could think of it as an emergency escape route. When the plant needs to release fluid, and the stoma are closed, the fluid finds another way out. It exits through specialized pores called hydathodes; they are located at the tip of the blade of grass or at the margin of a leaf, typically at the tip of a marginal tooth or serration. If the humidity is high, the guttation does not rapidly evaporate, but accumulates at the leaf tip.”

#3. Gear Cleaning, Repair, and Maintenance. Treeline Review provides info on how to “clean and repair the gear you have —so you don’t need to buy new.” This is invaluable information for anyone venturing into the backcountry. All the articles in this overviewCleaning, Repair, and MaintenanceThe individual articles:: How to Fix Zippers on Outdoor Gear , Clean and Repair a Down JacketClean and Repair Gore-Tex and Waterproof ShellsHow to Wash a TentHow to Wash a Sleeping BagHow to Repair a Tent

Treeline Review online is free and it’s well worth your time to read their newsletters.  

#4. New rules for airlines should benefit passengers. The Transportation Department on Wednesday, April 24, announced new rules—they are to help with refunds, and avoiding surprise fees late in the booking process.

“Passengers deserve to know upfront what costs they are facing and should get their money back when an airline owes them — without having to ask,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Some of the new rules/changes are:
“There’s now one definition of a “significant” delay.  Now, according to the D.O.T., there will be one standard: when departure or arrival is delayed by three hours for domestic flights and six hours for international flights.”

“Passengers will get prompt refunds for cancellations or significant changes for flights and delayed bags, for any reason. Refunds will be automatic, without passengers having to request them.” They must be made in the form the original purchase was made–check/credit card, etc. and are “due within seven days for credit card purchases and within 20 days for other payments.”

Costs to be given upfront! “Fees for checked baggage and modifying a reservation must be disclosed upfront. Airlines will be required to display extra fees for checking bags and seating selection up front.

The new rules have varying start dates. You can find more details at the United States Department of Transportation link here. 

#5. Are Baby Rattlesnakes More Dangerous than Adults? I am seeing reports that many hikers now are seeing plenty of rattlesnakes on their springtime walks.“Q: Is it true that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adults?

A: “No, that is one of the many myths about rattlesnakes, says California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator Laura Patterson. The larger the rattlesnake, the more venom it will deliver when it strikes. Rattlesnakes are shy by nature and will only bite as a last resort when they perceive a serious threat to their lives. Typically, a rattlesnake’s first defensive strategy will be to move away from a perceived threat. If cornered or their escape route is cut off, they will seek cover if available. If the threat continues, they usually coil up and rattle as a warning, although some individual rattlesnakes don’t rattle.

“If the threat continues, they may strike. However, an estimated 25 to 50 percent of bites from rattlesnakes are dry, meaning they choose not to envenomate. It takes the average rattlesnake three weeks to replenish expended venom. Because their venom is intended for immobilizing prey, envenomating a threat they will not eat means they cannot eat for several days to weeks. This is why rattlesnakes do everything they can to avoid unnecessarily using their venom.

“Rattlesnakes can occur almost everywhere in California except alpine areas above tree lines on tall mountains. They can also swim. In most areas, peak rattlesnake activity occurs during spring and summer shortly after they emerge from winter dens.” Visit CDFW’s rattlesnake page for tips on rattlesnake safety.”

#6. Regional: S.F. Bay Area: Springtime Hikes in a New Bay Area Preserve.  Coyote Ridge. Excerpt from an article by Susan Alcorn. “Welcome to Máyyan ‘Ooyákma — Coyote Ridge.”  If you are seeking a hike in the Santa Clara Valley where you likely will find dozens of varieties of wildflowers in springtime, don’t miss seeing the lovely displays at ‘Mayyan ‘Ooyákma — Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve. This grassland area of more than 1,800 acres opened to the public just last August. In springtime, visitors will find colorful wildflower displays along the trails by signing up for a docent-led hike or going on their own with the required Butterfly Pass. The pass, guided tours, entry, and parking are free.

I was lucky enough to get the last ticket for one of the March 2024, Bay Checkerspot Trail tours. The ticket was for one car — visitors can bring as many people as they can safely fit in their car.

“Mayyan Waayi Overlook Trail starts from the parking lot. It travels 1,000 feet on a short spur leading to a loop at the end (like a lollipop). Its gentle grade (5% average) and firm, stabilized, decomposed granite surface make it partially accessible. It leads to a rise with two scenic viewpoints where serpentine (California’s State Rock), wildflowers during the season, and meadowlarks may be enjoyed. Visitors can also enjoy the shaded picnic area. No permits are required to visit.

“The other three trails, Serpentine, Tule Elk, and Bay Checkerspot, form a loop. When docents lead a hike through the entire 5.1-mile loop, they generally do so clockwise because it’s judged safer. It allows hikers to tackle the steeper Serpentine trail going uphill, then cross the ridgetop along the relatively gentle Tule Elk, and descend the hillside on the series of switchbacks down the moderate Bay Checkerspot.”

This is only a portion of my article. You can read the rest here. We went back to the preserve this week and did the whole loop—actually would differ from the advisory’s rating of difficulty. The three sections do vary, but none IMO are particularly difficult. If you do go, check if the trails/preserve is open, be prepared for hot days in summer, and hiking poles are helpful. 

#7. Bay Area Regional: ParkFest:  A celebration of 90 Years of East Bay Regional Parks. Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy music, performances, Drakes Brewery, Kids’ Zone, hands-on fun, nature exhibits and displays, food trucks, eco-friendly activities, and more. Lake Chabot Regional Park, 17600 Lake Chabot Rd, Castro Valley, CA 94546. ParkFest is free and accessible to all. A BARTable event, the Regional Parks Foundation is sponsoring free shuttle service to and from the Bay Fair BART station.

“Established in 1934, the East Bay Regional Park District is the largest park district in the nation, with 73 parks, 126,000 acres, and 55 miles of shoreline.

“ParkFest Performers: Grammy Award-Winning Alphabet Rockers, Anthony Ant of Oakadelic, Los Cenzontles, Black Cat Zydeco, White Crane Dragon and Lion Dance Association, the Berkeley High School Jazz Band, Prescott Circus, Asheba Caribbean Music, Silly Circus Show, magic and bubble shows, and more!”
Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA

Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo; Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, April 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #291 April 2024

Olive groves along the Camino Mozarabe, Spain

1. Camino: Great news! A place to store your backpack when going into the cathedral.
2. The end of an era – more from the Yellowstone Winterkeeper story.
3. Yay, i
t’s official! The Tahoe National Forest will be developing a 72-mile multi-use trail connecting Nevada City and Truckee, Calif.
Mountains on Stage — Program Summer 2024
5. Safety for Day Hikers
ALDHA-West Gathering
Regional: Nor Cal Pilgrims group
8. Notes from Susan

#1. Camino interest: Guy Joaquin, Co-coordinator of Northern California Camino Pilgrims, forwarded this important news about backpack storage when going into the cathedral in Santiago–and while visiting the city.

 “The main office of Correos (the Spanish postal service) in Santiago on Rúa do Franco, just a few minutes’ walk from the Cathedral, is now open 7 days a week. This is particularly good news as there is now a secure place every day to deposit backpacks before going into the Cathedral (they are no longer allowed in).”

Correos also extends the opening of the Santiago locker for pilgrims. The postal service will offer the storage of luggage at the main office in Santiago de Compostela, in Rúa do Franco, seven days a week, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.” (Europa Press/Friday, March 1, 2024, 3:54 p.m.)

#2. The end of an era? More from the Yellowstone Winterkeeper story. “With 50 years of solitude, Steven Fuller is a living legend in Yellowstone and an endangered 21st century icon. Story by Todd Wilkinson

If you missed my earlier story about Yellowstone’s Winterkeeper in last month’s newsletter, you can find it here. 

#3. A new trail in the making! It’s official! The Tahoe National Forest will be developing a 72-mile multi-use trail connecting Nevada City and Truckee, Calif. “Are you interested in hiking, biking or horseback riding? Tahoe National Forest’s Pines to Mines Trail will welcome equestrians, pedestrians, bicyclists and Class 1 e-bike users on the new 72-mile trail network. The trail’s development aims to increase national forest recreation access for multiple user groups and abilities while supporting local economic development. The trail will include approximately 50 miles of existing trail with 22 miles of new trail, planned to begin construction this year.  

#4. Mountains on Stage[Susan writes: A couple of years back, we attended one of the film-showings locally. It was inexpensive, not-crowded, and great fun–so check out this year’s programing. The festival was born in March 2013 and since then, the festival has been growing year after year, not only in France but also in Europe and the U.S.

Film selections: 
#1. DEEPFREEZE : Themes: mountaineering, winter, Grandes Jorasses.
Athletes: Charles Dubouloz, Symon Welfringer and Clovis Paulin
#2. SEA TO SUMMIT : Themes: big wall, kayak, Greenland.
Athletes: Jacob Cook, Bronwyn Hodgins, Angela Vanwiemeersch, Kelsey Watts and Zack Goldberg-Poch
#3. FOND OF FONT : Themes: bouldering, 100 7A sequence, Fontainebleau.
Athletes: Seb Berthe and Hugo Parmentier
#4. SUBTERRANEAN : Themes: caving, cave systems, Canada. Athletes: Franck Tuot and his team.
TOUR DATES in the U.S. 

5, Safety for Day Hikers. Susan writes: It seems so-o-o-easy, you and your friends drive to a regional park and set out to walk a couple of miles looking for the newly popping wildflowers. Though it’s after work and late in the day, the days are getting longer, so no problem! Afterwards, you plan to return to your car, and perhaps stop for a beer and snacks during Happy Hour before heading home. But then, just about the time your group decides to turn around and head back, one of your party twists an ankle. Even though you are not far from town, a nearby hill blocks cell reception. The beautiful sunset you were all enjoying moments earlier, is slowly fading….

None of us wants or expects an emergency, but they happen. The 10 Essentials are not just for multi-day backpacking trips, they are also important for day hikers. Bring the 10 Essentials and save everyone in your party some grief.
1. Navigation
2. Headlamp
3. Sun Protection
4. First aid
5. Knife
6. Fire (matches/lighter)
7. Shelter
8. Extra Food
9. Extra water
10.Extra Clothes
(Thank you for providing us the list, Jack Haskel: PCT Communicator, Spring 2023.)

#6. The ALDHA-West Gathering: 
ALDHA-West (American Long Distance Hiking Association West). “Save the date for the ALDHA-West Gathering! September 27-29 at Camp Augusta, in Nevada City, CA. Highlights include the Triple Crown Award Ceremony, the Martin Papendick Award for “Trail Angel of the Year”, invited VIP speakers, Hiker Olympics, our legendary GEAR RAFFLE, and plenty of social time with your hiking community. Meals included! Registration will be coming soon. Join us! “

#7. Regional: Nor Cal Pilgrims group’s upcoming events. Find the details on Facebook as they are posted.
April 6. Lake Merritt Walk (Oakland). First Saturday every month.
April 14-May 5. Basic Spanish for the Camino (online)
April 20, Lake Cabot Hike (Castro Valley_)
April 14. Francigena (online)
April 27. Sugarloaf/Bald Mtn. Hike (Kenwood)
May 4. Lake Merritt Walk (Oakland)
May 18. Crosstown Trail Hike (S.F.)

#8. Note from Susan: Where we are enjoying spring. Ralph and I are thoroughly enjoying the local hikes that we have been having. Since we have both been fighting colds, we have been hiking on our own, but thoroughly enjoying trails on Mt. Diablo (Contra Costa County), Jepson Preserve near Suisun City/Dixon (Sonoma County); Morgan Territory (Alameda County). Prior to the wicked colds, we were able to join a guided hike at a brand-new park—the Máyyan ´Ooyákma (Coyote Ridge) (Santa Clara County), and to watch the spectacular elephant seal colony at Drake’s Beach (Marin County). 

Once back in circulation (shortly!), we hope to continue on with our circumnavigation of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. “The Bay Area Ridge Trail is a planned 550-mile multi-use trail along the hill and mountain ridgelines surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area, in Northern California. Currently, 400+ miles have been established. We, with our friends Patricia Schaffarczyk and Tom Coroneos, have hiked a bit more than 300+ miles of the trail so far.

The next big event on the Ridge Trail is the Ridge to Bridge on Saturday, April 13. Participants can choose between: a 6 Mile, 13 Mile, or 18 Mile Hike; 20 Mile Bike Ride; and an 8 Mile Equestrian Ride .

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA

Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo; Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, March 2024

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, March 2024
Walking on air or water is nothing as miraculous as walking on earth. 

-Thich Nhat Hanh

1. How long does it take to get fit again?
2. Yellowstone’s “winterkeeper”

3. Should I use insoles with hiking shoes?
4. Accommodations on the Camino Frances
5. Regional: San Francisco Bay Area. Guided Hikes at Máyyan ‘Ooyákma!
6. Nor Cal Camino Chapter’s celebration March 16

#1.How Long Does It Take to Get Fit Again? “Use it or lose it.” Most of us have experienced losing fitness to our cardiovascular health or muscle strength, or both, when not exercising for a period of time. Here are some findings on how fast we might lose it and how to get back in shape–excerpts from The New York Times article, by Knvul Sheikh.  Link here.  
a. Cardiovascular health declines more rapidly than muscle strength. About eight weeks out is the point when muscle strength begins to decline. But, decline is affected by age as well as many other factors. Studies show that older adults lose fitness at nearly twice the rate of 20- to 30-year-olds.

b. “You can regain approximately one-half of your fitness in 10 to 14 days with moderately hard workouts,” said Dr. Edward Coyle, professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin.
c.  However, one study found that older adults, after a 12-week break, needed up to eight weeks of retraining. 
d. Hikers, when trying to get back into shape, can start retraining by walking, then jogging, then running. Many trainers suggest increasing your workouts by a bit less than 10% per week, but listen to your own body.
e. Suggestions for those who can’t get to the gym or trail for an extended period—use the stairs, do short interval workouts, use weights.

 Yellowstone, Fall 2023. Photo by Susan Alcorn

 #2.Yellowstone’s “Winterkeeper”. “Steven Fuller is a winter caretaker who has lived and worked at Yellowstone National Park for the last 50 years.” From the
George Mattson, a family friend, recently sent us the following link that takes us through the decades that Fuller has worked in the park. Mattson himself spent his early years with his family in Yellowstone National Park . Being there year round, he also experienced long Yellowstone winters. Enjoy the 12-1/2 minute video from The here.  

Yellowstone, Fall 2023, Photo by Susan Alcorn

#3. Should I use insoles with hiking shoes? Treeline Review gives suggestions and recommendations for using insoles. Click here for their report.  Susan adds: Because my hiking shoes (Altra) have minimal cushioning and I often walk on paved trails (rather than dirt, which has far less impact on feet), I wear Spenco Rx Comfort Thin Lightweight Cushioning Orthotic Shoe Insole. They are long-lasting and do not absorb water (the last thing you want is your insoles becoming sponges!) And, because I have had plantar fasciitis and prefer not to suffer from it again, I also replace my shoes’ original insoles and wear  orthotics for their greater support.

#4. Camino interest: Where to stay along the Camino Frances (the most popular of the pilgrim routes to Santiago). From Michael Matynka at Wise Pilgrim is this up-dated list of accommodations on the Camino Frances. Link here

#5. Regional: San Francisco Bay Area. Guided and Unguided Hikes at Máyyan ‘Ooyákma! Information from Open Space Authority.
This is a brand-new park. “Máyyan ‘Ooyákma (pronounced My-yahn Oiy-yahkmah) directly translates to Coyote Ridge in the Chochenyo language. Chochenyo is the language stewarded by the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, whose members trace their ancestry to the Indigenous Peoples, or aboriginal inhabitants, of this region. The Open Space Authority is partnering with the Muwekma Ohlone to raise awareness about the importance of the protection of irreplaceable landscapes.”

Máyyan ‘Ooyákma – Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve is 1,859 acres and connects over 1 million acres of important habitat in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Diablo Range. It has five miles of trail, some of which was carefully constructed by hand in order to protect the fragile habitat. Three miles of it is designated as a portion of Bay Area Ridge Trail, a regional trail system that will someday stretch more than 550 miles along the ridge lines that encircle San Francisco Bay. The park is approximately 20 miles from downtown San Jose.

Visitors are required to carry a free “Butterfly Pass” for hiking, biking, or horseback riding on the trails located inside the Habitat Protection Area. The three trails in the Habitat Protection Area are the Serpentine Spring Trail, Tule Elk Trail, and Bay Checkerspot Trail. This is because the “unique landscape is a biodiversity hotspot for endangered plants and animals” – including the rare Mount Hamilton thistle, Western burrowing owls, the Federally protected Checkerspot butterfly and the rare serpentine grasslands.  

Spring is prime time to see the grasslands dazzling with California poppies, lupine, mariposa lilies, goldfield, tidy tips, and more. In the fall, visitors are likely to hear the male tule elk bugling during the mating season.

The preserve is temporarily closed due to the large amount of recent rain. Check the chart, link here, to see visiting days and hours. Reservations are required for guided tours to see the protected areas. The hiking trails do not require reservations.  Map and schedule for open times, click here.

Address9611 Malech Rd, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. Directions: From Hwy 101 or Hwy 85.  East on Bailey Avenue, Continue on to Malech Road.  Free public parking area on the right. No pets allowed. Phone: (408) 224-7476

#6. Regional: Northern California Camino Chapter’s Celebration March 16. Guy Joaquin, group co-cordinator, recently posted information about  the group’s upcoming Shell Ceremony & Potluck. Saturday, March 16, 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM in Oakland, CA.
“Help us celebrate our pilgrims heading out to the Camino this year at our annual Shell Ceremony & Potluck. We’ll be gathering at St. Augustine Church in Oakland with special guests to confer scallop shells (symbol of the pilgrimage) to outbound pilgrims as well as recognize departing volunteer hospitaleros. Please click the link below for the full announcement and to register for this event.


Lunch at an early Nor Cal Pilgrim fall gathering (2009). It has grown!

Schedule: Doors open at 9:30 AM. After the shell ceremony, we’ll have lunch then our breakout session. We plan to finish up by 3:30 PM. We always need help with cleaning up afterwards. All are welcome to attend.

Getting There: By Car: Use Google Maps or your favorite map app for directions. St. Augustine is located at 400 Alcatraz Avenue off of College Avenue in Oakland. The church is on the right side between Dana and Colby Streets when heading west towards the bay and the parking lot entrance is on the left side of the building. Meet us on the bottom floor of the gym/multi-use building across the courtyard on the right side of the church (follow our yellow arrows).

By BART/Bus/Foot: From Rockridge BART, take AC Transit bus 51B towards the Berkeley campus and offboard at College/Alcatraz (15 min). Walk west on Alcatraz to St. Augustine (0.3 mi). To walk from the station, head north along College towards campus and turn left on Alcatraz (0.7 mi).

Carpooling: Registered participants will have access to an online “Carpool Bulletin Board” to post a message if they need a ride or can give one.

What to Bring: Your favorite dish or drink to share. Extra points for something from the Camino. Wine counts, too! Here’s a request to cover our bases: If your last name begins with H-Z, bring a food dish (main, side, salad with serving utensils). If it begins with A-G, bring a dessert or beverage (coffee will be provided). We’ll have 3×5 index cards on hand to make a label for your dish.

Be Green! We encourage you to bring your own plates, cups and utensils to help us to minimize trash and reduce costs on disposable items. There is a kitchen to wash items after use.

El Rastro: El Rastro is a gigantic flea market in Madrid. Bring your excess gear, memorabilia, guidebooks and other good “junk” you thought you needed, but don’t anymore. There will be an area to display your items. This will be a “cash-free” zone. Bring it and forget it! See something you want? Take it.

Camino Market: We invite Camino authors, artists, creatives, and other vendors to display and sell your wares. There will be a table set aside for your use. Note: American Pilgrims does not endorse any of the products. We are solely providing a space to connect sellers and buyers.

Contributions: Please help us cover our event expenses (room, supplies) with a cash contribution to our donativo box at the check-in table. Your generosity allows us to devote more resources to our mission that includes supporting the Camino infrastructure through our Grants program.

Advance online registration is required. Click the Register Now button below to sign up by Friday, March 15.

Cancellation: If you are unable to attend, please email us at so we can update our list.”

Register Now

Visit the Northern California Chapter page
Join the Northern California Camino Pilgrims Facebook group
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Thank you everyone. Stay well, keep hiking when prudent. I encourage you to send in items of interest to the hiking community to me at backpack45 “at sign”

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA

Author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo; Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine; We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers; and Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

Please note: Hiking and backpacking can be risky endeavors. Always be prepared for emergencies and carry food, water, shelter (warm clothing, etc.), flashlight/headlamp, matches, first aid supplies, and maps. Cell phones don’t always work. Leave word where you are traveling and when you are due back.