Book Talk and Walk in Sonoma

April 10, 2022. Bay Area Book talk and walk. 
Please join us for a reading and discussion about my newest book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails at Readers’ Books in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, April 10, 2022. 10:30 for the talk and reading; 3-mile hike to follow (the hike is optional, of course). Event is free and open to all. 

Joining me will be four of the women from the book:  Inga Aksamit, Patricia Schaffarczyk, Jane Toro, and Karen Najarian. They will read a bit from their chapters, perhaps talk about their previous or upcoming hikes. I can guarantee that they will be inspiring!

A hike will follow—but note: trail changes!!! We are going to lead a hike, but due to trail restoration, we have had to change from going to the overlook (top) of Overlook Trail. We still plan to lead an easy uphill hike, but though it will start on the Overlook Trail, it will continue onto another trail (also offering great views). I plan to scout the alternate route out this week—it will be a fun walk for all of us.

Click here for trail info to find the parking lot for the HIKE, and the beginning of the Overlook Trail. I’m sure than some hikers will be fine without hiking poles, but expect some roots and rocks, so bring a pole if you’ll feel safer.  
Readers’ Books is at 130 E Napa St., Sonoma (and right off the main square).

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, April 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #272, April 2022

Hi all,
We are glad to be back, but we also just had a great trip mid-February to mid-March. We spent three weeks in Baja California: enjoying the countryside, the people, and a dream of mine coming true—going out on the pangas (small boats) at Scammon’s Lagoon and San Ignacio and getting to pet the Gray Whales. A thrilling and wonderful time—and done the way we generally prefer—as a road trip!

The photo here is from our latest overnight backpack trip, which was to Rose Peak in Alameda County, CA. This is our peak #89 of the Nifty Ninety Peak Challenge; we plan to hit #90 the end of April!

Contents:
1. Regional: Sunday, April 10 in Sonoma CA: Bay Area book talk with short and sweet walk following

2. Eagerly awaiting: Adventures Awaiting
3. Condor Trail through Los Padres Ntl Forest
4. Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail — new trail guide

5. Diane Spicer has this to share
6. “Lagniappe” (a little something extra) “Bug Healing”
7. Regional: Bay Area Ridge to Bridge Event

Articles:
#1. Regional: Susan’s Bay Area book talk and walk.
 
Please join us for a reading and discussion about my newest book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails at Readers’ Books in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, April 10, 2022. 10:30 for the talk and reading; 3-mile hike to follow (the hike is optional, of course). Event is free and open to all. 

Joining me will be four of the women from the book:  Inga Aksamit, Patricia Schaffarczyk, Jane Toro, and Karen Najarian. They will read a bit from their chapters, perhaps talk about their previous or upcoming hikes. I can guarantee that they will be inspiring!

A hike will follow—but note: trail changes!!! We are going to lead a hike, but due to trail restoration, we have had to change from going to the overlook (top) of Overlook Trail. We still plan to lead an easy uphill hike, but though it will start on the Overlook Trail, it will continue onto another trail (also offering great views). I plan to scout the alternate route out this week—it will be a fun walk for all of us.

Click here for trail info to find the parking lot for the HIKE, and the beginning of the Overlook Trail. I’m sure than some hikers will be fine without hiking poles, but expect some roots and rocks, so bring a pole if you’ll feel safer.  
Readers’ Books is at 130 E Napa St., Sonoma (and right off the main square).

#2. Eagerly awaiting: Adventures Awaiting. 
Who better to teach about long distance hiking than those who have done it—multiple times, multiple places—than co-authors Heather Anderson, aka Anish, and Katie Gerber, aka Salty.

Heather earned the Triple Crown of Thru-Hiking (USA) and set the fastest known time for this in 11/08/2017.  Katie has completed many long distance hikes on the  the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, Continental Divide, Colorado, and Oregon Desert trails, and the Wind River High Route  and is a nutritionist.

Pre-order Adventures Awaiting at Heather’s website, wordsfromthewild.net Orders from that site will be autographed by Heather.

Learn:  “(How) to prepare your body and mind for the rigors of long-distance backpacking and other epic adventures,” as well as “everything an aspiring backcountry athlete needs to know for planning their first thru-hike!”

Katie focuses on food so that you can be healthy when you complete your hike rather than nutritionally depleted.

“Additionally, we dedicate an entire segment of the book to the mental and emotional preparation, maintenance, and reintegration phase of the journey. It’s commonly estimated that 75 to 85 percent of aspiring thru-hikers on the Triple Crown trails quit before reaching their goal. That’s a staggering number. So, what’s the difference between those who get to the opposite terminus and those who don’t? It’s generally not athletic ability. People of all different demographics and athletic abilities successfully complete long-distance trails.

“Backpacking is not a particularly technical sport, though it does require you to learn a particular set of skills. The primary physical component involves walking over natural surfaces with a load on your back. And though good physical fitness reduces the likelihood of injury and can make the experience more enjoyable, a backpacker always has the option to slow down or reduce mileage to ease the physical demand. The challenges unique to a multi-month backpacking trip are exposing yourself to the elements day after day and continuing to move forward when you’re tired of sleeping on a thin foam pad, sick of eating dehydrated foods, and missing your family and friends.

“Thru-hiking success comes down to the ability to endure when things get hard. There are certainly legitimate circumstances that force hikers off trail, like illness, injury, and finances, but many quit because the going gets difficult and they don’t have a strong reason for being out there. There still physically capable, but mentally they’re over it.” Excerpted from Adventure Ready page 161

Pre-Order Your Autographed Copy Now! https://wordsfromthewild.net/ Order your copy today and receive a discount on the companion online courses!”

#3. Condor Trail Guide: Hiker’s Guide to the 400 Mile Condor Trail Through Los Padres National Forest in California (2021) Paperback and Kindle by Brian Sarvis (Author), Bryan Conant (Contributor). Find it here

Writer Miles Griffis writes, Is California Condor Trail the Next Great Thru Hike?  Griffis tracks the trail’s origins and development—a dream to create a route that with the highlights of Los Padres National Forest (north of Los Angeles)— from the towering peaks of the Sespe Wilderness to the dense redwood stands of Big Sur—all home to the state’s iconic endangered species, the California condor. 

“…the Condor Trail is a distance hiking route that travels coastal mountain ranges and canyons deep in the backcountry of California’s central coast.” “… some areas that will test a hiker’s pathfinding ability.”

“Unlike the well-established John Muir or Pacific Crest Trails, it lacks proper signage and maintenance. But it’s loaded with sights… “…past colonies of elephant seals, and across the ancestral lands of the Chumash, Salinan, Esselen, Tataviam, and Costanoan peoples…”

Photo by Susan Alcorn

#4. “Hiking the Oregon Coast Trail
by Bonnie Henderson, published by Mountaineers Books, is the first guidebook to fully cover the 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail. “From vast beaches and lush forests to windswept bluffs and dramatic sea stacks, the stunning wild coast of Oregon is emerging as the next great long-distance hiking experience.” 

“The OCT includes 200-plus miles of publicly accessible beaches, as well as established trails through city, county, and state parks and national forest lands. “…detailed descriptions of 34 route legs with mileage, maps, resupply options, itineraries, hazards, camping or lodging options, and more.” “…even worth-while side trips.” 

You’ll also find a good overview of the trail—the good and the bad—at Treeline ReviewClick here.

#5. Diane Spicer’s newsletter includes a trekking pole article. 
There is always a lot of interesting and varied hiking information in Diane’s monthly newsletter. I was particularly interested in this article, “Are Trekking Poles Helping or Hindering Your Hiking Experience?” Ashley L. Hawke, MS; Randall L. Jensen, PhD. (REVIEW ARTICLE| VOLUME 31, ISSUE 4, P482-488, DECEMBER 01, 2020.) Click here to read

You can find out more about Diane at her website, and from Walk, Hike, Saunter, where she wrote about her hiking experiences in her own chapter.

#6. A little something extra: Chimpanzees Appear to Use Insects to Treat Their Wounds.
In a first, chimps in Gabon were seen applying insects to sores on themselves—and others, a possible show of empathy. Fascinatingarticle by Corryn Wetzel, Daily Correspondent, in Smithsonian Magazine.

The multiple observations were seen in Gabon—involving adult chimps catching flying insects (which might have antiseptic features), smashing the bugs in their mouth, creating a paste, and then applying it to not only their own children or other relatives, but also other members of their group. February 8, 2022 article click here. 

#7. Regional: San Francisco Bay Area: Register now for Ridge to Bridge 2022!
Registration is officially open for the Ridge Trail’s most exciting signature annual event, Ridge to Bridge 2022! Ridge to Bridge is a trail adventure for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians with two ways to participate this year: At an in-person supported event on April 30th in the Marin Headlands or with the self-guided version, ongoing March 1st — April 30th.

In-Person Adventure: April 30th: “Join us for a beautiful springtime trail outing through the iconic Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) including Fort Baker, the Marin Headlands, and Muir Beach. We will support your selected route with trail maps and tips, signature swag, resting points with snacks, and a trail-side catered lunch in Tennessee Valley to keep you energized!”

“Self-Guided Adventure: March 1st – April 30th. Ridge to Bridge 2022 also offers a self-guided adventure for runners, hikers, bikers, and equestrians with curated trail options in each Bay Area county with multiple distances to choose from. Complete trail outings on your own schedule and at your own pace.  Details can be found at RidgeTrail.com

~~~~~~~~~
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” yahoo.com

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
https://www.susandalcorn.com
https://www.backpack45.com

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, February 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #271, February 2022

Contents:
1. Yosemite news: volunteering, jobs, and activities
2. Hospitalero Training
3. Gossamer Gear’s blog
4. Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics for the Camino de Santiago
5. What you should know about Banana Slugs
6. Regional: Susan’s Bay Area book talk with walk following

Articles:
#1. Items from the Yosemite Conservancy Newsletter of January 2022. If you are heading for Yosemite in the next few months, check current road conditions and tire chain restrictions by calling (209) 372-0200 (press 1, then 1).

“In other news, we’re hiring a Staff Accountant (based in San Francisco), an Outdoor Programs Coordinator (based in Yosemite), and a Marketing Coordinator (location flexible). Know someone who’d be a good fit for our team? Click here to apply

In addition “Volunteer in Yosemite in 2022: Enjoy a week in the park while completing physical restoration projects including trail repairs, habitat rehabilitation, and more by joining a Work Week Crew. Spend a month sharing your Yosemite knowledge to help visitors navigate and enjoy the park as a Visitor Information Assistant. Apply Now. Click here for volunteering.

Yosemite Conservancy has many custom adventures and virtual adventures. Here are their “upcoming winter adventures in the park. February 12: Winter Hike in Mariposa Grove; February 15: Full Moon Snowshoe Hike #2; February 19: Winter Hike in Mariposa Grove.” These may be full, but there will be more during the year. info@yosemite.org and  www.yosemite.org

#2. Camino Hospitalero Training, March 29-31, 2022. Registration is open for the first Hospitalero Training session of 2022! This is right before the Annual Gathering of Pilgrims as mentioned in my January newsletter (March 31, 2022 – April 4, 2022). The training session will be held at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC (near Asheville).

Schedule: Check-in: 4:00 PM on Tuesday, March 29, 2022—Training complete: 5:00 PM on Thursday, March 31, 2022. “You must attend the entire training session to be certified!  Make your travel plans accordingly! If you plan to attend the Gathering there is a separate registration. Follow this link for Gathering information.

“Checklist: Do you want to learn what it takes to become a hospitalero supporting other pilgrims on the road to Santiago? To attend you must: Have walked at least 100 km or biked at least 200 km of the Camino. Have stayed in at least 3 non-private albergues. Be a current member of American Pilgrims on the Camino. Be at least 18 years old by March 28, 2022. Provide proof of COVID vaccination plus the Booster. Note: all attendees are required to wear masks during the training.”

Click here. to register for Hospitalero Training or questions to: hospitalerotraining@americanpilgrims.org

#3. Short film on the incredible hiker, Anish—and more from Gossamergear.com A wealth of articles in Gossamer Gear’s blog: This month, I particularly enjoyed  the new film on Heather Anderson’s (aka Anish) Thru-Hiking FKT Journey AND Korrin Bishop’s “7 Tips to Quiet Your Mind While Hiking or Backpacking.”  https://www.gossamergear.com/blogs/our-blog

#4. Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics for the Camino de Santiago. Important reading for Camino-bound travelers. https://lnt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Leave-No-Trace-Camino-Version_FINAL_2020.pdf

#5. What you should know about Banana Slugs. I have to admit that banana slugs are not my favorite critter, but they are interesting. So, did you know that they are soft-bodied creatures without a backbone and are mollusks related to snails and sea slugs? They are gastropods. You probably haven’t one seen a nose sticking out—that’s because it breathes through what is called a pneumostome, a breathing hole on its side leading to its one lung.

They are native to North America and they generally can be found in habitats offering shaded and damp conditions. They travel on the trail of slime they produce; the slime protects their body and discourages predators because the slime tastes bitter and can make one’s tongue feel numb for a moment.  

At the front, they have two sets of tentacles: the upper set is sensitive to light; the lower set is for smelling and feeling. It used to be that teachers and others would encourage students and other visitors to parks to kiss a slug, but this is no longer recommended because the slime can carry parasitic worms and mites, plus lotions humans might have on their hands can be harmful to the slugs. More info in Bay Nature Magazine.  Click here to read

#6. Regional: Susan’s Bay Area book talk and walk. Save the date (and confirm closer on because we all know dates for events sometimes change), but currently we are scheduled to give a book event in Sonoma, CA on Sunday, April 10, 2022. 10:30 for the talk and reading; 3-mile hike to follow.

Details are developing, but what I am hoping for are a couple of the women from Walk, Hike Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trail to join in and read from their chapters OR talk about their upcoming hikes. I can guarantee that they will be inspiring!

Following the talk, we plan to lead a gentle hike to an overlook in a local open space with a terrific view of not only Sonoma, but also south to San Francisco and more. Readers’ Books is at 130 E Napa St., Sonoma (and right off the main square). Click here for trail info. We scouted out the trail recently and found that it can be done without hiking poles, but there are some roots and rocks, so bring a pole if you’ll feel safer. 
~~~~~~~~~
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” yahoo.com

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
https://www.susandalcorn.com
https://www.backpack45.com

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, December 2021

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, #269 December 2021

Hi everyone,
Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Sorry if you’ve gotten any extra emails about our newsletters. It’s because of our change to wordpress for sending out the newsletter through my website www.susandalcorn.com We have a few more things to learn!

Contents:
#1. Three Books I Highly Recommend:
#2. “Footprints the People”— Barbara Anderson’s humorous podcast on hiking
#3. At 83, ‘Nimblewill Nomad’ Sets Record on the Appalachian Trail
#4. Camino: Train schedule (new service) Madrid to Galicia. 
#5. Andrew Skurka: Have fun while learning about backpacking from an expert
#6. Camino news: Yikes! Part of the arch at San Anton fell on a school bus
#7. The youngest calendar year triple crowners!
Regional San Francisco Bay Area:
#8.New Year’s Day Sonoma County Hike
#9. Bay Area Ridge Trail: Peninsula. Skyline College to Mussel Beach.
#10: Reminder: King Tides on coastal areas

Articles:
#1. A. Three books I can recommend: First is my Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Hikers Share Tales and Trails, which would be perfect for anyone who enjoys an inspiring, interesting, and entertaining book full of stories of adventuresome women. All of the 32 women are 45 or older—some have been “firsts” in the hiking world, all are excellent role models that have much to offer newer hikers. Link here

Heather Anderson’s latest newsletter announced that she has now received the 4th printing of her book, Thirst: 2600 miles to home. She also is offering a course in January called, “FKT 101: Basics for Planning and Completing your First Fastest Known Time Course.” Link here

From her website, “National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Heather Anderson is the only woman who has completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails each three times. This includes her historic Calendar Year Triple Crown hike in 2018 when she hiked all three of those trails in one March-November season, making her the first female to do so.

“She also holds the overall self-supported Fastest Known Time (FKT) on the Pacific Crest Trail (2013)–hiking it in 60 days, 17 hours, 12 min, which broke the previous men’s record by four days….” “She also holds the female, self-supported FKT on the Appalachian Trail (2015) in a time of 54 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes, and the Arizona Trail (2016) which she completed in 19 days, 17 hours, 9 minutes.”

Yosemite Complete Hiking Guide by Elizabeth Wenk is out! This book includes every trail in the park and many in adjacent wilderness areas—more than 1,000 miles of trail. As with the previous edition, there is a detailed introduction to the park’s natural history, human history, and of course planning material, most of it entirely rewritten. In addition, there are new maps for every hike. There are lots of new geology and biology sidebars to enhance the trail descriptions. Link here.   (Thank you, Jaunting Jan for the news!).

#2. “Footprints the People” is an entertaining podcast with Barbara Anderson (contributor to Walk, Hike, Saunter). She writes, “thought you might enjoy or possibly laugh at my interview for a British podcast on Long Distance walking….. “Footprints The People Podcast Barbara Anderson ” GOOGLE if you cannot reach Spotify. Link here.

#3. 83 year-old ‘Nimblewill Nomad’ Sets Record on the Appalachian Trail. M.J. Eberhart, better known to hikers as Nimblewill Nomad, hiked into Dalton, Mass., on Sunday, November 7 to become the oldest known person to hike the roughly 2,190-mile trail miles of trail from Georgia to Maine. 

“Eighty percent of it is mental grit,” he said. “And that is why so many people fail.” He was celebrated by many at the finish line, including former record holder “Grey Beard,” (Dale Sanders, now 86) who had held the title since 2017. Grey Beard had driven up from his home in Tennessee to walk the final miles with Nimblewill Nomad

Nimblewill Nomad did the entire hike, in sections, in one year. He actually began hiking from his home in Alabama, which is further back—doing day hikes—until he reached Georgia to jump on the AT on March 1, 2021. He averaged about 10 miles a day. He had previously completed the AT twice—1998 and 2001-2. There’s more in an article by Christine Hauser in the New York Times. Link here. 

Earl Shaffer is the first known person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one, continuous journey, which he did in 1948.

#4. Camino interest: Train schedule (new service) Madrid to Galicia. Follow the link to the schedule. The labels at the top of each train schedule can be confusing, so here are their meanings:
LMXJ — means Monday through Friday
LMXJS — Monday through Saturday
LMXJD – Monday through Friday and Sunday
diario — daily
Link to credit 

#5. Andrew Skurka Adventures: “Our 2022 trip schedule is now available. April/May: Grand Staircase-Escalante in southern Utah; May: Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado; June/July: Gates of the Arctic National Park, Brooks Range, Alaska; July: High Sierra, California; September: Olympic National Park, Washington (new for 2022); October: West Virginia during peak fall colors.”

If you aren’t acquainted with Andrew Skurka, here’s info about him: “I’m an outdoor athlete, writer, and guide. In my twenties I hiked 30,000+ miles from sea to sea, around the West, and in Alaska. Since then I started a guide …” from his website at https://andrewskurka.com

Apply for a 2022 trip starting Monday, December 13, 2021 [places will fill fast]. 
Benefit from:
“Next-level instruction. We will help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the group and to undertake similar trips of your own in the future. The learning starts months before with our Plan Like A Pro course, and continues with an extensive field curriculum.
“Expert guides. We combine extensive first-hand backpacking experience with excellent people skills, relate-able family and work lives, and a passion for teaching and for our trip locations. It’s truly an all-star team.
“World-class locations. Our venues are among my all-time favorite spots, and we know where to find spectacular scenery, refreshing swimming holes, fascinating archeological sites, blissful off-trail travel, and secluded campsites.
“Cohesive groups. We painstakingly match applicants who have similar physical abilities and outdoor experience, and we try to give each group a balance of genders, ages, and other biographical details. Our groups frequently feel like “tramilies” and plan trips together afterwards.”

#6. Camino news: Yikes! Part of the arch at San Anton (on the Francés route) fell and landed on a school bus. Luckily no one was injured. Article here.  

#7. 21-Year-Olds, Sammy Potter and Jackson Parell, Just Became the Youngest Calendar-Year Triple Crowners. To make their way through the challenges of weather, they bounced around on the three trails — over 7,000 miles of hiking that covers the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. 

They started on January 1, 2021 on the Appalachian Trail’s southern end at Springer Mountain. In February the moved over to the Continental Divide in New Mexico; they moved over to do a section of the Pacific Crest Trail headed south from Kennedy Meadows. They finished their record-setting hike on October 22, 2021. There is more to the story, which you can read at link here

Flyin’ Brian Robinson was the first person to complete a Calendar-Year Triple Crown in 2001. And, as mentioned earlier, Heather “Anish” Anderson, was the first woman to do so.

Regional Bay Area:
#8. Jack London State Historic Park First Day Hike. The park, in California’s Sonoma Valley, kicks off the new year with Ninth Annual First Day Hike – January 1, 2022.  The trek can be either a personal challenge to make it to the park summit or the first step in a commitment to a healthier new year.  Either way, it is designed for all fitness levels with guides to help hikers return to the parking lot at any time. First Day Hikes are held throughout the country, supported by America’s State Parks, and at parks statewide with California State Parks.

The hike begins at 10 a.m. and will conclude at around 2:30 p.m. The roundtrip route is eight miles long and moderately strenuous. Participants will meet in the Ranch parking lot, to the right of the park’s entrance kiosk.  The hike will be cancelled in the event of rain.

Reservations are required https://jacklondonpark.com/events/ and can be made at First Day Hike 2022 | Jack London State Historic Park (jacklondonpark.com). Tickets are $10 per person, in addition to $10 per car entry fee (up to nine passengers).  (Thank you Laurie Armstrong Gossy for the news.) Photo: Jack London’s Wolf House.

#9. Bay Area Ridge Trail. While waiting for longer days to complete the Nifty Ninety Peak Challenge, we are enjoying doing sections of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Our most recent hike was on the S.F. Peninsula in Pacifica. What a delightful segment—from Skyline College to Mussel Beach. Short as most of the sections are, but from our start at the southern end of the walk, we went through the GGNRA Milagra Park, with displays with information about the former Nike Launch site that was there during the Cold War era of the 40s and 50s, and then onward along wonderfully well-groomed trails that took us to a spiral (related to a labyrinth) with outstanding views all along. Then down the hillside to walk along the cliffs above the ocean north to the end at the picturesque Mussel Rock. It’s about 4.5 miles, but we did a bit more to see the off-trail views. Easy, going north is downhill.

#10. REMINDER: King Tides near you? “A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is “pulled” back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Moon is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country.” National Ocean Service info. 

Here’s a Bay Area walk you can take with Berkeley Path Wanderers: “King Tides Walk: History and Rising Seas.” When: Sunday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. Leader: Susan Schwartz. Sea Breeze Market, 598 University Ave., Berkeley.

“During one of winter’s highest tides, enjoy a relaxed loop around Berkeley’s restored “meadow,” with short spurs. We will walk rain or shine. Dress in layers for quick-changing weather, and expect puddles, muddy or even flooded paths, and crossing a construction site. Sorry, no dogs allowed in part of the area we will cross.
+++
Thank you everyone; enjoy your holidays. 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” yahoo.com

Susan ‘backpack45’ Alcorn
Shepherd Canyon Books, Oakland, CA
https://www.susandalcorn.com
https://www.backpack45.com

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
Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago
We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers
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, #268 Nov. 2021

Hi everyone,
It’s good to be back in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving and all of the other fall events. There wasn’t an October issue of this newsletter because Ralph and I were in France completing the last section of the Chemin Vézelay pilgrimage route (plenty more about that below).

Contents:
#1. Susan’s book party/event for Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Hikers Share Tales and Trails—and some of the women featured!
#2. Opossums: How much do you know about this marsupial?
#3. Chemin de Vézelay (pilgrim route through France)
#4. Supporting American Pilgrims on the Camino
#5. Regional: Free admission to our National Parks for veterans and active military on Veterans’ Day and through the weekend, Nov. 11-14, 2021
#6. Regional: Sonoma County: Geyserville, Northern CA. — the Geyserville Tree Lighting and Tractor parade.
#7. Regional and widespread: King Tides will be happening soon.

Articles:
#1. Susan to host a book party/event: We’re going to feature my most recent book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Hikers Share Tales and Trails at Book Passage Corte Madera, CA on Nov. 13, 2 PM. And, some of the women whose stories are in the book will also be reading. We’ll be talking about some of our trail adventures, and encouraging other to enjoy some of the rewards (and challenges) of hiking and backpacking.

We would appreciate an RSVP if you are coming so we can have enough seating and goodies. To rsvp, follow this link: http://evite.me/t5GC9dWDjU

However, no registration required so come on by if you can. Free to celebrate with us and enjoy a bit of wine and munchies! (We will be inside for the book event, and outdoors for the snacking!). Book Passage, Corte Madera, is 51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 925-927-0960.
#2. Opossum or possum? Either is ok. Most English speakers call it possum, whereas most scientists refer to it as Opposum, or more technically the Virginia Opposum (Didelphis virginiana). Whichever term you prefer, it is found from southern Canada to northern Costa Rica, and is the only marsupial found north of Mexico. Its furless hands, short legs, and heavy body make it unsuited to snowy areas, but researchers have observing that it’s range is gradually expanding with climate change.

Marsupial? Yes, it has a pouch—at least the all female opossums do. And, the male Water Opossum, found in Central and South America, is the only living species where both females and males have pouches. The male water opossum uses its pouch to hold and protect its genitals during swimming.

But back to the Virginia Opossum—baby opossums are only about the size of a jelly bean when born. The “joeys” crawl to the pouch and attach themselves to one of the mother’s teats where they will stay for eight weeks. After they have matured, they climb to the mother’s back where they will spend another two months learning survival skills.

If you have seen one living near your home, it means you have supportive habitat: water within 10 square city blocks and food (dead animals, bugs, ticks, fruit, and vegetables). If you see them out and about, you are probably outdoors after dark, because Opossums are nocturnal. There probably are trees nearby because that’s their preferred home, but I have seen them living in thickly-covered vines growing on fences. Like our new-world monkeys, opossums have prehensile tails—they can hang by their tail and use their hands to hold onto branches and so forth. Their opposable thumbs help with this effort.
#3. Chemin de Vézelay: There are four major pilgrimage routes in France: from Paris, Vézelay, LePuy-en-Velay, and Arles to Santiago de Compostela. Ralph and I have now competed three: the Vézelay, the GR 65 from Geneva to LePuy-en-Velay continuing on from LePuy into Spain; and the GR653 Arles route into Spain. (We did the Frances route through Spain in 2001)

We did each of the French routes in sections. With Vézelay for example: Vézelay to Saint Amand Montrond; Saint Amand Montrond  to Limoges; Limoges to Bazas (near Bordeaux), and Bazas to St. Jean Pied du Port (in the foothills of the Pyrenees—a popular town for beginning the Frances route to Santiago de Compostela).

The charming village of Vézelay is in the north-central part of France. It is partially protected from attack by its hillside location and stone walls partially surrounding it. It entered into history in the 9th century, when it first hosted the relics of Saint Mary Magdalene. It became even better known when its 11th-century Romanesque Basilica of St Magdalene was constructed, and subsequently when the Third Crusade (1189–1192) aka “The Kings’ Crusade,” set out from there. It is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The historical route was “described by Aimery Picaud in his 12th century Pilgrim’s Guide. It was used by pilgrims coming from the north (Scandinavians) and the east (Poles, Germans) of Europe, and sometimes called also the Polish route. Its Latin name, the Via Lemovicensis derives from its crossing of the Limousin, and from the historical, religious and cultural importance of the city of Limoges.”

The route runs southwest from  Vézelay (in Burgundy),  There are two distinct branches, the Bourges and Nevers routes (the one we took), which meet in the village of Gargilesse.

The Bourges route “is slightly shorter and much flatter, with many large forests and cornfields, and so to some, more monotonous. Bourges Cathedral is well worth a visit and some say this city is more interesting than Nevers. The Nevers route, also passing through Saint-Amand-Montrond and La Châtre is 31.6 km longer than the Bourges route, unless the variant via Augy-sur-Aubois is chosen which halves the extra distance. The terrain is more undulating and varied, and Nevers has the shrine of Saint Bernadette Soubirous (of Lourdes) which is a pilgrimage centre in its own right.

“The route then continues across the foothills of the Limousin, the hills and valleys of the Périgord and the plains of Aquitaine and the Landes. It joins the two other routes (from Tours and le Puy-en-Velay) near Ostabat.”

It’s approximately 900 km from Vézelay to St Jean Pied-de-Port, and a total of 1700 km if you continue to Santiago. Although guidebooks may divide it into 36 stages, of 20 and 30 km, we generally did shorter walks depending upon the accommodations available.

The route is waymarked, but is slowly moving to change the markings from the earlier red and white or red and yellow, to the yellow and blue that you’ll see on the Frances.

The scenery is quite varied: hills, valley, forests, historic sites and monuments. It’s primarily small towns, many losing population as young adults move the larger cities for work. However,, there are also some beautiful cities—including Saint-Léonard, Limoges, and Périgueux.  The Limousin is a land of forests and springs, of extensive cattle and sheep-raising.

In the Gironde, you’ll come across vast vineyards with the grapes for Bergerac and Bordeaux wines. As you continue south, you’ll find plantation farms with pines interspersed with fields of corn and some sunflowers. In wilder forests you find more variety— including oaks and deciduous trees and rich understory plants. On the last one or two days approaching St. Jean, you’ll have a couple of steep climbs with extensive views of the Pyrenees ahead and the plains behind you.

Walking the Vézelay is a very different experience than walking the Frances. As the CSJ says in their write up, “It is a route for pilgrims who are looking for tranquility and a meditative environment.” Translated that means — except in the larger cities, on market days, or during festival, you will see very few people. Most days we didn’t see anyone on the trail.

We stayed in a variety of accommodations, but there was seldom any choice. A back bedroom, a pilgrim refuges, small or large hotels, chambres d’hôte (bed & breakfasts), or gîtes d’étape. “The route has simple but sufficient facilities, calling upon the rigour of the pilgrim’s commitment (whatever his deeper underlying motive), in the context of a relatively deserted rural environment sufficient to discourage the ‘tourist’, and to deter therefore all those who embark on the pilgrimage in a spirit which is not ‘serious’ (i.e. who want simply to ‘play at’ being a pilgrim).” Quotations from the Confraternity of St. James, based in London. 

 

Guidebooks: The Dutch Pilgrim Association has produced two guides in English (updates 2021) from Vézelay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port: one covers the variant via Nevers and the other of the variant via Bourges. These are available as books or free in PDF format, santiago.nl/english/vezelay-main-page. The main page will orient you, the “Tracks and Guides” section shows maps and trails in detail. (Both the Nevers and the Bourges books are available from their online shop.)

We also used the Miam Miam Dodo: Voie de Vézelay (2019), which is available from the Confraternity of Saint James. It is in French, but easily understood by those of us who are not fluent in that language!

#4. Supporting American Pilgrims on the Camino. APOC is just what it sounds like, an organization primarily for those of us in the U.S. who want information about the Camino and to support the infrastructure of the Camino with grants for various projects undertaken by various non-profit albergues, etc. Membership includes a subscription to the quarterly publication of La Concha. There is also a Facebook group for meeting with new and experienced pilgrims. www.americanpilgrims.org

It is also a place to find a local chapter near you. Activities vary, but may include getting together for coffee, a potluck, or a hike. Our Peregrinos — Northern California chapter not only has walks and hikes, but also has informative meetings about such topics as how to get ready for a Camino walk to how to reenter the “real world” after your pilgrimage.

#5. Veterans, active military, and Gold Star Families: Free admission to  U.S. National Parks for veterans and active military on Veterans Day and through the weekend, Nov. 11-14, 2021.  https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/veterans-and-gold-star-families-free-access.htm

I recently visited Jack London State Park and can vouch for its attractions–beautiful views, historic buildings, and hiking trails. They are eager to welcome visitors. They write, “In recognition of their service to the United States, Jack London State Historic Park [in Glen Ellen, CA] will provide free admission to all active-duty military and veterans on Veterans Day and through the following weekend…” “An active duty or retired military identification or form DD214 can be presented at the entry kiosk to receive the free admission. Admission, regularly priced at $10, covers one vehicle of guests (up to nine people) for the day.  Park hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily”

“Blending the fascinating history of one of America’s most prolific and successful writers with the serenity of nature, Jack London State Historic Park offers more than 29 miles of back-country trails that roam through mixed forests, redwood groves, oak woodlands, and grassy meadows in Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon.  Learn more about the park at https://jacklondonpark.com/

 #6. Regional: Geyserville Tree Lighting and Tractor parade. Saturday, November 27, 2021 – 4:30pm-8:00pm.Downtown along Geyserville Avenue, Geyserville, CA, 95441 (Sonoma County/Nor. CA).  Geyserville Chamber of Commerce https://geyservillechamber.com/
Local:  707-276-6067. email: geyservillechamberofcommerce@gmail.com
Combine a hike in the area and then watch the festivities. Saturday, November 27, 2021 – 4:30pm-8:00pm.

#7. King Tides near you? “A King Tide is a non-scientific term people often use to describe exceptionally high tides. Tides are long-period waves that roll around the planet as the ocean is “pulled” back and forth by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun as these bodies interact with the Earth in their monthly and yearly orbits. Higher than normal tides typically occur during a new or full moon and when the Moon is at its perigee, or during specific seasons around the country.” National Ocean Service https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/kingtide.html

Here’s a related Bay Area walk you can take with Berkeley Path Wanderers: “King Tides Walk: History and Rising Seas.” When: Sunday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m. Leader: Susan Schwartz. Sea Breeze Market, 598 University Ave., Berkeley. Click here for info.

“During one of winter’s highest tides, enjoy a relaxed loop around Berkeley’s restored “meadow,” with short spurs. We will walk rain or shine. Dress in layers for quick-changing weather, and expect puddles, muddy or even flooded paths, and crossing a construction site. Sorry, no dogs allowed in part of the area we will cross.”
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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” yahoo.com

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

https://susandalcorn.com
https://www.backpack45.com

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.

To subscribe, unsubscribe, or send a message to this (almost) monthly newsletter, please email Susan at backpack45 “at sign” yahoo.com