Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, May 2023

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tale& Tips, #282, May 2023

1.Camino: A bit of humor: How to answer Pilgrim questions
2.Book Recommendation
3.Camino and the Hospitalero Training
4.Camino: What to see in Santiago and more
5.Hiker Mary Davison (81), the American Discovery Trail, and her books
6.Who Was Peace Pilgrim?
7. ALDHA-West Gathering
8. Camino and general travel: Weather contrasts
9.Camino: OK to ask for a “Doggie Bags?”

#1. Ivar’s Forum entry. Tongue in cheek. Not sure who did the original post, tongue-in-cheek advice to prospective pilgrims, but recently reposted by Wally.
“That elusive Camino feeling and thinking of walking again? Well, there’s good news! You can now achieve that same feeling from the comfort of your very own home!!!!!!
Here’s how:
.Sleep in your sleeping bag in a different room of the house covered by a blanket the dog sleeps on with the worst pillow you have or better, with your fleecy stuffed with old clothes!
.Wash your clothes by hand in the basin using the same sliver of soap you showered with!
.Sit outside your front gate for 4 hours, waiting for somebody to unlock the house!
.Ask your family to shine a torch [flashlight] in your eyes while you’re sleeping!
.Walk to the store and buy one bun, one slice of chorizo, one slice of cheese, and one banana!
.Order your food by pointing and sign language!
.Strike up conversations with strangers and pretend you’ve known them your whole life and tell them the reason you’re doing it!
.Ask them if they have comfortable shoes, or if they would have preferred boots! Then follow them around for 15 minutes!
.Go to a new restaurant and order you meal while holding the menu upside down and reading in the reflection of a mirror, in poor lighting!
.Wear all the clothing you can, then ask the neighbour to spray you soaking wet with the garden hose.
.Irritate your family by making loud tapping sounds with a spoon on a plate to emulate the sound of trekking poles!
.Drink 3 litres of water
.”Go” in the garden
.Pick fruit from your neighbour’s tree!
.Pop 3 painkillers with your glass of wine
.Take many photos of ridiculous arrow-like objects!
.Knock on the door of your neighbour 3 doors down and ask if they have baked any fresh bread
.Go to the post office and post some clothing back to yourself.
.Get dressed in the dark and put on some damp clothing!
.Go to the local pub and ask the barman to stamp your passport!

#2. Book Recommendation: Uncharted: A Culinary Adventure with 60 recipes from around the Globe. Author Jill Robinson on Facebook posted: “In early 2019, I got an assignment to write about a new TV show for National Geographic. After three seasons (so far) of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, we now have the Uncharted book—dropping today, April 25. I’m so thankful to Gordon, National Geographic, and everyone at Studio Ramsay for their kindness, support, and willingness to dangle wonderful assignments in front of my face.”

#3. Camino: Hospitalero Training. “There’s still time to register for our Hospitalero Training June 2-4, 2023! Hospitalero Training Team, American Pilgrims on the Camino <>
“Have you been thinking about taking our hospitalero training? Now’s your chance to be certified to serve…. Hospitaleros are the guardian angels of the Camino, caring for pilgrims along the Way. Without them, the pilgrimage to Santiago wouldn’t be the same.”
Do you want to learn what it takes to become a #hospitalero supporting other pilgrims on the road to #Santiago? Hospitaleros are the guardian angels of the #Camino, caring for pilgrims along the Way. Without them, the pilgrimage to Santiago wouldn’t be the same. If you’ve wondered what it’s like to be a hospitalero and how you could serve in this special way, it all begins with American Pilgrims’ hospitalero training.
To attend you must:
Have walked at least 100 km or biked at least 200 km of the Camino; Have stayed in at least 2 non-private albergues; b a current member of American Pilgrims on the Camino; be at least 18 years old by January 15, 2023; provide proof of COVID vaccination. Note: attendees may be required to wear masks during the training. Bring a surgical or KN95 mask with you (no bandanas or Buffs).
Training Schedule:
Check-in: 4:00 PM on Friday, June 2, 2023-4:00 PM on Sunday, June 4, 2023. Cost $295. Fee Waiver: American Pilgrims strives to make participation in our hospitalero training financially accessible. One registration fee waiver per session is available to a member who might not otherwise afford the training. Preference for the fee waiver is given to students and those willing to serve in one of the Spanish Federation albergues. Transportation to the training location is the responsibility of the attendee.
You must attend the entire training session to be certified!  Make your travel plans accordingly! Participation is limited to 20. A minimum of 15 participants is required to hold the training session.

Register now for Hospitalero Training at Mt. Gilead Camp & Conference Center, 439 East Rinker Road, Stroudsburg, PA 18360. Stroudsburg is one hour from both Allentown, PA (ABE) and Wilkes-Barre Scranton, PA (AVP), 90 minutes from Newark, NJ (EWR), and two hours from Philadelphia, PA (PHL). Questions? Email

#4. Talks about the Camino: Videos celebrating the pilgrimage. Secrets of Santiago with Lynn Talbot. Do you want to know more about Santiago de Compostela? Spend a day or two at the end of your pilgrimage and discover the hidden corners and unknown facts of the fascinating city of Santiago. Lynn Talbot on Youtube video:
Or, maybe you are a Camino veteran thinking about sharing the Camino with your child or grandchild, Andrew McCarthy’s discussion will interest you!

#5. Mary Davison—hiker and author: Putting a plug in for Mary Davison’s book, “Aren’t You Afraid?: American Discovery Trail from the Atlantic Ocean to Nebraska.  Paperback (September 11, 2020,” Mary (now 81) is staying with us now while she completes this section (S.F. Bay Area) of the ADT. Many messages in the book, but one (and the following is my interpretation) is that age needn’t be the determining factor of whether you hike or not, and that most strangers are kind and helpful people that can become friends.

Mary is quite amazing. She was one of the 32 women, all over 45, that I interviewed for my most recent book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails. She was just a spring chicken back then—only 79. She was 76 when she received her award for completing the Triple Crown of Hiking (PCT/ CD/ AT). See what we, and you, can do!!!

#6. Who Was Peace Pilgrim? “Peace Pilgrim’s Last Television Interview: 1981 Peace Pilgrim. #Peace Pilgrim touched the hearts, minds and lives of thousands during her more than 28 years of walking across North America with her simple but profound message of peace. In honor of National Women’s Month (Apr.), we are sharing what is believed to be her last television interview in 1981 on Fusion, a weekly show hosted by Dave Weissbard and produced by the Public Affairs Staff at WIFR-TV in Roxford, IL. Today, Peace Pilgrim’s words continue to inspire peace seekers around the world.” To learn more, visit

#7. ALDHA-West Gathering. Message posted by Scott Williams: “Hey all my long distance hiker friends, the American Long Distance Hiker Association- West’s yearly Gathering, is back on Mt Hood (OR) this year, which usually means a great carpooling of Bay Area folks for a night at McMenamins Edgefield on our way up, and a fabulous weekend of presentations and fun with the world’s greatest hiker/adventurers, and lots of time to catch up with friends. And of course the Triple Crown Awards! Save the date!”

Be sure to mark your calendars for the 2023 #ALDHA-West Gathering, September 15-17 in Mount Hood, OR! Watch your email and our social media for more information on this event and the opening of the Triple Crown application, coming soon! The gathering:

#8. Camino and general travel: Such contrast in the weather! First upinfo about an April Wildfire along the Hospitales route of the Camino Primitivo, Spain. Link here  which was posted by Guy Joaquin, our intrepid co-coordinator of the Nor Cal chapter of the American Pilgrims. The info was from the Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago – FICS. Guy adds, “For those who haven’t walked this (magnificent) Camino yet, the route splits after the village of Borres. The Hospitales route continues up into the mountains passing by the ruins of several pilgrim hostels. The other route descends to the town of Pola de Allande and then climbs back up to rendezvous with the Hospitales before Grandas de Salime.

“The Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago (FICS) coordinates the albergues in Nájera (Francés), Canfranc (Aragonés), and Grado (Primitivo) — examples of the donativo type of pilgrim accommodations that are hosted by volunteer hospitaleros. A couple of our members are off to volunteer in Canfranc soon and several others, me included, have volunteered in Grado!” Our thanks to Stef, from DONATIVO POLAGRINO, from Pola de Allande who has provided us with these photos.”

On the other hand, Andy Cohen, a member of the Nor Cal group who who is currently on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail in France (which itself is not a Camino route, but starts from beautiful city of Le Puy en Velay that is) reports that the temperatures there have been in the 40s Fahrenheit.

#9.  Camino: “Doggie Bags?” On FB forum wynrich said: “My husband and I are currently walking the Ruta Cantabrica, on our way to the Camino Ingles. We had a typical generous menu for lunch with way more food than we could eat. We’re staying in an Airbnb tonight that is not near any restaurant or grocery, so we knew we needed to bring food if we wanted to eat any dinner tonight. We thought about asking the waiter if he could bag up our leftovers but we weren’t sure if that is something that is done in Spain. We do it in the United States all the time but I have a feeling it might be different here. We ended up bagging up some of the leftovers ourselves but not sure about that either.
Among the helpful responses to Wynrich, was “It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for them to pack your leftovers. In fact, from January 1, restaurants & bars must offer this service (many already offered it before, but it was not compulsory). Just ask ‘para llevar’ and they’ll wrap it up for you.”

 Susan and Ralph Alcorn

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.

I’d be sad to see you go. But if you want to, you can unsubscribe from here:


Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, April 2023

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #281, April 2023

Poppies of Spain


1. Forest Service Seeks a PCT Volunteer & Communications Intern
2. Nancy Reynolds’ Camino podcasts

3. Spanish Style hot chocolate
4. PCT interest: Donna Saufley
5. Camino and what is the donativo?
6. Treeline Review—Best Women’s Trail Running Shoes of 2023
7. Regional S.F. Bay Area: POST with a quiz on amazing animal facts
8. Regional Santa Monica Mountains—the Backbone Mountains trail

#1. Forest Service Seeks a PCT Volunteer & Communications Intern. “Managing one of the world’s greatest long trails takes a lot of work—and a lot of collaboration—but it’s rewarding work! (There is a stipend paid). The USDA Forest Service has an open position for a full-time, one-year position as a Pacific Crest Trail Volunteer Services & Communications Intern. It’s an exciting opportunity to play a supporting role in many aspects of the PCT—and a great learning experience if you’re interested in pursuing a career in the outdoors and conservation. The position is 100% virtual, and begins June 11, 2023. Women, people of color, indigenous people, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, military veterans, and members of other historically disenfranchised groups are encouraged to apply. Learn more and apply here.” 

#2. Camino: Nancy Reynolds’ podcasts and more. I interviewed Nancy for Walk, Hike, Saunter: Tales and Trails from Seasoned Women Hikers in large part because I knew that she had a lot of important information to share with others preparing for a Camino hike; I had seen her excellent presentations on preparing for a Camino hike at REI.

You can benefit from her experience, knowledge, and support a couple of ways:
The Camino Podcasts: “You want to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain but where do you start? What is your first step in preparing and planning for such a big undertaking? Whether you have just now heard of the Camino, or if your flights are booked and you have a start date, this podcast will walk with you as you take your first steps of preparing, planning, and starting your Camino experience. Guide and long-time pilgrim Nancy Reynolds shares her 17 years of experience walking the Camino and leading 13 small groups on the Camino Francés – plus interviews with new pilgrims getting ready for their first ever Camino walks. And check out Nancy’s “YOU on the Camino de Santiago” podcast for first-time pilgrims.” Link here

The Camino Experience: “Imagine yourself walking the ancient pilgrimage trail to Santiago de Compostela, exploring the towns and villages of northern Spain and meeting people from all over the world. Imagine walking for hours each day, immersed in the inner solitude of your own heart and mind as you move through the beautiful outer landscapes.
“Your dream of walking the Camino de Santiago is about to become a reality! Join one of Nancy’s groups and start your pilgrimage on the Camino Francés with confidence and camaraderie. Here are the 2023 dates: September 9-13 and September 23-27.” Link here.

#3. Spanish Style hot chocolate. Thanks to Guy Joaquin, coordinator of Nor Cal Pilgrim Group, I was reminded of how great hot chocolate is in Spain. Let’s just say it is nothing like we find here in packets of powdered chocolate like Swiss Mix or Nestlé. In my experience, hot chocolate in Spain is about as thick as warm chocolate pudding—so thick that you almost can stand your churro in it. Try this recipe for the real deal. 

#4. PCT Trail Angel Donna Saufley needs our help. We recently received some sad news about Donna Saufley, who for a couple of decades, with her husband Jeff, ran Hiker Haven in Agua Dulce (S. CA). They were trail angels to thousands of PCT hikers. Donna didn’t just provide a place for your tent (though they did that too). She set out bins with clothing and partially used fuel containers for those that needed such items. Donna insisted on doing your dirty laundry herself (and often folded it before returning it to you!). They arranged shuttles to take hikers to a market, post office, or trailhead. The list of all they have done for the trail community is long!
Anyway, the Saufleys now need our help. “On February 24th Donna was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. This condition came as a complete surprise, as Donna was healthy and active right up to that point. Within 5 days of the initial diagnosis, Donna had to undergo intrusive brain surgery to remove the tumor. Although most of the cancer was removed some could not be, typical of the difficulty with this type of malignant brain tumor. As a result of the surgery, Donna suffered a post-operative stroke.” There is a great deal more info at this link. 
“First, we ask for your prayers and best wishes on behalf of the Saufleys with the hope that Donna’s recovery goes well. Second, we have started this Go Fund Me to help relieve just some of the financial burden from the Saufleys so they can focus on Donna’s care and recovery.” LINK HERE. (operated by Russell Anderson)

#5. The Camino and the donativo. Recently Rebekah Scott, who lives in Moratinos along the Frances route of the Camino and knows it well, posted this on Facebook in behalf of “Jesus Jato from Albergue Ave Fenix: 25 pilgrims fed & sheltered. Donations: 48 euro. This can’t go on!”
So I posted: “If you are staying in albergues, please be GENEROUS with your hosts. Of course, I/we don’t know who is staying at this place currently–and it’s quite possible that no one who reads Rebekah’s post, or mine, would be so inconsiderate, but just in case anyone thinks they shouldn’t donate for their stay–consider that it’s a privilege to stay with people who open their homes to you, or create and operate albergues, to support those on their pilgrimage. The cost of food, utilities, and everything else is going up in most places. It is often said that those who stay in albergues, etc., should pay what they can, but if you are someone who gets to Spain by plane, I am assuming you can pay a fair amount.
“Rebekah Scott, maybe you and others in the know can suggest an appropriate amount to donate? (I do know that 48 divided by 26 is less than 2 euros per person. Yikes!)”
Rebekah Scott responded: “Susan Alcorn, 6 or 7 euro minimum for a bed. 10 for a meal with meat and vino.”

I responded: “Rebekah, thanks for the info. We used to give that amount years ago. That certainly is what I would consider a minimum. There are so many generous hospitaleros and hosts helping pilgrims—sad to hear that some are taken for granted.”
Others made such comments as if we don’t support the albergues that use the donativo method, they won’t be able to make it—and if they are replaced, it would probably be by for-profit businesses. That would lead to big changes in what a pilgrimage is currently.

#6. TESTED: TOP WOMEN’S TRAIL RUNNING SHOES FOR RUNNING, HIKING, & BACKPACKING Published February 27th, 2023 BEST OVERALL: Salomon Sense Ride 5 and my current favorite: BEST LONG DISTANCE: Altra Lone Peak 7. Complete  list here

#7. Regional S.F. Bay Area: Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) writes: “With Earth Day just around the corner, and so many of our beloved Bay Area landscapes still healing from this year’s extreme weather, climate change has been looming large in many of our minds.
“But on the trail and in our research, here at POST we’re finding hope in some of our smallest – and wildest! – neighbors. From the Bay checkerspot butterfly’s pollination of rare plants to the part that northern flicker woodpeckers play in the forest, we see how small can be mighty.
“So, in honor of Earth Day, we invite you to take our quick Amazing Animals Quiz. Find out some of the wonderful ways that small can be mighty this Earth Day!”

#8. Regional: Santa Monica. Looking for a new adventure near Santa Monica, CA? Look no further with this info from Treeline Review
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.

I’d be sad to see you go. But if you want to, you can unsubscribe from here:


Balance vs Falling — a Hiker’s Challenge

Balance Matters!

Ralph demonstrates importance of balance
Ralph has great balance (Torres del Paine. Patagonia)

The last time I was in an airport, I witnessed an impressive (to me, anyway!) feat. A young woman, while walking across the waiting area, noticed that one of her shoes was untied. She preceded to stop and tie the undone lace while balancing on the other foot. 

I can’t confidently do that; I’m not certain if I ever could have done so. I do know, however, that I always used to stand on one foot while getting dressed. Now I usually sit on the bed or lean against a wall when putting on slacks or a skirt. I don’t really need to, and part of it is laziness, but it’s also an indication that I am less trusting of my ability to balance.  

When I was a kid, I thought nothing of walking along a curb or a narrow plank. Now I have second thoughts when I come to a stream crossing that involves using rocks or a log. Unless the rocks are very stable or the planks across a stream are wide, I much prefer to wade through. 

After my observation at the airport, I gave all of this some thought. I considered the fact that falls can be a very serious matter for seniors. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that “one in every three adults age 65 and older falls” each year. (I suspect that 1 in 3 of any age falls each year, but that’s another matter.) The CDC also says that falls are the leading cause of injury death for this age group and “in 2009, about 20,400 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries”. Even if older adults do not die from their falls, they are likely to sustain serious injuries that limit their activities and/or send them to a wheelchair. 

Even though I have very healthy bones and am active, I have been slacking off and not continuing to do these simple exercises.  Recognizing that a decline in stability is not serving me, I recently elected to sign up for a nearby adult-ed class that focuses not only on strength training and stretching, but also on balance. 

From past experience, I know that I will see improvement. I remember how gratifying it is to have quick results from any physical regimen! Whereas most exercise seems to take forever to show any improvement, a few simple routines can make a world of difference in a short time.  

I love my hiking poles and will continue to use them for their many benefits, but it is still important to have good balance for day-to-day activities as well as hiking ones. 

Here are three things that have worked for me:
1. Start by standing (near a chair or other stable object if necessary for safety) on one foot and lifting the other for increasingly lengthy times. (I often do this (eyes open!) when doing other simple tasks — such as waiting for the microwave to heat water for tea, or when brushing my teeth.) When you are able to stand on the one foot for at least a minute, try doing this with your eyes closed. (recommended by my chiropractor, Richard Teel of Novato, CA.) 

2. Stand on both feet, shoulder length apart. Walk 3 steps forward, then lift one foot and hold it up for one count. Walk another 3 steps forward and lift one foot again. Then take 3 steps backward, hold, 3 more back. Then go to the right 3 steps and hold, repeat. Then go to the left 3 steps and hold, repeat. Continue this series of stepping 3 steps forward, back, side, side, but with longer times of holding the one foot up. Increase to 2 counts, then 3, and then 10.  (taught by instructor, Francesca Weiss, at Acalanes Adult Center, Walnut Creek, CA)

3. Sign-up for classes and practice in yoga, chi gong, and tai chi. Many communities have Adult Ed exercise classes that are low-cost — sometimes even free for seniors. 

Hikers and Backpackers
If you want to keep hiking and backpacking, keep in mind that you need more than strength and endurance. No matter what your age, you also need to have good balance because falls are the single most common cause of hiker fatalities! 
Happy trails,
Susan Alcorn, backpack45

author of Walk, Hike, Saunter: Seasoned Women Share Tales and Trails; 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.



Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, Dec. 2022

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #278, Dec. 2022

Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips image of half dome
Yosemite’s Half Dome

Happy Holidays!
Contents of Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips:
#1. Bay Nature Talks — online and free
#2. New! “Boots McFarland – 20 Years on the Trail”
#3. Camino info: Ivar discusses 2023 Brierley Camino Guidebook and Bed Bugs.
#4. Camino: Sylvia Nilsen’s Guided Camino walks
#5. Camino: Hospitalero Training in Point Reyes, Ntl. Park, California
#6. First Woman to do Continuous Trans-Canada hike
#7. Heather Anderson received new award, plus offers hints to hikers
#8. Jaunting Jan’s 2022, Jaunt, the Landscape. WOW Edition. JOY!
#9. Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail. Tom Coroneos captures a grand peninsula hike.

#1. Bay Nature Talks — free.

The delightful and informative Bay Nature Magazine offers free one-hour webinars. Whether you want to read “An Inside Lock at Bay Area Bobcats,” “Nature Journaling with John Muir Laws,” “A Year in the Life of the Urban Gray Fox,” or something equally fascinating, you can enjoy it from anywhere — “an indoor escape into the San Francisco Bay Area’s natural world.” 

#2. New! “Boots McFarland – 20 Years on the Trail”.

  Geolyn Carvin writes, “Hi Susan, Yes, I finally finished the new book…. Man, that took a while.  I lost my mojo (like a lot of people during the pandemic) so gave myself permission to be lazy.  But luckily I got my focus back.”

“Boots McFarland — 20 Years on the Trail spans the history of the Boots character from 2003 to 2022.  It contains more than 130 comics moving through the seasons, showing the evolution of the artwork and of Boots’ personality.  Its colorful illustrations are for grown-ups, though most kids will enjoy them too.” 

“Geolyn Carvin has been in love with the mountains her whole life.  She has completed the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail.  ‘I had a lot of experiences on my hikes, mostly amazing, sometimes uncomfortable, occasionally painful, and most often humorous.  I enjoyed writing a journal and soon discovered that it was fun to draw a snapshot of the trail comedy that we all experience.”

#3.  Camino info:

Ivar discusses 2023 Brierley Camino Guidebook, number of pilgrims, BED BUGS and more. Could be important info for pilgrims in this video. (Bedbug portion Starts at about 3:00). 

#4. Sylvia Nilsen’s guided Camino walks.

“In spring everything in northern Spain is green, the wildflowers are spectacular and the European storks have returned to their huge nests on towers and steeples to raise their chicks. amaWalkers Camino is offering a 17-day walk from St Jean Pied Port (in France) to Santiago de Compostela. On your 17-day Camino you will walk 255 km, across three scenic sections of the Camino Frances, averaging 16.5 km (10.25 miles) per day. The longest day is 22km (13.6 miles).

We arrange everything, accommodation, transport on the sections you don’t walk, luggage transfers and a group leader who will accompany the group. All you have to do is walk! Information and registrations on our website

Sylvia is one of the women featured in my most recent book, Walk, Hike, Saunter: Tales and Trails from Seasoned Women Hikers.

#5. Camino Hospitalero Training, February 3-5, 2023.

The first American Pilgrims on the Camino Hospitalero training for 2023 has filled up, but there is a waitlist.  A hospitalero supports other pilgrims on the road to Santiago.
Here are the current plans for next year:
February 3-5, Point Reyes, CA. Registration has filled up, but the waitlist is open. Follow this link for more information.
April 11-13, Zephyr Cove, NV (Lake Tahoe)
June 2-4, Stroudsburg, PA
September/October, TBA
The February training costs $295 and will be held at the Hi Point Reyes Hostel, 1390 Limantour Spit Rd., Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, and will begin at 4:00 PM on Friday, February 3, 2023, and conclude at 5:00 PM on Sunday, February 5, 2023. Sunday night lodging is available at the hostel for an additional $25.

To attend you must: Have walked at least 100 km or biked at least 200 km of the Camino; Have stayed in at least 2 non-private albergues; Be a current member of American Pilgrims on the Camino; Be at least 18 years old by January 15, 2023; Provide proof of COVID vaccination plus the Booster; Note: all attendees may be required to wear masks during the training. Bring your masks.

Training Schedule: Check-in: 4:00 PM on Friday, February 3, 2023; Training complete: 5:00 PM on Sunday, February 5, 2023. You must attend the entire training session to be certified!  Make your travel plans accordingly! 
Register here: February 3-5, 2023 Hospitalero Training
Email for any questions here.

#6. First Woman to do a continuous hike of Trans-Canada.

Melanie Vogel completed the 12,000-Mile Trans-Canada Trail hike on Saturday, November 12, and became the first woman to complete a continuous coast-to-coast-to-coast hike of the Trans Canada Trail. She hiked all the land-based miles of the 15,000-mile land and water route—26 million steps.

 “Vogel started her journey on June 2, 2017 in Cape Spear, Newfoundland, and finished in Clover Point, Victoria, British Columbia.” She had originally planned to complete the hike in two years, but when COVID-19 began, “she was forced to reside in Yukon for a year and a half until she could resume hiking.”

Vogel was born and raised in Germany, and immigrated to Canada in 2008. “A 10-day trek to the Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal was her only previous long-distance hiking experience.”

The Trans Canada Trail (TCT), formerly known as the Great Trail, combines both land and water routes that, together, span over 24,000 km (14,912 mi). It is the longest trail network in the world, connecting the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans.

Prior to Vogel’s accomplishment, Dianne Whelan was recognized as the first person to complete both the land and water routes of the TCT in August of 2021. In 2017, Sarah Jackson became the first individual to complete an east-to-west journey on the trail.

Learn more: and

#7. Heather Anderson, aka Anish, gains new award, and more.

As her website says, she’s an explorer, trailblazer, thru-hiker. She’s also an award winner —including the hikers’ Triple Crown, has set many speed records on the trail, has hiked 45k foot miles, and was National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2019.  She has written two memoirs, published by Mountaineers Books, Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home (2019) and Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail (2021).

Her most recent honor was “becoming a member of the California Outdoor Hall of Fame. In her current issue, she writes, “To snuggle up with hot cocoa or tea and a good book. To take a moment and catch snowflakes on your tongue. To be grateful for the simple joys of being alive. The Danish call this ‘hygge’.”

Sign up for her Newsletter! Website here.  If you sign up for the newsletter, “As a welcome bonus you’ll receive an excerpt from my upcoming book: Adventure Ready: A Hiker’s Guide to Planning, Training, and Resiliency…available only to my newsletter subscribers!” 

Heather’s Hints from her December Gear Spotlight:
“The humble safety pin is often overlooked as a crucial piece of gear. Quite honestly, carrying a few of these in different sizes can save the day in so many ways. In addition to first aid (popping blisters) they can also repair a wide variety of gear and clothing failures.”

#8. Jaunting Jan shares highlights of travels and hikes in Colorado and more.

Jan (one of the women in Walk, Hike, Saunter) spent five months traveling and hiking this year. That’s especially noteworthy because it followed   lengthy knee rehab. “This 5-minute video showcases my favorite scenes. May it bring smiles as we head into the holiday season.” Jan’s 2022 Jaunt, the Landscape WOW Edition. “JOY! 

#9. And last but not least: Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail video by  Tom Coroneos.

Here, our friend Tom captures our delightful S.F. Peninsula hike. In late November, we did a hike of two Bay Area Ridge Trail segments: Russian Ridge and Windy Hill (8.3 miles). How many people are lucky enough to have a hiking companion who captures so many of the special moments we have on the trail? Tom is amazing. He hikes with us, goes home and takes a short nap, and then spends a couple of hours putting together his wonderful videos for us to enjoy the next day! +++++++

Walk Hike Saunter cover image
Walk, Hike, Saunter

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

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, November 2022 – blister prevention, john brierley event, Backpacker Mag last words

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #277, November 2022.

Happy Thanksgiving!

John Brierley coming on zoom near thanksgiving


#1. World’s Oldest Restaurant: Madrid
#2. Not good! Burning Clothes and Shoes after the Camino – Fisterra
American Pilgrims: John Brierley Zoom coming up
2023 Annual Gathering of Pilgrims in Lake Tahoe, NV, April 13-16, 2023
#5. Foot care/avoiding blisters
#6. Free delivery for donations of slightly used, outdoor gear
#7. Good advice from Backpacker Magazine’s final issue
Regional (California and Baja): The Blainville’s horned lizard
#9. Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail Hike
#10. Regional:
Jack London State Historic Park’s Ninth Annual After-Thanksgiving “Turkey Waddle,” Nov. 25, 2022

World’s Oldest Restaurant: Madrid.

 Camino-bound and stopping in Madrid? Check out Restaurante Botín in Madrid, Spain. It’s recognized by the Guinness World Records as the oldest restaurant in the world.  “At the World’s Oldest Restaurant, the Fire Has Been Burning. Since 1725. They’ve never turned the oven off.” (Mike Pomranz, Travel and Leisure; posted by Michael Noël of the Nor Cal Pilgrim group.)

#2. Not good! Burning Clothes and Shoes after the Camino!

A number of local websites are reporting another campaign against the practice of burning boots and clothing at Fisterra. Something which locals say has given an area of natural beauty the appearance of a landfill site. Previous poster campaigns have had limited success.

Ask yourself–would like this practice carried out on a beach near you, or in your backyard? If you want to get rid of your used hiking clothes, see item #6 below and see how you can send items to an organization that will pass them on to someone else. LNT!

#3. APOC (American Pilgrims on the Camino) Zoom session.

APOC will be holding its 2nd Annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, December 10th at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. “There will be an hour with John Brierley, author of Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino. In this live virtual event, John will share his inspiration and insight, from how the Camino is emerging from the COVID-19 years to his powerful personal reflections on the healing power of the Camino.

“A significant portion of this live Zoom session will be dedicated to answering your questions. Look for more information on how to register for the event through the American Pilgrims Facebook Group, on their website, and in your email if you are an #APOC member. Zoom: Registration link will be sent in an upcoming member email and event will be streamed live on the American Pilgrims Facebook Group (available to all).”

#4. American Pilgrims on the Camino — 2023 gathering.

This summer the APOC’s “planning teams provided updates regarding the 2023 Annual Gathering of Pilgrims in Lake Tahoe, NV, to be held April 13-16, 2023. Making it an international gathering is being discussed with the Canadian Company of Pilgrims. There was also consideration of proposed joint efforts with Spanish associations …”

#5. Avoiding blisters.

We all know that everyone’s feet are unique and what works for one may not work for all, but I was recently asked for my advice, and I answered as follows. Keep in mind that I had a terrible time with blisters on my first Camino hike (2001), but got the following advice from a (French) pilgrim, which has helped tremendously— as did changing from boots to trail runners (Altra Lone Peak).

I do two kinds of preventative taping. First I wrap a wide, breathable tape (Omnifix) around the ball of my foot (I have bunions). The tape is backed by paper that you easily pull off after you cut a length of it to fit. Then I wrap each toe that is prone to blisters with a one-inch tape called Medipore. The Medipore is breathable, stretchy, and soft-cloth-like. It tears off in about 1&1/2” segments; I tear off about 2-3 sections per toe. It stays on for a couple of days if needed. These products can be obtained through Amazon and many pharmacies.

In the past I have used double-layer socks such as Wrightsocks, and toe socks such as Injinji, but now I wear a single lightweight sock by Tilley, called “Unholey”, Tilley women’s ankle socks. Unfortunately, they are increasingly difficult to find (none have worn out, but just in case…) Darn Tough are tough, but also heavier than I prefer.

Other things to consider—it you are expecting to encounter a lot of loose dirt, or sand, you should consider a lightweight gaiter like the fun ones Dirty Girl Gaiters  offers. Blisters are generally caused by friction (abrasion or rubbing) and heat — and/or by ill-fitting shoes or socks.

When hiking, always take care of hot spots right away; take off shoes and socks to let things cool. Popping a blister is usually not a good idea because it can introduce bacteria and cause an infection. But if the #blister is large and painful, it might be necessary. If you choose to do so, be certain the needle, your hands, and any other material are sterile. Do not pop a blister than has blood in it or any other sign of infection. If you develop a blister, it usually will take a week to go away. You can cover it with a special bandage for blisters if necessary.  

#6. Wanted!! All that gear you never use: Outside’s Gear program, Give Back.

Three simple steps: pack up your gently used items, print a shipping label, and send them off (free in the U.S) to the Gear Fix. Their repair partner prepares items to be resold and to benefit the Outdoorist Oath (advocates for environmental justice and an inclusive outdoors.”

#7. Sound advice from Backpacker Magazine.

The last issue, as I understand it, of the print edition of Backpacker Magazine, is the Fall 2022. It’s an interesting comparison of the advice and practices in the early days of the magazine (which goes back 50 years), and of that given and favored now.
Hiking poles: Adjustable poles came about in the 1960s. German Karl Lendhart, a skier, came up with a locking system. The system, “patented for the first adjustable pole—the Leki Makalu—is still in use today.”

Trail running shoes: When I first started backpacking in 1989, I wore the kind of footwear that most other hikers were wearing — boots. However, choices have widened! “Last year, a thru-hiker survey found that 77% of Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers wore trail running shoes. “ The 2011 release of Altra’s Lone Peak model, changed things dramatically, and they have become the overwhelming favorite.  Credit the “breathable mesh upper, chunky lugs, cushy midsole, zero drop heel, and a wide, foot-shaped toe box.” ( Fall 2022)

#8. Regional (California and Baja): The Blainville’s horned lizard.

Have you ever seen one? Looking at an earlier (Spring 2022), copy of Bay Nature Magazine, I stumbled again on an article about this amazing reptile. It “is endemic to California and Baja, eats native harvester ants, and as a defense of last resort, squirts blood from its eyes.” The article continues, “the blood can reportedly reach six feet forward or backwards”— chiefly to startle coyotes, foxes, and dogs (it would startle me too!). Put this on your calendar to do a search next spring in our South and East Bay Counties. 

#9. Regional: Bay Area Ridge Trail.

After a delightful time at a recent event—where I was invited to give a talk on Walk, Hike, Saunter: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Hikers—I found a renewed interest in circumnavigating our amazing trail.
For those who aren’t familiar with the #Ridge Trail, it’s a planned 550-mile (890 km) multi-use trail along the hills and mountain ridgelines circling San Francisco Bay and more. Currently, four hundred miles are currently open. Link to Ridge Trail

With my hiking partners, Patricia Schaffarczyk, Tom Coroneos, and Ralph, we recently did another section-hike on the San Francisco peninsula. We started at the North Parking lot of Purisima Creek Redwoods (off Skyline/hwy 35) and ended at the South End Parking lot of Purisima Creek Redwoods. It was 5.8 miles of gentle descent (1000 ft.) and ascent through wonderful redwoods with occasional sightings of the ocean.

One of the things that struck me was that (except for an occasional airplane) it was absolutely quiet once we were away from the highway. On the weekends, it would be busier, but on this weekday, we saw only three other people.

#10. Regional: Jack London State Historic Park’s Ninth Annual After-Thanksgiving Turkey Waddle.

The Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Waddle Hike at Jack London State Historic Park sets the pace for a healthy holiday season. That’s Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. “…The annual Turkey Waddle Hike lets everyone get out and ‘shake their tail feathers’ after a day of feasting and football.

This moderate 3.5-mile hike leads through mixed evergreens on the way to the majestic Ancient Redwood (also affectionately known as the Grandmother Tree).
Waddlers, will gather at 10 a.m. in the Ranch parking lot to the right of the entrance kiosk.  The hike will end at noon.  The event will be cancelled in the event of rain. Great for all ages, participants should wear sturdy shoes and bring water.  The trail includes uneven and rocky surfaces and involves some elevation gain and loss.
“Reservations are required and can be made at   Tickets are $10, plus the $10 per car entry fee (up to nine passengers).” More info at:

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.