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.

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