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.

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