Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales & Tips, #277, November 2022.
#1. 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 dirtygirlgaiters.com 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.” oursideoline.com/give-back
#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.” (Backpacker.com 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 jacklondonpark.com/events/turkey-waddle-2022/. Tickets are $10, plus the $10 per car entry fee (up to nine passengers).” More info at: jacklondonpark.com/events/.
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
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.