Susan Alcorn has hiked extensively in Spain
and France. In 2001, she and her husband Ralph hiked 400+ miles
across northern Spain on the famous Camino de Santiago, a
traditional pilgrimage route. From that trip has come
Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago (June 2006), which
combines the author's narrative with legends, history, and
cultural information about the trail. Camino Chronicle was named finalist for the prestigious 2007 Ben Franklin award for Best Travel Essay.
The author's long distance hikes have continued. In spring 2004 and fall 2005, she and Ralph hiked a total of 350 miles of the LePuy route (aka GR65), one of the four major French pilgrimage trails that leads into the Spanish Camino de Santiago. In September 2006, they hiked 160 miles in France and Spain, completing their walk of the Le Puy route to Santiago. They have also hiked the Camino Portuguese from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compestela, Spain. Recently, they have completed a second French Camino route; they've gone from Arles into Spain on the GR 653 over the course of three years. In 2009 and 2010 Susan and her husband journeyed to Torres del Paine, Chile to hike its famous circuit trail. That resulted in her most recent book, Patagonia Chronicle.
In addition they section-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and have completed the 2650 mile national scenic trail that runs through the mountain ranges of California, Oregon, and Washington (Mexico border to Canada). They completed the PCT in 2010.
Another of Alcorn's achievements was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in January 2007. Kili, at 19,340 ft., is the highest mountain on the continent of Africa.
Prior to the Camino book, Alcorn published We're in the
Mountains, Not Over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned
Women Backpackers (2003). In this earlier book, the author
describes how she began backpacking at age 48 with the goal of
climbing Mt. Whitney (California), but with little idea what
she was getting into. Her pack was heavier than anything ever
before to rest on her shoulders, she was in an oxygen-rare
environment that made her stop every fifty yards to catch her
breath (and let her pulse stop its pounding in her ears), and
she met a bear that hadn't read the sign "above timberline, no
We're in the Mountains, Not Over the Hill opens with the author describing her adventures into the Sierra – at a time in her life when most of her acquaintances were choosing to buy recliners rather than backpacks. She describes the bear encounter, the kindness of strangers helping replenish food supplies, the lightning storm on Forester Pass, and the culminating climb to the top of Whitney – at 14,996' the highest point in the lower 48. Susan has continued to backpack in the Sierra. In 2001, she and Ralph completed their last section of the John Muir Trail --; the 221-mile trail that runs from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney through the highest mountains in California.
The Alcorns are Oakland residents who have lived in the Bay Area most of their lives. Susan attended local schools, and graduated from U.C. Berkeley. She returned to school to become an elementary school teacher and after earning her teaching credential from Cal State University, Hayward in 1986, she taught (primarily) 5th graders for more than 15 years. Nowadays, when she is not hiking, she enjoys spending time with friends, caring for her three grandchildren, or dancing Zydeco at Alameda’s Eagles Hall.
Alcorn is the author of two additional books, including an oral history-based history of the city of Richmond, CA.
Professional writers and publishers organizations:
Susan Alcorn is a member of several writers' and publishers' organizations:
BAIPA (Bay Area Independent Publishers Assoc.). Meets in San Rafael, CA. Monthly meetings feature guest speaker, q & a session, and networking. They also offer a member's forum and shared exhibit opportunities. www.baipa.net
BATW (Bay Area Travel Writers). Regional professional travel writers' association www.batw.org
Left Coast Writers™ is a community of writers who meet monthly at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA. The program usually includes a speaker (author, editor, publisher, agent) with a networking session following. www.leftcoastwriters.com
PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association. A non-profit trade association of independent publishers. More than 4,200 members. Offers educational materials, publisher directory, combined book exhibit opportunities, newsletter, trade discounts, etc. www.oma-online.org
SPAN, Small Press Association of North American. The non-profit trade association founded by Marilyn (author of Shameless Marketing for Shameless Brazen Hussie) and Tom Ross. 1,100 members. Annual conference, educational opportunities, publisher directory, discounts on shipping, supplies, insurance, etc. www.spannet.org
Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67. She last hiked it at the age of 76.