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Susan Alcorn's Backpacking Tales and Tips Newsletters 2018

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Shepherd Canyon Books
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2Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #231, June, 2018

Contents:

1. Camino: Vezelay, FR route
2. Hiking in Italy
3. 2019 American Pilgrim gathering
4. What America’s most accomplished hikers choose
5. Billy Goat passed 50,000 mile mark
6. Fatalities in Yosemite
7. Happy Yosemite News
8. Book Tour planning/looking for new venues
9. Regional: New trail maps, free

Articles: 

#1. Camino: Vezelay, FR route: Ralph and I are just back (and still in the awkward jet-lag phase) from a walk on the French Chemin known as the Vezelay route. Last year we started in Vezelay and walked to Saint Amand Montrond; this year we continued on this route to a town just short of Limoges (to Saint Leonard de Noblat), a distance of 134 miles. From the Confraternity of Saint James, “The route runs southwest from the little town of Vézelay (in Burgundy), famous for its pilgrimage to the shrine of Mary Magdalene, whose relics are reputedly kept in its magnificent Abbey.  There are two distinct branches, the Bourges and Nevers routes, which meet in the village of Gargilesse.”https://www.csj.org.uk/planning-your-pilgrimage/routes-to-santiago/the-routes-today/the-vezelay-route/ 

Initially the landscape was green, flat, with many more cows than people (we saw perhaps a dozen and a half hikers the entire time), small farms and towns. Then we went through a section of large agricultural landholdings. And then the third section took us through the mountains—and reached what we were told was the highest elevation we would encounter until we reached the Pyrenees. In was fun to do some (moderate) climbing and spend time in forest after so much open landscape. For the most part, we were walking on pavement (I felt that having a pair of flat Spenco inserts was a tremendous help). I grew to love our hiker umbrellas because of the heat—we had only one time when it rained the entire day.

 

As usual for us, we stayed in a variety of accommodations—from pilgrim albergues to *** star hotels. Perhaps my favorite places to stay on this route were the Accueil Pelerin stays. This is a program that arranges for hosts to open their homes to pilgrims (not the general public). At a turn in the road, Loy-sur-Arnon, we stayed with Gerard Loup, a talented painter whose work is shown in galleries throughout Europe. As is typical of this program, we took our meals with our host. Many times when we have been in homes that participate in the Accueil Pelerin, our hosts have served us multi-course dinners including everything from aperitifs to the final cheese plate and dessert—all of the freshest ingredients. Because our French is limited, it is sometimes a bit awkward, but generally our hosts know more English than we do French, so we all manage. When possible, we select a place where English is spoken just to make it easier for everyone. Really, it’s not necessary to speak fluent French to get by—but it is more fun!


As far as cities and towns to see—most are tiny, but three come to mind as places where it would be good for a layover day—Chateaumeillant, Saint Leonard de Noblat, and Limoges. Keep in mind that most restaurants and shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so carry enough lunch materials to carry you through and we recommend making reservations (booking.com or directly) for accommodations a night ahead because some places will be open only if you have arranged a stay.


Ralph prepared a detailed spreadsheet of the towns—mileages and facilities, so send a message if you would like a copy. At some point, he’ll post it on our website www.backpack45.com, but he hasn’t done that yet.  


A couple of interesting coincidences: We were La Souterraine, staying in a beautiful old house dating from the 1500s, and over dinner started talking with a young couple from Argentina. He spoke English, so we soon got to talking about where they lived in Patagonia. We mentioned that we had met a couple from Buenos Aires many years back, the Zapp family, who were at that time traveling in the U.S. and had stopped in San Francisco on a book tour (sitting at a table outside the Cow Palace) and were selling their new book, “Spark Your Dream.” One of their dreams from an early age was to travel to Barrow, Alaska—they had accomplished that in their 1928-model car —and had gained two children along the trip. 


I lost track of the Zapp family about the time they were trying to figure out how to get their car to Australia because that country’s immigration policy would not allow their wood-sided vehicle into the country because of possible insect infestation. Anyway, our new-found acquaintance from Patagonia said he knew of the couple--that they are considered heroes in Argentina because traveling to Alaska—the tip of the U.S. to the north, from Ushuaia, the tip of Argentine from the south—was a dream to many Patagonians. Then when we got home, I found an email announcement from the Zapp family that they are currently in France, with four kids and still the ancient car, and are raising money to sail back home after 18 years of travel around the world. Fascinating couple, check them out at  https://www.verkami.com/locale/en/projects/20441 


The second story is less complicated, but fun to tell. We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant—sort of in the middle of nowhere and were surprised that the dining room was filled with African art—paintings, carved figures, and a display case with jewelry. I had lost my earrings early on the walk and was interested in buying some new ones—in part because I didn’t want the holes in my ears to close up and have to go through getting them pierced again.  I wanted something inexpensive and here there were some good choices. I selected a pair of green ones from Senegal. As we were hiking the next day, it became increasingly warm and we stopped while I took off my pullover sweater. Off popped one of the earrings. The stone part of the earrings wasn’t hard to find, but we couldn’t find the little metal backing. As Ralph and I were bent over searching in the loose dirt, another hiker, from Berlin we soon learned, came along and we explained what we were doing. He took a look and immediately came up with the earring backing. We continued talking a bit longer, and then he, a much faster hiker, went on his way. He was the only hiker we saw all day. Later, when I was on Facebook, I came upon a post from a woman who was in his same Facebook group—he had told the story to them.  Small, fun world!


3  #2. Italy: The second part of our trip was a guided hiking tour, “Tuscany, Portofino, and the Cinque Terre” (Italy) with Wilderness Travel. There were nine participants and three   leaders. We started in Fiesole, just outside of Florence, and ended in Camogli, near Portofino. My main interest was in seeing Cinque Terre, but like many others in the group, we   actually liked other places we visited more. The Cinque Terre is beautiful, but very crowded—even on the trails up in the hills. We ended our trip with four days on our own in Venice.


  #3. Camino de Santiago: Next year’s 22nd Pilgrim gathering by the American Pilgrims on the Caminowww.americanpilgrims.org will be in North Carolina. The 2019 Gathering of Pilgrims, with the theme “Cultivating Camino Connections” is scheduled for  Thursday, March 28 - Sunday, March 31, 2019  at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, Black Mountain, North Carolina. If you are interested in volunteering as a Camino albergue host, check the APOC website for information about hospitalero trainings. 


  #4. The Hiking Life: I enjoy Cam’s blogposts. Here’s a link to his info on the gear that 12 of the most accomplished thru-hikers in this country favor. I was especially interested to read that 4 of the 5 women he asked wear the shoes that Ralph and I are currently using—Altra Lone Peak trail runners. (A huge thank you to Scott Williams for turning us on to these zero drop shoes that have plenty of toe space!!!) :https://www.thehikinglife.com/2018/04/the-thru-hikers-gear-list-vol-2/ 


#5. Saddened to learn that there have recently been three fatalities in Yosemite National Park. On Saturday, June 2, two experienced climbers fell when on the Freeblast Route of El Capitan. And in May, a person fell while on the cables while climbing the very popular Half Dome. The park identified the victims on El Capitan as Jason Wells, 45, of Boulder, Colorado and Tim Klein, 42, of Palmdale, California. Klein reportedly had climbed the peak more than a hundred times previously; Wells also had climbed it many times. The Half Dome incident was the first since 2010. The victim was on the cables, which go up the last 400 feet of the dome. The report is that it was during a thunderstorm when the granite was very slippery.https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/22/us/yosemite-national-park-half-dome-cables-death/index.html


#6. Good news from Yosemite: According to the Yosemite Conservancy, the park has seen a 95% reduction in bear incidents since 1998. Bear incidents include damage to property (mostly cars); stolen food, or (more rarely) human injury. Yosemite is home to 300-500 black bears (not grizzlies) and they eat 8,000-20,000 calories of bugs and vegetation per day. 


The Mariposa Grove, home to several hundred Giant Sequoias, has been closed for restoration for three years, but is scheduled to reopen to visitors at  9 am  on  June 15, 2018 . 


#7. 50,000 trail miles! John E Mummert shared a post on Facebook on May 31, that legendary long-distance hiker Billy Goat (trailname) made his goal of 50,000 trail miles. Billy Goat, 79, well-known in Pacific Crest Trail circles, reached his goal while hiking in Portugal. 


1#8. Book tour venues: I am in the process of scheduling dates for our narrated slide show on the Norte and Primitivo routes of the Camino de Santiago—the topic of Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo. If you have suggestions of where our program would be welcomed, please let me know. We had more than 200 people turn out for our March/April programs at REI and for the Northern California Pilgrim group and received wonderful reviews. 


#9. Regional--new trail maps: Mount Diablo Trail Map. A new version of the map, covering the mountain and surroundings parks and preserves is available at Save Mount Diablo events, or by request at smdinfo@savemountdiablo.org  The John Muir Land Trust also has new maps—for the Fernandez and Carr ranches. Visit jmlt.org to see them. Or click on https://jmlt.org/fernandez_ranch.html

Happy trails, happy travels, 

Susan Alcorn (aka Backpack45)

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #230 April, 2018

Contents: 

  1. John Vonhof does a podcast about Susan’s Camino adventures
  2. Angela “walks the earth” 
  3. 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System 
  4. Susan and Ralph’s Norte and Primitivo programs at S.F. Bay Area REI stores and Book Passage, Corte Madera
  5. 'Scrubba’ 
  6. ‘Purple Rain’ Skirts
  7. ‘Last Minute’ camping/backpacking rentals
  8. Pacific Crest Trail Assoc. on safe stream crossings 
  9. PCTA Seeks volunteers
  10. ‘Passport in Time’ seeks volunteers
  11. Regional: S.F. Bay Area Bay Nature’s excellent hiking map and info
  12. Taking a break from the newsletter


3Articles: 

#1. John Vonhof, author of the popular book, Fixing Your Feet (great resource for hikers and runners), also runs a podcast called Writers on Fire. He was kind enough to interview me in March about the long distance hikes Ralph and I have done—in particular the Caminos. Many hints for hikers are included in my comments. http://www.writersauthorsonfire.com/132-susan-alcorn/


#2. “My name is Angela Maxwell and I’ve been walking solo around the world for three years. I left my home in Oregon, USA to attempt a slow travel adventure across four continents, three of which I have completed. I have one continent left to complete my walk, which is home across the US. However, I made a side trip back to Mongolia to join an expedition with camels across the Steppes.

“When I’m not walking, I enjoy painting and writing. One of the aspects of my walk that I enjoy is the solitude because I’m an introvert. But my ambition is to connect with the culture and people in the places I walk through. Slow adventuring is a way to learn, expand our ideas and creativity and encourage cultural understanding. Although my walk may be completed in the next year or two, I think I’ll be going walking adventures for the rest of my life.” Follow Angela at http://www.shewalkstheearth.com/


1#3. Help celebrate the 50th Anniversary (Oct. 2-1968- Oct 2, 2018 ) of the National Trails System. Events will be announced later. (photo in snow PCT in Washington below)


#4. Caminos Norte and Primitivo: Ralph and I are off to a good start with our schedule of events on the Caminos Norte and Primitivo narrated slide presentations. We continue through the end April. All events are free; reservations recommended (but generally not an issue). We would love to see you! 

April 3, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Fremont, CA

April 4, 2018 .  Wednesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Corte Madera, CA

April 11, 2018 .  Wednesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Concord, CA

April 14, 2018 .  Saturday .  7:00-8:30 p.m.  BOOK PASSAGE, Corte Madera, CA

April 17, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI San Francisco, CA

April 19, 2018 .  Thursday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI San Carlos, CA

April 24, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Saratoga, CA

April 28, 2018 .  Saturday .  9:00 am.-10:30 am.  REI Dublin


#5. At the March RUCK (an American Long Distance Assoc.-West event) in Berkeley, we met a couple who were preparing to go on one of the Camino routes and learned about a product that they are taking called the Scrubba, which they will use for doing their laundry. Lorie Florence had a sample. You fill the bag with your laundry, your soap or determent, and rub-a-dub-dub. What’s unique about the Scrubba is that inside the bag are “hundreds of internal Scrubba nodules [to] efficiently clean clothes in minutes–a modern take on the old fashioned washboard.” It’s made of “Durable microbial- and hydrolysis-resistant polyether TPU” and can doubles as a dry-bag. It weighs about five ounces and isn’t cheap, but it seems pretty ingenious. Several models and systems starting at about $45. https://thescrubba.com/


#6. At the RUCK, I was also introduced to Purple Rain Adventure Skirts, and was very impressed. The skirts are handmade in Mandy ‘Purple Rain' Bland’s small workshop in Southern Oregon. Mandy herself is an experienced backpacker; she came up with the idea for the skirts while thru hiking the Appalachian Trail (and also hiked the PCT).  The skirts are lightweight, comfortable, and well designed. The waistband is of wide stretchy fabric so that it doesn’t rub or bunch up uncomfortably under a backpack’s hip belt, the length is moderate so that you don’t feel you are revealing all, and the two pockets are large enough, snap shut, and placed well so that you can actually reach them while wearing your pack. Her second item is a hiker kilt, which is very similar to the skirt, but has a snap at the hem line that can be snapped together to provide a bit more coverage when in town, etc. Highly recommended product. http://www.purplerainskirts.com/ 


#7. More RUCK: “Last Minute;” I also visited a booth for Last Minute, “Rent outdoors gear 1 hour before your trip.” www.lastmingear.com Call or text +1-415-813-1881. They sell and rent some products in the San Francisco store, and deliver to additional areas. 


4#8. The Pacific Crest Trail Association says that “People die in stream crossings. Tragically, two thru-hikers drowned last year. It’s better to turn around than risk a dangerous crossing. Don't underestimate the risk. We want you to be prepared, so we wrote a whopping 2,600 words on the topic of staying safe. While long, it's concise and full of useful information. Pour a cup of tea and read it over.”

One example given, “If you have three people, try the triangle method.

“Unbuckle your packs and form a triangle facing each other. Hold on to the waist of the person next to you. Have a strong person upstream to break the flow. Stay close together and have a leader talk the team through each step. Make sure two people are securely planted before the third person moves. Together, as a tripod holding each other up, you’re stronger. Work your way slowly across the stream as a team.”


#9. PCTA seeks volunteers. Projects up and down the trail—some are one day, some a week or more. One big one is working on the 12 miles affected by last year’s Eagle fire along the Columbia River (currently still closures in the area), but the is working on the situation. Mar 27, 2018 they reported that “After approximately 12 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Columbia River Gorge was damaged in the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire, PCTA volunteers are working with the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Columbia Gorge Recovery Team to reopen the trail,” Pacific Crest Trail Association announced in March.

More projects, look here. Volunteer projects. 


#10. Interested in cultural history? “Hello PITsters: and welcome to this March edition of the e-Traveler! We just had several new projects roll in for you to take a look at, and other great projects still in the application phase and looking for hardy PIT adventurers. Some of the new ones are "ongoing until filled," so don't miss your chance - apply today! We know there are other projects on their way, so keep an eye peeled here, on our Facebook and Twitter feeds and, of course, on the PIT website (www.passportintime.com).


The PIT Clearinghouse will be closed from  April 7-17 …, but applications will be accepted and processed, and they will be checking emails. 

(Editor) Under their current projects, I found these examples of projects: 

June 14-25 ;  June 28-July 9 ;  July 12-July 23 ;  July 26-August 6 ;  August 9-August 20 ;  August 23-September 3, 2018  - Historic Elk Lake Guard Station Staffing Project 2018 - Deschutes NF – OR. Historic Elk Lake Guard Station lies along the beautiful and popular Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. It was originally built in 1929, and was afterward in regular use for almost seven decades. Later, after having been “de-commissioned” as a full-time Forest Service guard station, it was in dire need of maintenance and repair. From 1998-2001, the Forest Service and Passport in Time volunteers worked to restore the landmark. In 2001, the guard station, eventually listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), re-opened its doors as a Forest Service visitor’s center and interpretive historic site. Since that time, PIT volunteers have been recruited and trained to staff Elk Lake Guard Station, and serve as professional-caliber information/interpretation specialists for the site’s thousands of annual visitors. Continuing that tradition, we need your help as uniformed Forest Service representatives again this year. Volunteers will keep the station clean and tidy, and will provide a full range of information and interpretive services to visitors.


“ July 2-July 11 ;  July 12-July 23 ;  August 1-August 13 ;  August 15-August 23 ;  August 23-September 4, 2018  - Fish Lake Guard Station Interpretive Hosting Project 2018 - Willamette NF - OR

Nestled in the High Cascades of Western Oregon, you will find the Fish Lake Guard Station. The Station is a Forest Service administrative building group constructed in the early 1900s, and was in regular use between then and the 1960s. During its formal life span, it served as a guard station, fire headquarters, and remount station. The site is bordered to the southwest by Fish Lake, and encompasses 16.81 acres of gently sloping, south-facing, high plateau terrain. It hosts 18 historic buildings, structures, and sites, as well as two non-historic buildings and other structures. The Guard Station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), as is the Santiam Wagon Road, which cuts through the Guard Station compound. Once again, we call on PIT volunteers to serve as uniformed interpretation specialists for the many visitors to the Forest and the Guard Station! You will work with the public, providing information, history, and guidance during your session. During your hours “off the clock,” this is a fantastic place for walks, hikes, fishing, wildlife (and people) viewing, and much more! We will only take applications until all slots are filled, though, so apply today – we hope to see you for another great season at Fish Lake Guard Station! http://www.passportintime.com


#11. Regional: S.F. Bay Area. Bay Nature’s excellent trail-finder hiking map and info https://baynature.org/trail-finder/


#12. We're taking a break-- so there will not be a May issue of this newsletter.


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Happy trails, 

Susan Alcorn aka Backpack45

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips, March 2018

Contents: 

  1. Tomorrow ,  Saturday : Special Camino Norte & Primitivo presentation after Nor. CA pilgrim walk
  2. “50-Mile Hiking Craze ‘Foolhardy’”
  3. KINDLE version of Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo
  4. Reported Attack on Camino Pilgrim near Finisterre, Spain did not happen!
  5. Northern California “Shell Blessing and Potluck” in March
  6. Susan and Ralph’s Norte and Primitivo programs at S.F. Bay Area REI stores and Book Passage
  7. 10-tips-for-hiking-downhill/#comment-13423
  8. Keeping synthetic fibers out of the environment
  9. Why Americans are developing osteoarthritis of the knee in greater numbers
  10. The Ruck’s coming up
  11. REI offering Camino tours on the Norte.
  12. Challenge from East Bay Regional Parks
  13. California Mission Walkers


Articles: 

1

#1. S.F. Bay Area Regional: Oakland, CA. Tomorrow,  Sat. March 3 , Ralph and I will be giving our first narrated slide show presentation on the Caminos Norte and Primitivo as part of the “Lunch and Learn Camino Presentation” following the regular Lake Merritt Walk by the Northern California Chapter of APOC. 


The Lake Merritt walk is open to everyone. It’s a monthly, informal gathering that goes rain or shine starting from the pergola on the east side of Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Participants meet at  10:30 a.m.  and start walking at  10:45 a.m. —going clockwise around the lake on a paved, level 3.3 mile walk, which takes about an hour. 


The “Lunch and Learn Camino Presentation” is optional and requires a reservation for lunch and the program at the nearby Barlago Italian Kitchen. Look for the event on our Peregrinos Northern California Facebook group to RSVP online, or email Laurie put the 'at' sign herecaminoprovides.com.


#2. “’50-Mile Hiking Craze ‘Foolhardy.’” Some of you may remember a hiking craze during JFK’s presidency. As I recently was sorting through some old newspaper clippings, I came across this item “Kansas City, MO (AP) The national reaction to President Kennedy’s challenge on 50-mile hikes was foolhardy, says a former Green Bay Packer football lineman. ‘Leave the spectacular for television,” Dr. James S. Feurig, now director of student health at Michigan State University, said at the American College Health Association meeting  Thursday  [4/25/1963]. He said less that 2-1/2 percent of Americans get enough exercise at their work.” The Independent (Richmond, CA) dated April 26, 1963


#3. Reminder: The KINDLE version of Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo is also now available on Amazon. Please spread the word to your friends and family who might be taking a Camino walk this year. And if you enjoy Healing Miles, please consider writing an Amazon review. 


#4. Pilgrim attach did not occur… Last month, you may recall, I ran an item about a pilgrim woman being abducted and raped while walking from Finisterre to Santiago de Compostela, Spain in early February. Now according to an article cited by American Pilgrims on the Camino, we learn that this attack did not occur. “This morning, the Voz de Galicia reported that that the pilgrim, after obtaining proper medical and psychological care, has admitted she fabricated the incident as a result of a psychological breakdown. Full details of the report can be found inhttps://www.lavozdegalicia.es/…/pe…/0003_201802G22P10991.htm. (February 22 at 4:33am)


#5. Regional S.F. Bay Area. The Northern California Chapter’s Annual Shell Blessing Ceremony and Potluck will be  Saturday, March 17, 2018 9:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.  at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Oakland. Reservations are required. Check at APOC’s website at http://www.americanpilgrims.org/northern-california-chapter


2#6. Caminos Norte and Primitivo: Ralph and I are going to have a schedule full of narrated slide presentations on the Caminos Norte and Primitivo at the end of March and through April. All events are free; reservations recommended (but generally not an issue). We would love to see you! 

March 27, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI, Mountain View, CA 

March 28, 2018 .  Wednesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI, Berkeley, CA 

April 3, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Fremont, CA

April 4, 2018 .  Wednesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Corte Madera, CA

April 11, 2018 .  Wednesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Concord, CA

April 14, 2018 .  Saturday .  7:00-8:30 p.m.  BOOK PASSAGE, Corte Madera, CA

April 17, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI San Francisco, CA

April 19, 2018 .  Thursday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI San Carlos, CA

April 24, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Saratoga, CA

April 28, 2018 .  Saturday .  9:00 am.-10:30 am.  REI Dublin


#7. 10 Tips for Hiking Downhill. Cam’s blogpost, The Hiking Life, has some helpful suggestions for going downhill without injury including: take shorter steps; tighten your hip belt, keep your pack weight down. Read all of his ideas and the why and wherefore here.https://www.thehikinglife.com/2014/12/10-tips-for-hiking-downhill/#comment-13423

I agree with all of the suggestions—and have found that #9 is of utmost importance. I worry a lot about falling when going downhill (at my age, in the 70s, it is of more concern), but I remind myself to stay loose because I have found that the more rigid I hold myself, the more likely I am to slip and slide.  


#8. Fleece garments aren’t perfect. In spite of their great usefulness to hikers, fleece clothing has a downside—“every time such garments are washed, thousands of plastic fibers are released and ultimately end up on rivers and oceans,” where they work their way through the food web. What you can do: suggests the article, "Don’t Get Fleeced," in Sierra Magazine, Jan/Feb. 2018, is don’t wash these items as much and look into outerwear options. There is a bag designed to hold your fleece clothing while washing that will keep the microfibers out of the waterways—Guppyfriend washing bag. Guppyfriend.com


#9. Why the increase in osteoarthritis? According to a Harvard study, Americans are twice as likely now to get osteoarthritis of the knee than they did before WW II. And it is not just because Americans are living longer and are heavier. Researchers have hypothesized that "physical inactivity may be a factor because it can lead to thinner cartilage and weaker muscles to stabilize the knee joint, and it can contribute to low-grade inflammation.” (University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, Dec. 2017.)

4

#10. The RUCK! “Ruck is the German word for Backpacking, and has been used through the trail community as a name for an event that helps you get out and backpack. Cost is $20-$35. On site camping at some locales will be available  Friday  and Saturday  nights for those who wish to stay overnight. 

“This day-long event is designed for all sorts of backpackers (from novice to expert) to prepare themselves for the hiking season. The primary focus is on attendees looking to set out on their first long distance hike be it on the Camino de Santiago, Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, Timberline, Wonderland, or John Muir Trail.

“Whether you are on trail for a few days or several months, if you’re hiking this summer, this is the event to attend!" http://www.aldhawest.org/Rucks

March 3, 2018 , Inland NW Ruck, Coeur d'Alene, ID

March 10, 2018 ; NorCal Ruck, Berkeley Hills, CA

March 17, 2018 , Colorado Rockies Ruck, Golden, CO

March 31, 2018 , Bellingham Ruck, Bellingham, WA


#11. Camino: REI is offering nine-day trips along the Camino priced from $4,199.  Some dates are still available.https://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/europe/spain-camino-de-santiago


#12. Annual Trails Challenge opens in East Bay Regional Parks. This fun, self-monitoring challenge is to hike the equivalent of a marathon, 26.2 miles, or five of their featured trails, by the end of the year. There are 20 different trails—varying in length and level of difficulty and it’s a great way to train and to experience new or old favorites. Download the guidebook and to find out where you can pick up a free t-shirt while the supply lasts. 


3#13. California Mission Walkers news. California Mission Walkers goal is, “promoting a walking route along the historic El Camino Real between the 21 California Spanish missions, and supporting those who walk it.” The have a new website,missionwalk.org which they hope will help to spread the word about the California Mission Walk, make it easier for people to find the group, and provide information to those planning their walks, including information about getting started on a mission walk. Their California Mission Walk Facebook page will still continue for our ongoing discussions. 


Happy trails!

Susan Alcorn aka Backpack45

 

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #228 February 2018

  1. The many benefits of hiking poles
  2. KINDLE version of Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo
  3. Woman attacked on Camino
  4. The focus on setting records going too far?
  5. Taking a short, steep horseback ride  
  6. Regional: Camino talks on packing (Silicon Valley Chapter)
  7. Regional: Northern California “Shell Blessing and potluck in March
  8. Regional: Special Camino Norte & Primitivo presentation after Nor. CA walk
  9. Regional: Susan and Ralph's programs at S.F. Bay Area REI stores Norte and Primitivo 
  10. REI Adventures offering trip along Norte route
  11. APOC Gathering spots filling fast. 
  12. Regional: Excellent, and somewhat challenging, hiking opportunities
  13. Regional: East Bay Regional Park District’s Trail Challenge 2018

Articles: 

2


#1. The many benefits of hiking poles. 
Ralph and I have used several types of hiking poles over the years—after our initial backpacking trips in the Sierra where we each used a single wooden pole found trailside.  The first purchased poles were aluminum—which we liked initially, but then better things came along. We don’t like the twist-to-adjust ones because the twist mechanism always seems to fail at the least convenient times. Some people like the locking-type mechanism, but I no longer see a need to adjust the length of my pole whether going up or down hills. I absolutely love my current poles—Black Diamond, of carbon fiber, which collapse down 15 & ¾ inches and weigh 4.5 oz. (for the pair). 


Why I love them: provide stability—especially when stream-crossing, on uneven ground, scrambling up hillsides, descending steep paths. Push me along faster on level ground. Work upper body and take some of the load off lower body, which provides help to the knee, hip, ankle, and feet joints, etc. 



Some other benefits not always considered:

  1. Prevent hands swelling in hot weather
  2. Provide support for some tent models
  3. Protect or possibly ward off animals—including insects
  4. Useful for guiding snakes off the trail
  5. Provide entertainment – baton twirling during idle moments
  6. Allow drawing arrows to point the way (temporarily only) or initials in the sand
  7. Measure depth of water, or mud, before a crossing

Phillip Werner, also known Section Hiker, asks, “Why aren’t all Trekking Poles This Good? He loves his new Pacer Poles as he explains in this current blog: http://sectionhiker.com/pacer-poles-why-arent-all-trekking-poles-this-good/


#2. The KINDLE version of Healing MilesHealing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo is also now available on Amazon. Please spread the word to your friends and family who might be taking a Camino walk this year. And if you enjoy Healing Miles, please consider writing an Amazon review. 


#3. Appalling news from the Camino near Finisterre: I am sorry to have to report that a pilgrim woman was abducted and raped while walking from Finisterre to Santiago just two days ago. She survived the attack and is receiving care. https://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/santiago/val-do-dubra/2018/02/04/secuestran-violan-peregrina-abandonan-desnuda-val-do-dubra/0003_201802G4P9998.htm I want to remind people that more than 300,000 people reached the pilgrim office last year—and that figure does not include the many who walked Camino routes but did not go into the office to receive a credential. Still, there are isolated areas, and trails that are more remote, so taking precautions is important. Most everyone agrees that hiking in Spain is safer than hiking in many parts of the U.S., but that is cold comfort to anyone who experiences an attack.


Here’s a repeat of an item in last September’s newsletter with some safety precautions, "Women’s Safety on the Camino. In general, the Camino paths are very safe places to be, but just like in the ‘real world,’ incidents occur. Anyone on the trails is well advised to program Spain’s (and many other countries in Europe) emergency number, 112, into their telephone. There is a downloadable App that allows you to send an alert from a mobile device/smartphone to the police.’ https://alertcops.ses.mir.es/mialertcops/info/info.xhtml 

Finally, for the benefit of everyone, it is urged that you report all incidents to the police.”


#4. Outside Magazine, Marc Peruzzi, Jan 20, 2018. OUT OF BOUNDS: Stop the Progression Already. Increasingly, what we do outside is less about enjoying the activity itself as an intrinsic good, and more about planning ways to go bigger, faster, and farther, often for our selfie-stick mounted cameras. And so it went that once healthy outdoor pursuits devolved into suicide clubs."


#5. Horses to take you up to O Cebreiro on the Camino Frances? Just heard about during a local pilgrim walk. Probably wouldn’t be for me because every rental horse I have been on races back to the stable instead of forging on ahead, but some love this service. When on the Camino, you’ll see a sign at the start of tiny Vega del Calcarce, which is a few miles ahead of the 620-meter elevation ascent to O Cebreiro. The actual rentals began in Las Herrerias. The service is by Victor, reached at 638-041823. Cost, last I heard, is 35 Euros—pretty steep, but so is the ascent. On Ivar’s forum I saw a comment that the horses are not well cared for, but the majority of people using this service did not comment on this claim. 


#6.  Camino Events - Packing for the Camino. Regional: Judy Barnes and Pat Day of the Camino Silicon Valley Chapter. Tuesday, February 6, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. REI, MARINA. 145 General Stilwell Drive, Marina, CA Register online or call the store at 831-883-8048. And, Wednesday, February 7, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.REI, SAN CARLOS, 1119 Industrial Road, San Carlos, CA

Register online or call 650-508-2330.


#7. Camino de Santiago: Regional S.F. Bay Area. The Northern California Chapter’s Annual Shell Blessing Ceremony and Potluck will be  Saturday, March 17, 2018  at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Oakland. Check at APOC’s website at http://www.americanpilgrims.org/local-chapters for more details or changes.


#8. Camino: Northern CA chapter: The next regular informal walk around Oakland’s Lake Merritt will be on  Saturday , Mach 3, 2018. From Laurie Ferris’s Camino Provides site, “The group meets at the pergola on the east side of Oakland’s Lake Merritt at  10:30 a.m.  and starts walking at  10:45 a.m.  in a clockwise direction around the lake. It is a paved and level 3.3 mile walk and takes about an hour.” Everyone is welcome. 


3Following the March walk, there will be lunch at the Barlago Italian Kitchen and Susan and Ralph Alcorn will be presenting a narrated slide show on their Norte and Primitivo Camino pilgrimages. Lunch and the program will be RSVP-required as space is limited. More event details will be posed by  Feb. 10  on the Peregrinos Northern California Facebook group, or you can email Laurie@caminoprovides.com


#9. Susan and Ralph’s REI Events on the Caminos Norte and Primitivo: Ralph and I are going to have a schedule full of narrated slide presentations on the Caminos Norte and Primitivo at the end of March and through April. All events are free; reservations recommended (but generally not an issue). We would love to see you! 

March 27, 2018 .  Tuesday ,  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI, Mountain View, CA 

March 28, 2018 .  Wednesday ,  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI, Berkeley, CA 

April 3, 2018 .  Tuesday ,  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Fremont, CA

April 4, 2018 .  Wednesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Corte Madera, CA

April 11, 2018 .  Wednesday ,  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Concord, CA 

April 17, 2018 .  Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI San Francisco, CA

April 19, 2018   Thursday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI San Carlos, CA

April 24, 2018   Tuesday .  7:00-8:30 pm.  REI Saratoga, CA

April 28, 2018 .  Saturday .  9:00 am.-10:30 am.  REI Dublin, CA

#10. Camino: REI is giving a nine day-trip along the Caminos Norte and Primitivo. Priced from $4,199. https://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/europe/spain-camino-de-santiago


#11. Final Reminder: Annual National Gathering of American Pilgrims on the Camino,  April 12 – 15, 2018 . 

Vallombrosa Center, Menlo Park, Complete information and registration for all events: americanpilgrims.org/national-gatherings. Things are filling very fast!


1#12. Nifty Ninety: As I mentioned in the January newsletter, Ralph and I are embarking on a new challenge, the “Nifty Ninety Peaks” as thrown out by the Sierra Club Bay Chapter. I’ve resurrected my blog to write about our progress so far and why I think it would be a fun and worthwhile goal for local hikers. We’ve now completed 14 of them and it’s turning out to be a great excuse to plan hikes with friends. backpack45.blogspot.com/2018/02/nifty-ninety-our-new-challenge.html has more info. 


#13. Regional:  East Bay Regional Park District: Healthy Parks Healthy People. Trails Challenge 2018. Trails Challenge is celebrating its 25th Anniversary! Every year more than 10,000 people use this FREE self-guided program to explore our regional parks and to keep fit outdoors. The free printed Guide Book and T-Shirt are available at participating Visitor Centers or the EBRPD administration office, while supplies last. No Registration is needed to participate. Simply pick-up or download the Guidebook and get started! The Guidebook includes detailed trail descriptions for hikes in 20 Regional Parks or Trails. Hikes range from easy to challenging. There are trails open to hikers, bicyclists, dogs, and equestrians, and many are wheelchair accessible. To complete the challenge, hike five of the trails – or 26.2 miles of trails.


NEW! All 20 featured trails are now available on the AllTrails app. First download the free app, sign-up and log in, then go to https://www.alltrails.com/lists/trails-challenge-2018 and click on “Copy to my lists”, followed by "Continue in App". The featured trails will show under 'Lists' in 'Plan'. 

The app indicates where you are on the trail, enabling easy return to the trail if you stray from it. You can also record your hikes, and share your photos, comments etc. with others.


Buen Camino/Pleasant hiking/Tale care!

Susan Alcorn aka Backpack 45

Susan Alcorn’s Backpacking & Hiking Tales and Tips #228, January 2018

Contents: 

Late Breaking News: Healing Miles now out on Kindle

  1. Earlier feats on the John Muir Trail
  2. Camino de Santiago 2017 statistics
  3. Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo
  4. Peaceable Kingdom launches new Camino support project
  5. Reminder: dates of national Pilgrim Gathering
  6. Checkpoint and the G2G 2018?
  7. New Year’s Resolutions
  8. My intention for 2018 – Ninety Nifty Peaks
  9. Regional Events, S.F. Bay Area

Articles: 

2#1. Setting records on the John Muir Trail. Nowadays, when one sets a record for being the oldest, youngest, or fastest person to complete a major trail—or achieves another exceptional goal such as climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan even though quadriplegic or blind or in some other way greatly challenged—we hear or read about it in minutes. This has not always been the case. 

Back in the day, people also did amazing things—and they didn’t always get noticed in the manner that they now do. And sometimes we forget that the current crop of hikers, runners, climbers, etc. have probably benefited from those who came before. New, better and lighter equipment is available, for the most part trails have been improved or better marked, alternate routes have been discovered. 

I love this story sent by reader Dick Ryon of Livermore, CA.

"I never fail to bring up a friend's incredible journey on the John Muir Trail when the opportunity arises. I forget how long ago, maybe in the early 1970’s, my friend Larry Marino ran the John Muir trail, unassisted, without caches, in 5 days. I no longer remember the exact time, hours and minutes. He was so fatigued at the end that he did not recognize his wife and ran past her at Happy Isles in Yosemite at the conclusion of his run. As far as I know, there are no references to his amazing achievement. (This took place way before the internet.) Larry died a few years later in a bicycling accident, going from Los Alamos to Santa Fe, NM. Larry and fellow mountaineer - physicist Jim Wilson and a couple others also skied the John Muir trail together in winter." 


[ed.] I like reporting firsts, fastest, youngest achievements, in much the same way I enjoy the Olympics—seeing what the human body is capable of doing. However, even though I needed weeks to complete the John Muir Trail and months to complete the Pacific Crest Trail, I still consider it a huge personal victory and accomplishment. Anyone doing major miles on our grand trails is a winner in my book! -- photo from Mt. Whitney summit. 


#2. The Pilgrimage to Santiago – 2017 statistics. According the Pilgrim Office in Santiago de Compostela, 301,036 people received Compostelas for having traveled on foot, the required minimum 60 miles (100 kilometers) or by bicycle or on horseback 120 miles (200 km). You can find much more detail online at https://oficinadelperegrino.com/en/pilgrims-reception-office/, but a few stats: just over half were men (50.88%), just under were females (49.12%). The greatest number, 25.54%, started their walk at Sarria (at the 100 km. point); in second place was St. Jean Pied du Port (500-mile point) with 11.41%. Most took the Camino Francés (60.04%), followed by the Portuguese route, the Ingles, the Via de la Plata, Norte (3.35%), the Primitivo (2.90 %). 17,522 were from the U.S. 


#3. Related to item #2. Please keep in mind that if you want a less-crowded, somewhat more challenging, alternative route to the Camino Francés, consider picking up a copy of my new book, Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo. These two routes are beautiful! It’s now available in soft cover and will be out on Kindle shortly.https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Miles-Gifts-Caminos-Primitivo/dp/0936034068 or your local bookstore can order it from Ingram.


#4. Rebekah Scott and her husband Patrick live in Moratinos, a tiny village near the Camino Francés. If you should happen to meet them while on the way, you would soon learn that they are doers, not slackers. Rebekah and Paddy, as you may recall, organize a small group of volunteers called the Ditch Pigs that goes out each year to clean up trash left by walkers (and others) alongside the Camino route. 


Here’s her latest project: “Welcome to the Peaceable Projects newsletter. 2018 and the launch of something beautiful. It's a new year, a new look, and a brand-new Camino-based non-profit dedicated to keeping charity alive on the Camino Ways to Santiago. We're launched! Arching over the InterWebz, and you´re first in line for the fun! 

Go right now to www.peaceableprojects.org … and nose around the splendid new Peaceable Projects Inc. website. You´ll see familiar places and faces and learn what´s happening now in Moratinos: learn of our new projects for 2018, see where your contributions are going, and ponder opportunities to join the activity… all in one online location. It´s engineered for SmartPhones, IPads, and on-the-move media as well as big, clunky computers like mine… so check it out while it´s hot! 


Sign up on the site for updates like this one, so you never miss a thing. 

Rebekah

Our mailing address is: peaceable projects, Calle Antanon 2, Camino de Santiago, Moratinos, Palencia 34349, Spain. Email: rebekah scott <peaceableprojects@gmail.com"


#5. Reminder: The National Gathering of APOC is approaching. American Pilgrims on the Camino hosts an annual Gathering of Pilgrims. The Gathering is an opportunity to share experiences, to support one another and to learn more about the Camino and pilgrimage experience.

The 2018 Gathering’s theme is “Making Meaning from Memories. There are three parts to the gathering:

Tuesday, April 10 - Thursday, April 12, 2018 . Hospitalero Training. Location to be announced and more information available this month on registration.

Wednesday, April 11 - Thursday, April 12, 2018 . 2nd Annual Chapter Coordinators’ Workshop, Vallombrosa Center

Thursday, April 12 - Sunday, April 15, 2018 , Vallombrosa Center, Menlo Park, California

Complete information and registration for all events will be available January 2018


1#6. Checkpoint and the G2G 2018? For those who just can’t let an opportunity go by for a huge challenge, check out the information on the Grand 2 Grand Ultra-2018 event and the Mauna to Mauna Ultra -2019 (Hawaii’s big island). The G2G event is 273 km, 6 stages, over 7 days. It’s from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the top of the Grand Staircase (Arizona to Utah). Dates are  September 23 – 29, 2018 . “Registration for G2G 2018 is still open and entries are being received with country quotas filling fast. See the link to the competitor list below.” 


The M2M is 250 km, 6 stages, 7 days. September Pre-registration for M2M 2019 is open and the planned date for the event is May 2019! Pre-registrants will be given priority when formal registration opens in a few months from now. info@g2gultra.com or check their Facebook pages.  (photo by Susan Alcorn: Southwest sunset).


#7. New Year’s Resolutions and Intentions: As most of us have learned, New Year’s Resolutions are hard to keep. This doesn’t mean they can’t work, but statistically they usually don't. Forbes Magazine gives hints on how to be successful. First of all, why do they fail? “#1. Ambiguous Terms.” Saying you want to “Get Organized” is not particularly helpful. Stating that you “will not allow clutter on your desk” just might.  Setting “#2. Overly Ambitious Goals” is another way to set yourself up for failure. If you can’t presently walk a mile, saying that you will run the Grand 2 Grand this year might not work. How about saying that you will add 10% to the distance you presently can walk or run and consistently doing it? “3. Lack Of A Strategy” is their third tenet. Instead of a vague “I’ll walk no matter what,” consider how you could make this real. Do you need to buy a new rain jacket? Do you need to find a hiking partner? Do you need to modify the goal to make it realistic, “I’ll walk when I am not on a plane to Australia? I’ll walk unless I have dental surgery planned. I’ll walk every day except the anticipated day of my granddaughter’s birth. In other words—give yourself a bit of wiggle room, but stop yourself from making such excuses as “the laundry needs to be done,” or “I partied too late last night.” 


#8. Susan and Ralph set a new goal; it's an intention, not a resolution! A few years back I interviewed a local hiker and photographer, David Sanger, who had taken on what I thought was an interesting project. He had set out to climb a local hill, mountain, or high point every day for a month. But, after the month was over, he kept going…and going. He no longer goes out daily, but he has continued with his personal challenge and has climbed and photographed well over 100. https://www.mercurynews.com/2015/02/27/bagging-peaks-a-step-at-a-time/


Recently I found an article, entitled “Nifty Ninety Peaks,” in our local Sierra Club chapter’s newsletter, and I was intrigued. These high points are all in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be reached by day hiking. And, so this has become Ralph’s and my latest goal. The rules are simple—do the peaks, send in the dates, receive a bumper sticker. There’s no time limit for doing them. Just as with most trails, it’s self-reported. There are no “peak police.”  Ralph and I have already done some of the peaks, so we have started with the peaks we have not done. 


I know that many of our readers don’t live in the Bay Area so this list won’t help you much, but my suggestion is that you keep your eye out for a new personal challenge that might provide some extra motivation to get out there and keep exploring. https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce-authors/u1054/Nifty%2090.pdf


#9. Regional: Wrap up of Bay Area happenings. The John Muir Land Trust, which focuses primarily on the Mt. Diablo area, has new trail maps available to the Fernandez Ranch and Carr Ranch. Jmlt.org.

East Bay Regional Parks is kicking off their annual Trails Challenge (the 25th anniversary). Participants are challenged to walk at least five featured trails, or 26.2 miles. Maps and featured trail information is available www.ebparks.org starting today (Jan. 4). Free tee shirts are available, while supplies last, at some visitor centers. Registration is not required; you keep your own records and submit them when you are finished. 

Save Mount Diablo has a new trail map of the Diablo Trail, a 30-mile multi-use trail, available. You can get a copy at one of their events or email smdinfo@savemountdiablo.org.  

Sierra Club Bay Chapter has numerous hikes coming up such as “Muir Woods/Steep Ravine 3C loop hike.” (Marin County) Rain cancels. Meet  9:15 am.  at Mountain Home trailhead. Ends  5 pm.  Moderate pace, but not for beginners. Leader: Bob Solotar. 510-525-2110 or bob_solotar@hotmail.com

Northern California Pilgrim walks: The first Saturday of each month walks around Lake Merritt continue. On January 6, the 3.3 mile walk will be followed by an optional Lunch & "Wayfaring" Film Screening. Meet for the walk at the pergola of Lake Merritt, Oakland at  10:30 am

3On Saturday, January 13, 2018, 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM. San Francisco, California. Lands End Hike & Labyrinth Walk. “Welcome the New Year with the Northern California Chapter with a hike and labyrinth walk at the end of the world! This 12-mile loop route starts at the historic Beach Chalet building at Ocean Beach. This year we're reversing the course. We'll walk through Golden Gate Park, on a short section through city streets, then through the forested Presidio, by Andy Goldsworthy's Spire. At the Golden Gate Bridge, we'll enjoy fresh sea air and sweeping views of the ocean and Marin Headlands. Next we'll follow the rugged coast heading south and walk the Lands End Labyrinth. We'll continue along the coastal Lands End Trail to the Cliff House and end back at the Beach Chalet building, where we'll cool our heels and have a casual bite at the Park Chalet Restaurant. Reservations are required if you are eating with the group at Park Chalet. Please email Stephanie atsdodaro@gmail.comsdodaro@gmail.com with number in your party by Thursday, January 11. RSVP not required if you’re just doing the hike.

"Please refer to the American Pilgrims - Northern California Chapter page for more information, event updates or cancellations." 


Labyrinth at Lands End by Susan Alcorn


Happy New Year!

Susan “backpack45” Alcorn

. I’d love to include your success stories and other items of interest with the hiking/backpacking and Camino communities. I encourage you to send them to me at backpack45@yahoo.com for consideration.
Susan “backpack45” Alcorn

 All Newsletters 2018 , 2017 , 2016 , 2015 , 2014 , 2013 , 2012 , 2011 , 2010 , 2009 , 2008 , 2007 , 2006 , 2005 , 2004

Emma Gatewood first hiked the entire 2160 mile Appalachian Trail at the age of 67.  She last hiked it at the age of 76.

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