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This page is devoted to calendars and hiking related events.

2019 Book and other Author Events


Wednesday, October 09, 2019. 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM; Corte Madera REI. Packing for the Camino Program
Tuesday, October 15, 2019. 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM. Oakley Library. Camino Norte and Primitivo Program
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. San Francisco Dinners, Sierra Club. Camino and Primitivo Program
Wednesday, October 23, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM. REI Concord, CA. Packing for the Camino
Wednesday, November 06, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM. Berkeley REI. Packing for the Camino


Oakley Library. Camino Norte and Primitivo Program. Hiking around the world! Active vacations have been a thing now for more than a decade, but what about major treks? Susan Alcorn and her husband Ralph are retirees who have made it their goal to keep active! They’ve hiked the great pilgrimage routes in Europe, the entire Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico to Canada), and summited Kilimanjaro at the age of 65/70. Come see some great pics, listen to fascinating travel stories, and learn how you too can participate in an active, outdoor life-style. Tuesday, October 15, 2019. 6:30 PM. 1050 Neroly Rd, Oakley, CA 94561.

Sierra San Francisco Club Dinner--Camino and Primitivo Program (more details below) Grace Lutheran Church, 3201 Ulloa St, San Francisco. Cost: $24 Signup Instructions: RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. To reserve, send a check for $24 made out to "Sierra Club, SF Bay Chapter" to: Gerry Souzis, 1801 California St., #405, San Francisco, CA 94109. On the check, please put the month of the dinner and the number of people you are paying for. Let us know if you want a vegetarian dinner. A phone number would be useful in case of some unexpected cancellation. It is most convenient for us to receive your check four days before the scheduled dinner. Bring: Bring your own wine or soft drinks. Glasses and ice are available.
Take Muni L to 32nd Ave., walk one block to 33rd, and turn left on Ulloa for one block. Street parking is also available.Social Hour: 6:00 PM, dinner: 7:00 PM, and program: 8:00 PM. For questions, contact Gerry between 4 and 9 PM (no morning calls please) at (415) 474-4440 or: Event Organizers: Gerry Souzis (415) 474-4440.

Packing for the Camino Program:. Laurie Ferris and Susan Alcorn will be giving a presentation about packing for your pilgrimage walk on the Camino de Santiago, at three Bay Area REI stores soon: Corte Madera on Wednesday, October 09, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM; Concord on Wednesday, October 23, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM; and Berkeley REI on Wednesday, November 06, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Packing for walking the Camino may seem overwhelming, but in this informative presentation by experienced Camino hikers Laurie Ferris and Susan Alcorn, you can put your concerns to rest. On their own Caminos, both have learned much about what to bring and what not to bring. They’ll discuss backpacks, clothing, shoes, sleeping gear, hiking poles, toiletries, and more. They’ll also talk about how to pack a backpack so that it’s most comfortable. Laurie and Susan are not in total agreement on what items are best to bring–and hope that new hikers will find it reassuring that there is no ONE right way–there are many right ways. They are in agreement about keeping the weight of your pack low and not packing based on fears.

Laurie Ferris is co-coordinator of the Northern CA chapter of American Pilgrims and has hiked the Camino Ingles, Portuguese, Primitivo, and Invierno routes. Susan Alcorn, author of two Camino books, has hiked the Frances, Norte, Primitivo, Portuguese and more.

Register for the REI Corte Madera event on Oct. 9, 2019

Register for the REI Concord event on Oct. 23, 2019

Register for the REI Berkeley event on Nov. 6, 2019

More Program Description: Caminos de Santiago in Spain: The Norte and Primitivo Routes

While the most popular route of the Camino de Santiago is the Frances, hikers are increasingly looking for a less crowded or a new route. The Caminos Norte and Primitivo are great choices. Susan and Ralph Alcorn, who hiked both in 2015-16, strongly recommend the entire 500 miles of Norte, and/or the 200 of the Primitivo. In their digital slide show, the Alcorns will give an overview of the Caminos Norte and Primitivo--the routes, elevations, accommodations. Who is hiking? How difficult is it? How to train? How to pack? What resources are available--apps or maps? Throughout, you'll enjoy images of the journey and get inspired to plan that trip of your own that you have been dreaming of. Susan is the author of the newly published, "Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo."

Note: We are very excited about these events; please mark your calendars and join us. REI events are free, but reservations are highly recommended.

Program Descripion for other Camino de Santiago Programs

Our Camino Frances program: Since 2001, independent travelers Susan and Ralph Alcorn have walked close to 3,000 miles through France, Portugal, and Spain following ancient pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, the reputed burial place of the disciple Saint James. Susan will give a digital presentation of their five-week trek along Spain’s most traveled route, the 500-mile Camino Frances from Roncesvalles to Santiago, and will share a few highlights of their days on pilgrimage paths in France. Come walk with Susan through quaint medieval towns in the high mountains of the Pyrenees, across the fertile red soils of the Rioja region, to the lush green Galician Hills. Following the program, Susan will sign copies of her book Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago was named a finalist for the prestigious Ben Franklin award for Best Travel Essay 2007. Awards were given by the PMA, Publishers Marketing Association, in New York City on May 31, 2007.

Our Pacific Crest Trail program: Not everyone has the time and inclination to thru-hike the entire 2,650 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), but many dream of hiking part of it. Others would like to do all of it--eventually, but how? When Ralph and I made our first hike on the PCT in 1989, it was really about climbing Mt. Whitney. We didn't plan to complete the JMT, much less the PCT, but after a few more Sierra trips, the bug took hold and we went on to complete both. We started doing two trips a year on the PCT--one in Southern California in early spring, and one in Northern California and points north in late summer. We continued doing 400 or so miles each year until, finally, in 2010, we made their final push and did our 400 miles through the Cascades in Washington.

We will give an overview of the PCT--such as the route, elevations, and resupply info. Who is hiking? How difficult is it? What resources are available (such as water reports)? They'll share tips and best practices. Throughout, you'll enjoy images of the journey. The goal is to help you plan and prepare for your own adventures--whether for sections of a few dozen miles or of a few hundred.


Susan is the author of Healing Miles: Gifts from the Caminos Norte and Primitivo, Patagonia Chronicle: On Foot in Torres del Paine, Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago, and We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers.

We are Bay Area residents. We are long-distance hikers who have section-hiked the entire 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, walked almost 3,000 miles of pilgrimage trails in Spain, France, and Portugal, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and completed the Circuit Trail in Torres del Paine, Chile.

If you are interested in hosting one of our programs, please contact us at

In March 2018, John Vonhof interviewed Susan about the Camino de Santiago and her books, focusing on Healing Miles. Listen to podcast at


Visit Susan's blog at where she discusses hiking, backpacking, the writing life, and what makes life so interesting and sweet.

Please check back for changes and updates. E-mail Susan at backpack45 "at sign" for more info on events.

Podcast with Aaron Richardson at

For bookstore readings, backpacking clinics, Pacific Crest Trail, John Muir Trail, Patagonia and Camino de Santiago slide presentations contact Shepherd Canyon Books at 510-339-3441. Out of the San Francisco Bay Area presentations will be considered.

Feedback from Event Planners

7/2016: Updating work soon!

April 23, 2008

Dear Susan, On behalf of the Sonora Branch of AAUW, I want to thank you for your wonderful presentation to our group. ...I heard glowing reports about your photos and the description of your journey across Spain.  Everyone really enjoyed it.

Sincerely,  Sue Osborn

January 31, 2008 Thank you so much for coming to our branch and giving your wonderful lecture on traveling the Camino! Honestly! My only goal was to provide good adult programming to our community and now I find myself ready to go on a trip of my own.  All because of your inspiring lecture and beautiful slides! Thanks again for being a bright spot in our dreary January and for being such an excellent kick-off to our series of adult programs. Sarah Spindle and the Ygnacio Valley Library staff (Walnut Creek, CA)

Free Hiking Newsletter: To receive Susan's backpacking/hiking newsletter, send a message to backpack45 "at sign" In the newsletter, there are always trail tips and information, notices of upcoming hikes and gatherings, and news of interest to the hiking community. After a long-distance hike, you'll find a write-up of our experiences and summaries of those trips are archived on this website under "Monthly Newsletter."   

Archived on-line Podcast (trailcast #26, dated April 5, 2006) on Robert Butler's website: Susan Alcorn describes her process of writing about women's backpacking for her book We're in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers, and the hikes she and Ralph have completed that have gone into her upcoming book, Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago.

KPFA "Cover to Cover" interview: Author Susan Alcorn interviewed by Denny Smithson, May 24, 2004. Go to and check Denny's archived programs.

Other events to enjoy:


If you would like to be on Susan's e-mail list to receive her monthly newsletter with backpacking tips and news, send an e-mail message to: backpack45* (Important: substitute a @ for the * in the e-mail address.)

Susan's blog, which has hiking related topics, but also her musings, is at

Photo hiking related events:>

California Wildflower blooming schedule - the website has a lot of things besides wildflowers - photo tips, fall colors calendar, various how to photo topics, but look here for Antelope Valley poppy display times, San Francisco regional park current reports on wildflowers, much more

The website for the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve near Lancaster, California is  The poppy season is generally mid-March to mid-May; the reserve is open year round sunrise to sunset. The visitor center is open during the poppy season.

Wildflower Bloom Information Poppy Reserve Wildflower Hotline: (661) 724-1180
Theodore Payne Foundation Wildlflower Hotline: (818) 768-3533

San Francisco Bay Area Local Pilgrim Gatherings:

For current local pilgrim events:

Outings and hiking related Events. This section is being updated! Check back soon!

Suggestion: When considering a hike with a group, contact the hike leader to find out his/her pace and focus so that you will know it's a good match with your interests.

The Sierra Club has free or low cost local hikes throughout the year. To find your region and hiking calendars, click on Sierra Club Regional Outings.  For the San Francisco Bay area Sierra Club and other local hiking clubs click on Sierra Club SF Hiking, or San Francisco Bay Area Hiker.S.F. is a good place to find links to hiking websites both in the U.S. and abroad. Updates regularly. Regional: S.F. Bay Area women who enjoy hiking with a congenial group have many opportunities: Women on Common Ground (women only) hikes are sponsored by East Bay Regional Park District and led by naturalist Katie Colbert. Dates, places, and times vary. Reservations required, contact: or 925-862-2601.  EBRPD also offers Wednesday walks (open to all ages and abilities); obtain a flyer by calling 510-796-0199.

Diablo Hiking Club (Pleasant Hill Recreation) offers day hikes and ski trips (Sierra). Some members are interested in finding backpacking partners. Contact:, E-mail, or board member Ellen Salassi (925) 229-3313 for further information.

The East Bay Casual Hikers is an informal co-ed group of adults who meet regularly to go hiking. Their hikes are generally 3-9 miles in length, or 2-4 hours, on public trails in the Contra Costa Country area. Their website also has an extensive listing of other Bay Area hiking groups. Also contact: Jon Bondon (925) 210-2242 or email: This website lists where-to-hike info for the San Francisco Bay Area. has a series of guided hikes that let you complete the TRT over the course of the summer. The website also lists a number of good day hikes. Something like 20 hikes and backpacks are scheduled annually.

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

Page Changed: February 1, 2020 16:20

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