Camino and Hiking Events: March 2020

Hola peregrinos! There’s a lot of great events this month including our annual shell ceremony with breakouts on different Camino routes (CANCELLED), a Pilgrim Talk on Le Puy route (CANCELLED), and a hike to Mt. Tam (CANCELLED).

Update: as of March 16, 2020, the SF Bay Area is locked down under the shelter-in-place order to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

Learn how to score a pair of yoga pants with an “EZPee” zipper. Plus, support International House and I’ll add your name to my Peregrino Donativo Wall of Gratitude list below. Thanks for your support!

Lake Merritt Walk
Saturday, March 7th, 10:30 AM – 12 PM

Join our popular and easy walk that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. Meet at the Pergola (aka “The Columns”) on the east side of Oakland’s Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and start walking by 10:45 AM. It’s a level, 3.3-mile walk around the lake that takes about an hour. Whether you’re a newbie or Camino veteran, everyone is welcome.  Bring your questions, answers and pilgrim spirit! But leave the dogs at home (for insurance purposes.)  If you’re on the NorCal Facebook group, join event: Lake Merritt Walk.  As always, we encourage carpools, public transportation, and Lyft or Uber as parking is limited in the area on Saturdays.

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Distance Hikes Make the Heart Grow Fonder

By Lorie Florence

The first time I went on a long distance backpack hike with my husband Mark, I had to sit down and have a long cry. It was hard, hot, and a little scary. I missed my kids, and my comforts. All we did all day was walk – up hills, up mountains, across sketchy, loose, scree-covered narrow trails. Mark just kept walking, and I just kept trailing along. But by the end of the week, I had decided it was not so bad. The stars were beautiful at night, I was met by a dazzling sunrise each morning, and we had long hours of just being together without interruptions, which was priceless.

Mark & Lorie Florence's first trip in 2008

Our first hike on the Pacific Crest Trail

I followed my husband, walked alongside him, and even sometimes led him, as we hiked a section of the Pacific Crest Trail each summer. I became more and more accustomed to it, and even got to the point where I looked forward to our trips into the wilderness. I came to cherish the quiet days we walked together through pure nature- flowing streams, towering trees, pure blue skies, and solitude. Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events: February 2020

Hello all.  I’m sending this a few days early as we have our monthly walk on Sat. Feb. 1st. Other highlights this month:  TWO Pilgrim talks at Berkeley libraries (wellness and Kumano Kodo), Camino 101 packing at Sacramento REI, and Basic Spanish for the Camino. Skip to these events.

It’s an exciting time in the Bay Area as many of us will be watching the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.  We’ll also be celebrating my birthday, which falls on Super Bowl Sunday.  For my birthday wish, I am asking friends and family to support a  fundraiser for the non-profit I work at.  International House at UC Berkeley is home to nearly 600 students from over 75 different countries. Our mission is to promote peace, friendship and cultural understanding through programs, leadership training, and the simple act of living together under one roof.  I have worked at International House for 15 years now and see how gifts to I-House make a big difference in the lives of deserving students.  You can help kick start our annual Big Give fundraiser by making a donation of $10 or more at 

Optional patches: I have a personal goal to exceed what I raised last year, so I’ll give a Camino Provides patch to any pilgrim who donates $20 or more in honor of my birthday for the month of February. Just follow the steps below, email me your donation confirmation, and I’ll send you a patch! Want a few patches? For every increment of $20, I’ll send an additional patch to thank you for your support. Yes, patches can be purchased for $4 each on Etsy, but for my birthday month, I’m offering them to the VIPs who donate via the steps below. So, consider being part of something BIG and helping me raise some money for a great cause!

1. Go to:
2. Enter $ amount, click Continue.
3. Click Browse List. Make sure you click the Programs button!
4. Choose a Program, scroll to > International House
5. Choose a Giving Opportunity, scroll to > The Fund for I-House
6. Follow the prompts
to make your secure gift.
7. If you want a patch, email me your donation confirmation and let me know what style (Original, 2019, or 2020) See patch options.

Donors of $100 or more will be listed in the I-House Times newsletter, but gifts of all sizes are greatly appreciated! This donativo opportunity can help deserving students at UC Berkeley.  More reasons and ways to give are listed at

Thanks for your support!  And now, back to our regular programming. 🙂

Below is the Camino and Hiking events roundup for February.

Lake Merritt Jan 2020

Lake Merritt walk – January 2020

Lake Merritt Walk + Optional Lunch
Saturday, February 1st, 10:30 AM – 12 PM

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Surviving the Camino With Your Spouse

The idea of walking the Camino as a couple could be enchanting to some people, but daunting to others. Whatever the case, this topic is something to contemplate for all couples who are thinking about walking a Camino.  The following post was adapted from a chapter in Andy Cohn’s e-book, The Camino de Santiago – An Introduction to the Ways of the Way, where, in his words, “I try to answer the questions I had myself—or should have had—had it ever occurred to me to think about what we were getting into.”

Surviving the Camino With Your Spouse
by Andy Cohn

I do love my wife, but 24/7 for a month? Could be a stretch (especially for her) . . . 

So, if you’re setting off with your spouse, and hope to return together—in one piece, no less—you might want to avail yourself of these crucial coping strategies: 

1. Walk at different speeds. This, of course, is the best way to not be together 24/7. But there’s a technique to it. One spouse can’t be faster all the time. Otherwise, you start playing psychological one-up games, and we know where that leads . . .

Nor can you just pretend to be slower or faster. Then you’re patronizing your spouse. So you have to find the organic way of separating yourselves. In our case, this was easy, since Kate is descended from mythological Greek creatures who were half mountain goat. Thus, she dominated on the hills with ease, but with her short mountain goat legs, she ceded control to me on the flats.

So—we start out together:

Andy Cohn and Kate Stewart on the Chemin de Le Puy

But in the middle, there goes Kate… Continue reading

Favorite Snacks for Hiking the Camino de Santiago

We’ve all been there. You find yourself overreacting to something that normally wouldn’t bother you. Your hiking buddies suddenly become annoying. The day’s walk seems like it will never end. Your stomach is growling, and so are you.

You’ve reached the state of being both hungry and angry, or hangry.

Hangry Girl graphic

HANGRY (noun)
A state of anger caused by a lack of food. May evoke negative change in emotional state.

This unfortunate state can happen anytime, but having low blood sugar can make or break your Camino experience. Take control of the situation by always having snacks with you. Below are are my top favorites that I have found are both easy to eat and easy to procure along the Camino de Santiago routes in Spain. Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events: January 2020

Happy New Year!  And as we roll into a new decade, I’m hopeful that 2020 will bring more justice, peace, and compassion into this world. In the meantime, it’s Camino training season. Below are a selection of Camino events and hikes in Northern California. But first, a quick reminder to have your 12 lucky grapes ready for midnight so you can celebrate the way some Spaniards do on New Year’s Eve.  For each strike of the bell, eating a green grape is said bring good luck every month of the coming year.

12 GrapesEating 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve is both a tradition and a superstition in Spain.

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Camino-Inspired Gift Ideas 2019

Hola amigos! ‘Tis the season to share a selection of Camino-inspired gifts for the holidays. There are offerings from pilgrims who have been so inspired by the Camino that they have created books, customized maps, music, and more. New this year, a few things that pilgrims crave: Camino beer, Jamón Serrano, and Tarta de Santiago. Add them to your shopping list and you will be set for your upcoming fiestas and pilgrim gatherings. I’m also happy to announce that the Camino patches for 2020 finally arrived and are pictured at the end of this post. So, browse the gifts for the pilgrims on your list, and perhaps pick something out for yourself. You’ve been a good pilgrim all year, haven’t you? If not, I won’t tell St. Nick, or St. James.  😉

Custom Camino Maps

‘A Road To Santiago’ creates one-of-a-kind custom Camino maps showing the village names, custom text in the header, choice of decorations, optional photos and trail profiles. Custom Camino Maps

These 24″ x 36″  or 18″ x 24″ custom maps are a great memory piece.  Starting at $55 for the digital-only version and $80 and up for printed, rolled and shipped versions.  For more details, go to These are very customizable by a graphics designer – many options available. Designed, printed and shipped within a week.

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Camino and Hiking Events in December 2019

Winter is a time to slow down and enjoy the holidays with family, but it is also a great time to train for the Camino. I have found that the climate in Galicia in springtime is similar to that in Northern California—a wild mix of rain, wind, fog, and sunshineso you can test your own endurance along with your rain gear.  This month, Bay Area pilgrims can join chapter socials, presentations, trekking poles workshop, a winter solstice hike, and a Flamenco show. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays & Buen Camino

Sacramento Social: Stocking Stuffers, Pilgrim Office, and 10×10s, Oh My!
Thursday, December 5th, 7 –  9 PM

Join the Sacramento Chapter at the Arden Dimick Library’s Community Room for a full evening of Camino camaraderie! Continue reading

Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving

Every fall, our chapter hosts a gathering of pilgrims as a “welcome home” celebration, complete with a potluck, special presentation, and pilgrims’ story hour. It’s a nice way for pilgrims to mingle and share stories among those who can relate. Let’s face it, some of our friends and family won’t ever understand the appeal of the Camino. That’s okay, because we have our own special Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving, minus the turkey and the drama!

Jamon Slicing We Americans like turkey on Thanksgiving, but pilgrims love jamón serrano on potluck day! Bryan Winter brought us right back to Spain with this jamón, sliced to perfection! Bravo! Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events in November 2019

Hola, peregrinos.  Below is the roundup of Camino events and hikes in the SF Bay Area.

Packing for your pilgrimage walk on the Camino de Santiago
7:00 PM  –  8:30 PM
Berkeley REI

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 Berkeley event on Nov. 6, 2019

It’s an honor to be co-presenting with Susan Alcorn. She wrote the first book I read about the Camino, Camino Chronicle, and has a great website and monthly newsletter.  A few years ago, Susan wrote a guest post, Love and Life on the Camino, which is featured on my Love, Camino Style page.

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