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!

Pro tip: you can purchase a Jamón Serrano at Costco or

Potluck Spread

NorCal pilgrims love bringing Spanish tapas, tarta de Santiago, and vino to potlucks, along with the traditional potluck fare.

Kenny, Laurin, Emilio

Kenny, Laurin, and Emilio enjoyed catching up.

The feedback from our previous surveys showed that story sharing is the favorite aspect of this event. This year, we scheduled this activity before lunch so that people can introduce themselves as they share their story. And instead of coaxing the stories out table-by-table, pilgrims lined up for their chance to speak at the microphone. Even the shyest pilgrims participated! We enjoyed listening to each pilgrim’s heartfelt, personal, and at times, hilarious story.  It is clear that people are grateful for this Camino thing. Despite the three-minute time limit each person had, we ran overtime, so I wasn’t able to share my story, but see below! *

Where Did We Walk?

Guy Joaquin kicked off the event with opening remarks.

More friendships were sparked in the potluck line and during lunch, as well as in the group photos and hospitalero presentation that followed. I believe this story-sharing tradition is as essential a ritual as the shell blessing for departing pilgrims that we host each spring. If your local community doesn’t already have a welcome home event, start small at a café or someone’s home. Perhaps next year you can find a larger venue such as a park, church, library, community center, or restaurant. Don’t let your Caminos pass by without honoring and celebrating them with your fellow pilgrims.

Below is a 3.5-minute video of event highlights.

Below are a few more photos of the event from my NorCal chapter friends Merula Furtado, Guy Joaquin, and me.

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Just like in our 2017 and 2018  welcome home events, we ended our welcome home gathering with a recitation of the poem, Caminante by Antonio Machado, in both Spanish and English.

by Antonio Machado

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.

English translation:

Pilgrim, your footsteps are
the camino, and nothing more;
Pilgrim, there is no camino,
the camino is made by walking.
By walking you make the camino,
and in glancing back
you see the path
you will never walk again.
Pilgrim, there is no camino,
only waves on the sea.

* Thanks to everyone who participated in making it such a wonderful event.

I was so busy behind the scenes that I didn’t have a chance to share my story, so here goes: In May 2019, I walked the Camino Invierno from Ponferrada, a less-trodden alternative to the Camino Francés. I was a curiosity as a woman walking alone—some stages are very long and lack traditional pilgrim services. I didn’t see another pilgrim until the third day! I met more locals, spoke more Spanish, and had more time to work things out in my mind. It tested my fortitude in many ways, but was exactly what I needed. The kindness of strangers is what I remember most from this Camino. Strangers that became my Camino Family. I am thankful for each step along the Winter Way.

If you need more guidance returning from the Camino,  check out the video presentation, Returning Home: The Journey Continues from the  2018 welcome home event.

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and safe travels, wherever you may be!

PS: Artists, writers, crafters, and creatives: I plan to publish my annual Camino-Inspired Gifts for the Holidays soon. I’m a little delayed, but there’s still time if you’d like to submit something created in the last year, email me at  Please include a brief blurb, price,  one image, and a link for more details.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, see last year’s post.

I look forward to seeing what you all have created this year, and sharing the Camino love! ❤️

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.

Continue reading

Cultivating Camino Community

For us pilgrims, the Camino community at home is often a necessity to keep the spirit alive throughout the year. Our chapter’s 2nd annual St. James Day Celebration in Piedmont, California, was a great example of how pilgrims come together to cultivate community. As a chapter coordinator, I find this annual event is my favorite to organize, not just because it takes place in my neighborhood parish. Rather, it has become a meaningful way to honor the reason for the pilgrimage, celebrate with friends, provide a blessing to departing pilgrims, and to introduce St. James to those who are curious.

It was a joy to bring both of my communities—parish and pilgrims—together for this special evening. The first part of the event was tailored for our pilgrim community with a potluck dinner and chapter announcements. I swear, our potlucks keep getting better each time!

There were Camino-inspired dishes, wine, tapas, paellas, caldo de Galicia, and of course, the superstar of the occasion, Tarta de Santiago. There were a few, actually! Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events in October 2019

Happy Fall! I am excited to share some upcoming Camino events in the Bay Area.

Lake Merritt Walk + Camino Packing Presentation
Saturday, October 5th
Oakland, CA

Lake Merritt Walk
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. Stay for the presentation at the Lakeview Library (details below).

Presentation: Camino 101: Packing
1 – 2 PM

Join the Northern California Chapter for a presentation led by Camino veteran Rob Nickerson at the Lakeview Branch of the Oakland Public Library. We’ll continue our educational series with a presentation on packing that includes a gear panel of experienced pilgrims. Whether you’re a first-timer or seasoned veteran, you’re sure to pick up invaluable info, tips and tricks for your next Camino!

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Camino and Hiking Events in September 2019

See below for the lineup of Camino-related events and hikes in September.

Lake Merritt Walk + Camino Presentation
Saturday, September 7th
Oakland, CA

Lake Merritt Walk
10:30 AM – 12 PM

As usual, first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. Meet at the Lake Merritt Pergola.

Presentation: Camino Basics: Everything you need to know to start planning a walk on the Camino de Santiago
1 – 2 PM

Join the Northern California Chapter for a presentation by Camino veteran Rob Nickerson at the Lakeview Branch of the Oakland Public Library.

New to the Camino de Santiago and don’t know where to start? Been around a while but still have questions? Just curious about the Camino? Then this presentation is for you. In one hour we will cover all the basics about the Camino.

Continue reading

Support Camino Cleanup

I am happy to share a special guest post by Camino angel and bestselling author Karin Kiser.

Support Camino Cleanup

During my first Camino in 2011, I was disheartened by the amount of trash I saw along the route. I was determined to play a part in leaving the Camino in better condition than when I found it. Unfortunately, for all my good intentions, the last thing I wanted to do while walking all day fully loaded with a backpack and trekking poles was stop and collect some rubbish. Bending down with a full pack seemed a Herculean task. So my cleanup efforts were limited to areas where I was already resting without the load of backpack.

Last year when I was volunteering in Galicia, I was finally free of the backpack and could begin to pick up trash in earnest. During those two-weeks I took responsibility for the 3 km stretch on either side of the albergue and rounded up a dozen bags of waste.

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St. James Day Presentation in Piedmont, CA

I’m happy to announce the 2nd annual St. James Day Celebration held at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Piedmont, California.  This year, we are honored to have guest speaker Alexander Shaia give a thought-provoking presentation on the topic:

St James: The Despairing Evangelist Who Becomes An Inspiring Pilgrim –  A Story for Today

Have you walked, or ever had the calling to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain? One of the three major Christian pilgrimages together with Rome and Jerusalem, the Camino follows various ancient paths to the tomb of St James located in the crypt of the Santiago Cathedral. Santiago de Compostela is in the province of Galicia, Spain’s Northwest corner.

Alexander ShaiaJoin the Northern California Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino for a special presentation by Alexander John Shaia, internationally sought speaker, author and guide who annually mentors a small band of pilgrims walking the Camino.

Alexander will give an overview of St. James’ life and spirituality as well as speak of pilgrimage as a contemporary rite of passage and an extended practice of mindfulness. Alexander’s most recent book, Returning From Camino released (2018) in English, has already been translated into Spanish, German and Hungarian. It is the first book to address the spiritual and psychological needs of a pilgrim upon returning home.  Alexander’s books will be available for purchase (cash or credit card) after the talk, and he will be delighted to sign them. 

Presentation will be on Thursday, July 25, 2019, 8:00 – 9:30 PM
6:00 PM Potluck for Northern California pilgrims and guests  (Details have been sent to Northern California email subscribers)
7:45 PM Doors open to the public
8 – 9 PM – Presentation by Alexander Shaia, book signing to follow

RSVP required by July 24 at:
Or by emailing

322 St. James DrLocation:
Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Gibson Center
322 St. James Drive, Piedmont, CA 94611
A free parking lot is located at the Corpus Christi school behind the church at 1 Estates Drive. As always, we encourage carpools, public transportation and Lyft or Uber.

Share the event: Download St. James Day Presentation Flyer (PDF)

See latest books by Dr.  Shaia and learn about St. James Day special offers below.

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St. James Day Special: 7 patches for $25

It’s that time of year! 7 Camino patches for $25 and free shipping through July 25, 2019.

2019 Camino Provides Patches

Free shipping US (Reg $3.85)
Free shipping International (Reg $5.85)

Choose 2019 or original design (no date). You can mix and match! Just write quantity of each design in order note.

Order at:

About the patch: I design the patches to put on my own backpack and to share with other Camino enthusiasts. There has been a different patch for each year since 2016, and when they’re gone, they’re gone. I only do a special once a year. Continue reading

Camino and Hiking Events July – August

Dear Friends,

July is a special month for the Camino de Santiago. The Apostle James, the reason for the Camino pilgrimage, is celebrated throughout the world on July 25th, his designated saint’s day. In Santiago de Compostela, Saint James is honored in a spectacular way on July 24th, with fireworks and a multimedia show in the Praza do Obradoiro. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, our chapter offers unique events to celebrate St. James.  See below for the lineup of Camino-related events and hikes in July.

Lake Merritt Walk in Oakland – Every First Saturday
Saturday, July 6, 10:30 AM

Lake Merritt Walk June 2019

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.) Stay for lunch after the walk at a local restaurant, location TBD. If you’re on the NorCal Facebook group, join event.

Continue reading