The Northern California chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino organized a hike at Redwood Park in the Oakland Hills on December 12th, 2015. Mother nature gave us a break between the storms during our much anticipated El Niño winter. We had early morning fog, typical of the Bay Area, which cleared to blue skies and sunshine. But then again, a little rain could never stop the hearty souls of those who love to hike.
Most hikers in the group brought trekking poles, but I don’t have a pair yet. As luck would have it, Cathy Seitchik Diaz happened to have an extra pair that she let me borrow. After walking nearly eight miles, I am sold on using trekking poles! There were steep inclines on the muddy trail, and I was definitely more steady using the poles. I could feel my arms taking some of the load off my knees on both uphill and downhill runs. Cathy uses and recommends the poles from Costco. As much as I love REI, I balked at the $180+ price of the poles they sell. I found the Costco poles, Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles, on Amazon for $40.
Cathy also showed us the water system that she and Dave used on their Camino. Behold, the Blue Desert SmarTube Hydration System!
This clever invention fits in regular water bottles and allows the convenience of sipping while hiking without having to remove your water bottle from your backpack. Brilliant! A few months ago I tried an Osprey backpack with a three-liter hydration bladder. It was so awkward that I could not imagine refilling it from a quaint little Spanish fountain.
Another savvy peregrina recommended making a color copy of your passport and laminating it. Why? To show while checking into albergues so you don’t have to dig out (or wear out) your passport. Pilgrims really do look out for each other. More evidence: When it comes to picnicking, most people like to share food with fellow pilgrims. When we all sat down for our lunch break, I announced a secret I’d been carrying and could no longer keep to myself. Behold, Le Secret de Compostelle, a sheep milk cheese from the Basque region of Spain:
Well, I didn’t carry this whole wheel, although it would have been an excellent test for me and my Camino backpack. I bought a wedge of this from peregrino Matthew Toy, who works at the Cheese Board Collective in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. (Matt also wrote a Preparedness guide for the Camino, which I look forward to reading.) This special cheese with all the Camino symbols tastes as good as it looks!
After our lunch break, we enjoyed walking the level Stream Trail with its majestic redwoods, ferns, mushrooms, and, lucky for us, a swarm of ladybugs!
Now to the nitty gritty of our hike. I used the Map My Hike App on my iPhone to track our hike. Click here or on the image to see more details.
This was my second NorCal group hike and it was as much fun as the first! See A Heavenly Day at Angel Island. I met more people who are planning their first Camino too. Special thanks to Rennie Archibald & Maggie for showing us the way and sharing that delicious empanada!
See you on the trail!