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.

Sacramento Chapter Shell Ceremony & Potluck
Saturday, March 7, 6-9 PM

Join the Sacramento Chapter for their 4th Annual Shell Ceremony and Potluck.  First time walkers come meet others who’ve walked this path before.  A definite highlight of the evening will be receiving your shell, symbol of the pilgrimage to Santiago. Returnees, come share your stories, your experience … and inspire those getting ready for this journey! Hosted by Sacramento Pilgrims.
DETAILS and REGISTRATION for the evening  are contained in this link.

Annual Gathering of Pilgrims
Honoring the Past… Welcoming the Future

Thursday, March 12 – Sunday, March 15, 2020
Zephyr Point Conference Center
Zephyr Cove (Lake Tahoe), NV
See details at
2020 Gathering of Pilgrims FlyerThe Gathering will run from late afternoon Thursday through noon on Sunday. There will be interesting and helpful presentations on different routes, pilgrim first aid, history, a shell ceremony for pilgrims walking their first Camino this year, movies and entertainment and of course, our popular silent auction and raffle.

Andy Cohn and Kate Stewart on the Chemin de Le Puy
CANCELLED Pilgrim Talk with Andy Cohn and Kate Stewart
Le Puy Route in France
Thursday, March 19, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
South Branch, Berkeley Public Library

So you’ve walked the Camino Francés. You’ve done the Meseta, squeezed into busy albergues, and scarfed down lots of “good value” pilgrim menus.

But are you ready for something different? A 750-kilometer Camino of uninterrupted rural tranquility, verdant landscapes punctuated by rugged climbs, home-cooked communal meals night after night after night, gites with few bunk beds, and one perfect medieval village after another? (Not to mention churches that are actually open and toilets in the middle of nowhere?)

If you answered “yes” then maybe you should come learn about the Chemin du Puy (the Via Podiensis) in France, the route followed by northern Europeans up to St. Jean Pied de Port, the start of the Camino Francés.

Beyond offering a travelogue, they will cover the nitty gritty logistics: how to do it and what you’ll need to know before starting out.

Andy Cohn and Kate Stewart have walked the major Caminos in northern Spain and Portugal — the Norte, the Francés, the Portuguese, the Primitivo and the Inglés. Feeling they needed a respite from Spain, they’ve devoted the last year to other European pilgrimage and long-distance trails, including the Coast to Coast in England, a chunk of the Via Francigena in Italy, and latterly, Chemin du Puy route in September – October, 2019.
Andy recently contributed a post, “
Surviving the Camino With Your Spouse,” and will provide a handout with tips on walking Le Puy.

Event Date: Thursday, March 19th, 6 – 7:30 PM

5:45 PM – Doors open, Sign-in (volunteers welcome to help set up chairs)
6:00 PM – Welcome, Chapter announcements
6:10 PM – Presentation begins, Q&A follows
7:30 PM – Out of the community room (library closes at 8:00 PM)


Location: Berkeley Public Library South Branch, 1901 Russell St., Berkeley, CA 94703


By BART: The Ashby BART station is a few blocks away.
AC Transit: 12, 18, 49 & F
Parking: No parking lot; unmetered street parking is almost always available.
Map/Directions: Follow this link to
map and directions.

Big Map by Wise PilgrimCANCELLED Northern California Chapter, Blessing & Shell Ceremony Potluck
Saturday, Mar 21, 10 AM—3 PM

Location: St. Augustine Catholic Church, 400 Alcatraz Ave. off of College Ave. in Oakland

Help us celebrate our pilgrims heading out to the Camino this year at our annual Blessing & Shell Ceremony Potluck. We’ll be gathering at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Oakland, near the border with Berkeley. Rev. Michael Barham will be back to perform the blessing and confer a scallop shell (symbol of the pilgrimage) to outbound pilgrims as well as recognize departing volunteer hospitaleros. Also, you’ve told us that you want to learn more about different routes, plus more time to meet one another. We’ve heard you! We’ll start the day with breakout tables organized by various routes. Visit one (or more) that you’re interested in or have experience with to exchange info, tips and ideas. We’ll end the day with an open Q&A session to answer any of your lingering Camino questions.

Doors open at 9:30 AM. If you can help with setting up, meet us at 8:45 AM. We also need help with cleaning up afterwards. All are welcome to join and participate in any capacity. This event is not co-sponsored with the church.

To help us with planning, a response is required. Click here to respond by Thursday, March 19. Please, online responses only.

What to Bring
Your favorite dish or drink to share. We’ll have 3×5 index cards to make a label for your dish. A request to cover our bases: If your last name starts with K-Z, bring a food dish (main, side, salad with serving utensils). If it starts with A-J, bring a dessert or beverage (coffee will be provided). Extra points for something from the Camino. Wine counts, too! We’d also love “second breakfast” snacks (muffins, pastries, fruit, etc.) to tide us over until lunch.

Help us cover our event expenses (room, supplies) with a cash contribution to our donativo box at the check-in table. Your generosity allows us to devote more of our resources to our mission that includes supporting the Camino infrastructure through our grants program.

Getting There
By Car: Use Google Maps or your favorite map app for directions. St. Augustine is located at 400 Alcatraz Ave. off of College Ave. in Oakland. The church is on the right side between Dana and Colby Streets when heading west towards the bay and the parking lot entrance is on the left side of the building. Meet us on the bottom floor of the gym/multi-use building across the courtyard on the right side of the church (follow our yellow arrows).

By BART/Bus/Foot: From the Rockridge BART station, take AC Transit bus 51B towards the Berkeley campus and offboard at College/Alcatraz (15 min). Walk west on Alcatraz Ave. to St. Augustine (0.3 mi). To walk from the station, head north along College Ave. towards campus and turn left on Alcatraz Ave. (0.7 mi).

Marching along the Coastal Trail, Mt. Tamalpais Marching along the Coastal Trail, Mt. Tamalpais


Mt Tamalpais Hike
Saturday, March 28, 9:30 AM
Marin County

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Mt Tam.  The greens are vivid and views are breathtaking.  The walking distance is about 10 – 11 miles. The pace will be moderate, plus a 500 foot climb at the end, so hiking poles will be useful.  After the hike there will be an optional dinner/beer stop at the Marin Brewing Company at Larkspur Landing.

Bring: lunch (and plastic to sit on), sunglasses, light jacket, water, and money.
Meet: At the Rock Springs parking lot at Mt Tam at 09:30 am.  Restrooms are available in the parking lot.

Directions:  When driving to Mt Tam (figure about a little over an hour driving time from Berkeley) – cross the San Rafael Bridge and turn south on Hwy 101 to Mill Valley.  Take the Hwy 1 exit and continue on Hwy 1 thru Mill Valley. Turn right onto Panoramic Hwy, drive around the mountain and turn right onto Pantoll Road. Drive 1.2 miles to the Rock Springs parking lot.

For insurance purposes, we are unable to welcome dogs, except service animals, at our events. Canceled by rain.

Details were emailed to NorCal Chapter subscribers on March 4, 2020.

See webpage:

Yoga Pants with “EZPee” Zippers

I’ll bring a limited quantity of EZPee Pants, created by Cathy Seitchik Diaz, to the Camino hikes and events I attend this month. These solid black yoga pants are valued at $60 and are now available by donativo to support the Northern California Chapter for suggested donation of $20. There are five sizes available: XS, S, M, L, XL. You may reserve a pair by emailing me. One per person, while supplies last.  They are comfortable and I’ll be testing them out on my next Camino!


Pilgrim Talk: The Pilgrim House in Santiago
With Guest Speaker Mark Peterson

Berkeley Public Library West Branch
Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 6 – 7:30 PM

Silicon Valley Chapter Shell Ceremony
San Jose, CA
Sunday, April 5, 2020 at 1 – 4 PM

Spanish for the Camino (Sonoma County)
Saturdays, April 4, 11 & 18

Here’s the Google Doc list of NorCal Chapter events planned for the year.

Also see:

Support International House for Cal Big Give!

The following pilgrims have answered the call to support my Big Give fundraiser.

Peregrino Donativo Wall of Gratitude:

Mike Dickman and Todd Rydstrom $250
Anonymous $100
Susan Alcorn $100
Mike “Fog City Boy” Miller $100
Martin Pena $100
David Cook $100
Andy Cohn $100
Roberta Maguire $25
Chris Orrey $25
Jane Tishkoff $25
Alexander John Shaia $20
Scott “Shroomer” Williams $20
Cathy Gower $10

We are so grateful! Donate to my fundraiser on Facebook and I’ll add you to the list. For non-Facebook users, you can make a donation 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.

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. 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!

Starting at 9 p.m. on March 11, make your donation at

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.

Buen Camino!


There are always opportunities to train for or learn about the Camino. If you know of any Camino related events for the SF Bay Area that should be included in the monthly roundup, please use the comment form below, or email me.

For those who live elsewhere, there are Camino hot spots all over the USA and the American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) website has a listing of local chapters where you can find Camino events.

Northern California Chapter - American Pilgrims on the CaminoSubscribe to our NorCal Chapter email list.

Join the Peregrinos Northern California Facebook group (closed group for Northern California residents only)

Visit the Northern California Chapter page on the American Pilgrims on the Camino website.


Patch Update:  The 2020 Camino patch is a little different this year, with a black twill background and the date in yellow. The design idea was fan sourced through a poll on my Facebook page! Thanks for everyone who voted in the poll.

And now, there’s free shipping for orders of $35 or more.  Order at

The Camino Provides 2020 Patch

Digame, por favor.

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