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

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

Back Home From 4th Camino


I just returned home from another relatively short Camino. Two travel days, one night in Rabanal, one night in Ponferrada, ten days of walking, and two days in Santiago.

Winter Way guidebookI was craving a less crowded walk, so decided to do the Camino Invierno, aka Winter Way,  from Ponferrada.  This is definitely a less-trodden Camino, but little did I know that I wouldn’t see a pilgrim until the third day! This was by far the most challenging Camino for me because some of the stages were very long, and a few days there were no places to stop. But, I walked through incredibly beautiful landscapes, connected with some locals, and survived some unforeseen challenges.  In short, it was a Camino of solitude at the beginning, a test of my fortitude in the middle, but throughout it all, left me with a feeling of extreme gratitude. I will write more about it later.  I did some posts on Instagram and Facebook if you want a sneak preview of my adventures and a few pilgrim hacks, see:

Continue reading

Giving Back on Camino

Hola from Ponferrada, España.

I just started walking the Camino Invierno! I will write a detailed route report upon my return. For now, I am excited to share a cause that I am supporting and ask for your help pitching in. During my Camino, between May 17-28, $2 from every patch sale will be donated to Egeria House in Santiago to support the work of Sybille Yates and the volunteers who help pilgrims in need. My patches can be ordered for $4 each at: Etsy.com/shop/caminoprovides

I met Sybille in Santiago after my last two Caminos and witnessed how she has helped many pilgrims. Sybille is a busy woman! After seeing her at the 10 am mass, handing out hymn sheets and helping pilgrims to find a seat, I saw her again at the hospital visiting a friend of mine from the Bay Area who became critically ill while walking the Camino. Because I have seen her kindness in action, I want to show support for what she is doing in Santiago with Egeria House. She is one of those Camino angels I will write about when I get back home.

Learn more at: Egeria.House

My patches can be ordered at: Etsy.com/shop/caminoprovides

I will give Egeria House the patch sale contributions when I get to Santiago on May 27th or 28th.

Thank you for sharing the Camino love!

Continue reading

Canadian Wanderers on the Camino

On Valentine’s Day, we add another Camino Love story to the collection. Rob and his wife walked the Camino Francés in 2015. I knew him first as “Canadian Wander” on the Camino de Santiago UK forum, and like every Canadian I’ve met, his interactions are positive and friendly. He recalls his reluctance to the idea of walking, but, with the help of his adventure-seeking wife, Rob eventually became a Camino convert.  Enjoy!

Continue reading

Love: Chemistry and Commitment in Equal Measure

A Camino Love Story by James Portelli

James is a guest contributor to The Camino Provides, and also the author of  the new book Camino de Santiago: Microcosm of Life.  I walked the Camino Primitivo in 2018 with James and his wife Rituccia after visiting them in Malta. Their love for walking predates their encounter with the Camino de Santiago. But embarking on their first Camino signaled a new phase in the journey together, and resulted in the birth of XirCammini, a voluntary organization focusing on ancient Caminos in Europe. It is an honor to add their unique love storywhich  spans continents and decadesto the collection of Camino love stories featured on this blog.

Love: Chemistry and Commitment in Equal Measure
By James Portelli

Love is essentially woven into the route of the journey called life.

It is life’s greatest adventure. It is often at the root of our uphill struggles and is one’s walking sticks on a steep downhill or slippery slope. It is our support when we falter. Love guides one through the quagmire. It casts certainty at a crossroad, and yet, imbues hesitation and introspection where fools rush in.

Love is a waymark by the side of one’s road guiding us on the journey.

Love is in the youthful exhilaration when peaks are conquered and rewarded with panoramas of what lay behind and what lies ahead.

Some pilgrims on this journey are truly blessed and I count myself among them.  Love is embodied in our companion on this journey called life; a companion that walks sometimes with us and beside us, sometimes ahead, and at other times behind. Whether walking physically together or journeying apart, we are never absent in mind and heart.

Through love joy multiplies.

May 2016 Finisterre at the "0" km Waymark

May 2016 Finisterre at the “0” km Waymark

Continue reading

Pilgrims Share How They Pack for the Camino

I am delighted to feature another post by the vivacious red-headed wanderluster from the UK, Sheree Hooker, author of Winging the World blog.  She was one of 21 pilgrims interviewed about packing for the Camino by the Packing Goods website. You might remember Sheree from her guest post last month, Camino Reflections by an Awkward British Wanderluster. Read her tips below, one of which I disagree with (can you guess which one?). But this is a lesson about choice of gear—what works for some pilgrims, doesn’t necessarily work for others. When a pilgrim is planning what to pack for their first Camino, the options and advice can be overwhelming. In the end, it’s up to each pilgrim to decide what he or she will pack. Still, it’s good to take a sneak peak into the backpacks of other pilgrims!

How I packed for the Camino
By Sheree Hooker

Sheree at a Santiago entrance sign

Sheree at a Santiago entrance sign

Continue reading

Camino Reflections by an Awkward British Wanderluster

I’m happy to feature a guest post by fellow travel blogger Sheree, who recently walked the Camino Francés with her partner Tim.  The self-proclaimed “awkward British wanderluster” writes, “I don’t really know where I’m going, but that’s never stopped me before.”  I can definitely relate to being awkward and having a serious case of wanderlust! It’s an interesting take on the pilgrimage, and even more evidence that the Camino provides.

Camino Reflections
By Sheree

When my boyfriend Tim first told me that he wanted to walk the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, I wasn’t really all that surprised. Eight years before this declaration, he had suffered a spinal cord injury during a motorcycle accident and had been told he would never walk again. Luckily, after several months he took his first steps (for the second time) and began a new chapter in his life.

When Tim asked me to partner him on his Camino journey, I instantly agreed. At the time, I knew only the bare bones of what the Camino was about but as I thought that the decision would probably never come to fruition, I thought very little about accepting the invite. After a few months, it became evident that Tim was serious about undertaking the journey.

Continue reading

Celebrating Saint James Day

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. Below are some photos of this year’s show, courtesy of Robert Anderson, pilgrim from South Africa.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check out this mesmerizing video:

Robert and Darren Combrink are currently walking to Finisterre to complete their epic Camino and fundraiser for Walking For Life.  Bravo guys! Buen Camino!

Meanwhile, closer to home

All over America, pilgrims celebrate St. James Day in different ways. Bay Area pilgrims started on Saturday, July 21st with an urban Camino in San Francisco. The 12-mile trek began near Ocean Beach and continued through the Sunset neighborhood on Santiago Street, up to Mt. Davidson (SF’s highest peak), through the Mission district to St. James church for a mass and pilgrim blessing. We ended the day with tapas, paella, and sangria at at Spanish restaurant. Here’s the video created with MapMyHike and Relive Apps:

For those who missed it, you can follow our footsteps and do this walk any time. And this coming weekend is when he church is actually celebrating Saint James Day!
July 28, noon – 3 pm meditation stations.
July 29, 10:30 mass, followed by BBQ.  Here’s a snapshot of the bulletin announcement.

Saint James Catholic Church is located at: Guerrero St & 23rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Feast of Saint James Day Potluck & Blessing

On Wednesday, July 25th, our NorCal APOC chapter hosted a Feast of St. James Potluck at Corpus Christi church in Piedmont, with a presentation about Saint James and a blessing for departing pilgrims. I wanted to have a special event in the East Bay, and my parish was the perfect place to have it. The church is located on Saint James Drive, after all!

Double click on photos below to see larger version and read captions.

Message from American Pilgrims on the Camino

Below you will find a message from the APOC Board of Directors:

Happy St. James’ Feast Day!

As you may know, today is the Feast of St. James’ Day, a very special day celebrated all over Spain. Throughout Galicia in particular, there are parades, special foods and meals, and commemorative Masses and ceremonies in the beautiful churches along the Way. And in Santiago, the pilgrim community, which is normally characterized by genuine joy, is even more jubilant!

We at American Pilgrims on the Camino have been supporting the improvement and rebuilding of Camino facilities and infrastructure for many years, by awarding grants to Spanish, French, and Portuguese organizations; this year alone, we made $30,000 in grants to projects along the Camino! The American Pilgrims grant program is a tangible demonstration of our mission of fostering the enduring tradition of the Camino and has helped to support the ever-increasing number of pilgrims that travel the different routes to Santiago. This program is solely possible through member support.

We invite you to join American Pilgrims on the Camino and become part of these lovely contributions to the Camino community. By joining today you will always remember your “anniversary date of belonging” is July 25, the Feast of St. James’ Day. You can start enjoying the benefits and pride of belonging right away.

To join, simply visit http://www.americanpilgrims.org/join-renew.

¡Buen Camino!


On a previous St. James Day post, I shared an overview of how the festival is celebrated in Santiago and a Tarta de Santiago recipe.

13627171_10105532995025423_1674422263543695398_nPilgrims, How do you celebrate St. James Day?

Camino Primitivo Stages

I wanted to do something special for my 50th year, and this three-part trip is what I came up with. First, my mom and I enjoyed our 8th annual mother-daughter trip; this time we chose a tour of Sicily and Malta. Second, I had a free week before meeting up with my Camino buddies in Oviedo, so I visited Bay Area friends who retired in Ponferrada, Spain.  I also served as a part-time Hospitalera and taught yoga for pilgrims at the Albergue  San Nicolás de Flüe. And last, but certainly not least, I spent two weeks walking the Camino Primitivo with a wonderful group of pilgrims from Malta. 

Continue reading