Why the photo of our rig from when we paused a few weeks ago on Colorado’s Wolf Creek Pass at 10,800 feet? Two reasons. First, my mom’s name, like our trailer, was Minnie, so our cross-country adventure has been dedicated to her memory.
Second, Sue and I turned around in West Virginia and are heading back to Colorado. This time we will camp at 10,000 feet, near Breckenridge, to hike as many high-altitude trails as we can do in eight days. Why the heights? We are conditioning. Can you guess the trail we are planning to backpack in August? Hints: 243 miles, mostly above 10,000 feet, named after a pioneer.
At the end, we will have camped for 30 days straight. The tent-camping part is new for two hikers used to a bed and shower, even after grueling days on the trail. Can we do it? That is what I wondered in 2013 before our first distance trek, Spain’s Camino de Santiago.
I am grateful for two reviews of Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows that arrived this week via Amazon. Also, I am thankful for my wife Sue’s ink-and-watercolor art. There is rarely a shortage of signs on Spain’s Camino de Santiago. To everyone who has shared our journey: Thank you!
From the United Kingdom: “While reading this book I was transported to the Camino. The descriptions of the people, difficulties and triumphs are so vivid and told with humour and insight. I got totally engrossed in it and could imagine myself walking with the author and his wife. They would be such entertaining companions. Great read.”
From the USA: “I’ve lived vicariously for years reading others’ adventures hiking the Camino. This book was my favorite! Down to earth, funny, moving, heartfelt, loved it, felt like I was taking the journey along with the author. I would definitely read other books he writes.”
Our adventures on Scotland’s West Highland Way, the Alps’ Tour du Mont Blanc, Italy’s Way of St. Francis, and England’s South West Coast Path are getting closer to publication. Stay tuned!
The Camino Frances inspired Sue and me to backpack four more European distance treks, each with a unique personality. A closed sign greeted us at an ancient aqueduct as we left Spoleto, Italy on the Way of St. Francis in 2018. Part of the official path, the aqueduct was closed after a 2016 earthquake, forcing us to turn around and walk a lengthy detour. How many stairs are there on England’s South West Coast Path? We climbed and descended many of the 30,000 steps in 2019. Glaciers on the Mont Blanc massif frame our favorite accommodation on the Tour du Mont Blanc, Rifugio Elisabetta, in 2016. An ingenious drying rack was a godsend at the Lander Bed and Breakfast in Drymen on the West Highland Way in 2014. Our adventures on the four treks are featured in my second book, coming soon.
On the Camino de Santiago, the world’s most-traveled long-distance trek, pilgrims like to say, “Everyone walks their own Camino.”
In Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Mexico to Canada, Bruce Wilson describes how he inserted a “flip” in his 2,650-mile endurance test. He began at the Mexican border in April and arrived in the Southern Sierra Nevada early, with dangerously high snow levels ahead. He got rides to Ashland, Oregon, where he flipped his PCT and walked back to the southern Sierra, where he left off. He still faced snow and snowmelt-fed waterways, but his PCT was safer, more passable. To complete his flip, he got rides back to Ashland and resumed his trek.
Nelson’s book brings home the challenges of backpacking for months on difficult terrain that reaches more than 13,000 feet. I am addicted to experiencing the PCT through hikers’ books and YouTube posts and, like many I have followed, Nelson paints a vivid picture of the beauty and the problems he faced. A retired smokejumper from Alaska, he preferred walking on his own, but accompanied others for stretches. There are days that sound just like other days and I yearned for more about his personal journey, but, in the end, I was drawn to turn the pages by an appreciation of his strength, physical and mental.