Come Trippin’ With Me on the Trails of Europe

Sue and I at Land’s End, England, after a trek like no other.

Our fall 2019 trek on England’s South West Coast Path left us wanting more. While we (and our backpacks) await our chance to find our next adventure, Sue walks the hills around our home in Ashland, Oregon, and I bicycle on nearby quiet roads and bike paths.

Then I work on my second book, to be published (I hope) by the end of 2020. Here is a sneak preview (working title is Trippin’ Through My Sixties):

A guy (that’s me) retiring at age 60 revives the rebellious rumblings of his teen years in the 1960s. He and his wife set out to make their post-working years an adventure by moving out of state, making new friends, and walking the long-distance trails of Europe. There are four parts: Scotland’s West Highland Way, the Alps’ Tour du Mont Blanc, Italy’s Way of St. Francis, and England’s South West Coast Path. Each trek challenged us with more adventure than we thought possible.

My first book, Camino Sunrise, an adventure memoir about our first trek, continues to find new readers in several countries. I am so grateful for its success and for the many readers who send emails or write reviews.

Send along a note (See Contact in the Menu) if you want to be among the first to know when the new book is out. Meanwhile, my best wishes for your good health.

Mont Blanc: Camino Lessons Travel to the Alps

See that speck of a building below the glacier? It is Refugio Elisabetta, one of a collection of remote hostels on the 110-mile Tour du Mont Blanc.

I would never have stayed there if it had not been for my hiking adventure on the Camino de Santiago.

Perched on a spur in the Italian Alps, Refugio Elisabetta offered triple bunks in a crowded coed dorm and bright orange clogs for walking around an outdoor setting that left me gobsmacked. I showered in minimal privacy, shared a sink with other men, and waited to use the only toilet with a seat. We had lucked out with a private room with barely enough room for one set of bunks, but its tiny window opened to a view of the glacier. The dirty duvet made me wish I had packed my sleeping liner, but I was grateful for the bed after several exhausting days of climbs and descents.

Refugio Elisabetta was a highlight of our two-week trip around the Alps’ tallest mountain. The delicious communal dinner came with quick-binding friendships with trekkers who had traveled from throughout Europe. Some were sleeping in tents in the campground down the slope from the building.

In Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows, I describe the restless night in my first albergue in Spain and how I had ruminated about the lack of privacy in coed dorms and bathrooms. Our first long-distance backpacking adventure eventually guided me to come to terms with ghosts that had haunted me since childhood.

And, oh, so thankfully, the Camino lessons led me to Refugio Elisabetta.

Mont Blanc: What a Sight

Patience. Sue and I had learned during our pilgrimage across Spain that our perseverance would be rewarded, eventually. I chronicled our trials in Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.

Mont Blanc had stood tall, 15,771 feet, for the first several days of our 110-mile adventure around the Alps’ highest member. But it had hid from our view.

On the morning after the toughest climbing day of our lives, our patience was tested again as we inched up 3,100 feet toward Col de Seigne. The aches from day three worsened, making us wonder how much more we could take. We didn’t say it, but the Tour du Mont Blanc had made us question why we had attempted such a trek.

Then, at the mountain pass, Mont Blanc’s grand pose was the best pain killer I have ever felt. It graciously posed for photographs with us before we stepped from France into Italy, where we picnicked at nearly 8,300 feet in the crisp, blue air and gawked at one of Earth’s wonders.

Patience. Indeed.