Everyone says to walk your own Camino – like Hike your own Hike.
Well, it sounds good, until you realize that to do that, you need a lot of advice and experience.
That’s where the WNC chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino comes in. The group meets monthly at REI Asheville for talks, discussions, and sometimes, an introduction to the practicalities of walking a Camino – Camino 101, as they called it.
Chris Slater has walked ten Caminos, more Caminos than anyone in WNC, starting in 2004. He gave a brief history of the Camino de Santiago, speaking eloquently without notes. Then, attendees went from station to station where Camino topic experts answered questions.
Peggy Beaman covered how best to get to your Camino starting point and the various routes available.
Mark Cobb, a retired doctor, answered medical-related questions. He’s a dermatologist but I should have asked him about my sorry foot problem.
Chris Yavelow shared his knowledge on technology on the Camino. Some walkers were adamant that you shouldn’t have a phone on the trail. But what if that’s also your camera?
Rebecca Gallo is the packing guru. She created lists of what is essential to pack and what is just nice to have.
Chris Slater answered food and lodging questions. From five-star hotels to municipal albergues, you can choose your right level of comfort and luxury.
I don’t know where you can have this kind of one-to-one help and encouragement for any other trail. The Appalachian Trail may be the most documented trail in the world, with books, maps, discussion groups and apps.
But is there a club that devotes itself to helping newbies walk the trail successfully? The group is like “Pilgrims on the Camino anonymous” but we encourage the addiction, not help you get over it.
But these monthly meetings are not the only place to hear about the Camino from experienced pilgrims – yep, that’s what they call us. See the event page of the AVL Camino website.
Hike on Sunday
I will be leading the next Asheville Camino hike on Sunday, December 10. It’s a joint hike with members of the Carolina Mountain Club. Meet the group at 8 a.m. at the Asheville Visitor Center (36 Montford Ave.). You can walk all or part of the 16 mile trail.
By the way, the picture above is of a very well-dressed Rebecca on Le Chemin de St. Jacques in St. Come d’Olt. I saw that dress folded in a zip lock bag which is fitted in her pack. Very impressive.