Category Archives: Camino/Chemin de St. Jacques

Camino in Asheville

Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. Attributed to John Lennon.

Chemin de St. Jacques

That’s how I feel now about my involvement with the Camino de Santiago. The multitude of trails all eventually leading to Santiago, Spain has become more than a hiking vacation.

Between 2013 when I walked Le Chemin de St. Jacques in France and this year on the Camino del Norte,  Camino activities in  Asheville have exploded.

The Western North Carolina chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino now has a 16-mile walk around Asheville to give people an idea of what a typical day on the Camino would be. Sixteen miles around Asheville is not as difficult as it sounds and not like 16 miles in the Smokies.

We now offer a guided walk every month. In December, I’ll be leading the walk for both the Camino group and Carolina Mountain Club.

ATL and AVL Camino hikers

A couple of weeks ago, the WNC chapter hosted the Atlanta Camino group. About sixteen hikers and Camino enthusiasts came for a weekend of hiking and sociability. We walked the Asheville Camino and dined in our fine restaurants – probably much better than on the Camino in Spain.

On Monday Oct 2, I’ll be speaking on The History and Culture along the Camino del Norte at REI Asheville at 7PM. The talk is free. Register at

You can get a preview of my experiences on the Camino del Norte in the article I wrote in the Asheville Citizen-Times. See it today because stories in the Citizen-Times disappear quickly. See

Split in trail

The Camino de Santiago has not taken over my hiking life – after all it is thousands of miles away. Hiking in the Southern Appalachians is my life.

But I’m meeting with my hiking partner next month to talk about our next Camino.

Yikes! Buen Camino!

Camino del Norte – detailed days and lodging

Beyond the beautiful scenery, culture and food, the Camino del Norte requires some planning. Or to be more precise, I felt that we needed a plan. As they say:

You need a plan to deviate from.


The only guidebook that we could find was the Pilgrim Route: the Northern Caminos by Laura Perazzoli and Dave Whitson.

Using the daily stages in the book, I created a spreadsheet of day-by-day locations, distances and altitude gains. The book had 31 stages, i.e. 31 walking days to Santiago.

I wasn’t comfortable with some of their distances. Some days were over 24 miles; on other days, we would only walk 9 miles.

My feet – Camino 2017

Also I knew something might happen: a broken piece of equipment or an injury. So we added two extra days. But amazingly, nothing disastrous happened.

We were able to alter some destinations. We started walking a day earlier and shortened some days.

I kept track of all the lodging: albergues, hostels, pensions, hotels.

Here’s the list of towns and places we stayed in.

A few accommodations were so outstanding that I gave them a star (*). But it’s my version of outstanding. To me, it’s all about memorable people. I enjoy interacting the people who run the lodging.

Camino maps

Look at my stages, change it to suit you, and Buen Camino.

PS As I write this, I received the package that I mailed home from Santiago. It contained maps and literature for several other Caminos.


Camino del Norte – Finisterre, the end of the world

Beth and I had arrived in Santiago on the Camino del Norte. But our adventure wasn’t over. After a day of wandering around Santiago and going to the pilgrim’s mass, we got back on the trail heading to Finisterre (or Fisterra, in the Galician language), the end of the world as believed by the Romans. It was another 73 miles, which we did in five days. This time, we took our time.

Emigrant from Negreira

First stop was the town of Negreira, shut tight when we arrived on a Saturday afternoon.

But one sculpture, placed as we walked out of town, was worth a thousand words. The statue shows a man leaving his family in Galicia to find work in the new world. The boy tries to grab his dad to get him to stay.

Galicians have emigrated throughout the world, mostly in South America. Life was tough in the 19th and early 20th century here in Galicia, as land got divided up continuously. A statue with a similar sentiment is in the Finisterre as well.

Heartbreaking. You can’t eat scenery.

The walk to Finisterre can be done by going to Muxia first or to Finisterre first. We elected to leave Finisterre last – after all it is the end of the world. On this trek, we met a whole new set of people, including most who walked the Camino Frances and those who are just walking this loop.

Sign to Muxia

It’s all very clear. On a roundabout, we reached two sets of arrows and we took the right to Muxia.

Still past this sign, on the way to Muxia, I got lost for the first and only time on the Norte. At one point, I encountered three roads emanating from the one I was on and none had a sign.

I went back and forth for what seemed an hour. Finally, unlike the Robert Frost poem, I took the road most traveled.

This is where I had the most chance to find people and get back on the trail. It was the right decision, though I had wasted a lot of extra time on what was already a long, long day.

In Muxia

Muxia is a tourist spot in its own right.

After dinner, we walked to the point to catch the sunset.

Like most churches, the church facing the sea, the Virxe da Barca sanctuary, was closed. Close by stands a spectacular modern sculpture.

From Wikipedia, “A Ferida” by Alberto Bañuelos is a sculpture that symbolizes the wound that has been done to the sea by the spilling of 66,000 tons of oil when the Prestige tanker broke apart off the coast of Muxia on November 13, 2002. The sculpture is 11 meters high, and weights over 400 tons.

Finally, Finisterre, a lively town with many restaurants, shops, and boats. Most visitors are not hikers or pilgrims but come by bus or car. The beaches are spectacular and I even put my feet in the water at the town beach. My feet were in bad shape.

We planned a short hiking day because in the early evening, we walked from town to the lighthouse and the never-ending sea. See the photo on top. Contrary to rumors, you can’t burn anything on the spot. Yes, Cape Finisterre really did look like this.

On the bus the next morning back to Santiago. The end of our pilgrimage.

580.3 miles, 15.7 miles average, 37 hiking days