Tag Archives: AVL Camino

The Weekend of Small Hikes

Collier Cove Nature Preserve

Sometimes it’s good to see what’s in your own backyard. While going all around the world is exciting, I know that I’m missing a lot of opportunities right here around Asheville.

This past Saturday, I was introduced to two small areas around Asheville.

I was invited to  talk about the Southern national parks and my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South. Am I still marketing this book?” You may ask. No, but if a group asks me, I go.

Bev McD. of Carolina Mountain Club asked me to speak to her group, RossCraggen Woods – a private club with a few acres in Arden. But before my talk, Bev took me to see a view of Lake Julian, a Buncombe County Park and power plant. See the picture above.

Bev also showed me Collier Cove Nature Preserve, another county park. It only has 2.5 miles of trail, or so, with some elevation but it’s meant to be a full-day hike. I never would have seen this without Bev’s help. I always like to learn how the public acquired the land.

Buncombe County bought the 29 acres from the Collier Family  in 2012. They had already built  the trails on the property. Twenty-nine acres isn’t much but the land is steep, adding to the interest.

From Lunch Roks

Every bit of land here was owned by someone.

Sometimes the owners actually give the land to the public. Most of the times, the descendants sell the land, but not at market (read “development”) prices.

Sunday I met a small group from the Raleigh Camino group. They had come for a weekend of friendship, food and hiking with the Asheville Camino group.

Most had done the long Asheville Camino hike on Saturday, so they scheduled a five-mile hike to Lunch Rocks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Raleigh Camino group

Only four hikers showed up because the rest were still recuperating from the 16-mile hike. But that was OK. The hike to Lunch Rocks, MST east of the Folk Art Center, was just the right length before the Raleigh group started out on their long drive.

I need to have a repertoire of short hikes, close to Asheville because they come in handy.




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 www.rei.com/asheville.

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  http://www.citizen-times.com/story/life/2017/09/27/asheville-hiker-treks-580-miles-spains-el-camino-del-norte/693662001/

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!

AVL Camino

What does it mean to walk eighteen miles through a city? It’s sidewalks, grassy verges, greenways, footpaths – and food.

Symbol of the Camino

Yesterday was my third or fourth walk on the Asheville Camino. As our WNC American Pilgrims on the Camino gets more popular, people are wondering – can they do it? So an AVL Camino was developed. The walk starts and ends at the Asheville Visitor Center, encouraging visitors to also walk it.

What a great way to explore the city! The route takes you to the River Arts District, West Asheville, various greenways, past Mission Hospital, Beaucatcher Mountain, downtown and eventually back to the visitor center. Since you’re in town, you don’t have to do the whole 18 miles and many don’t. They quit when they’ve had enough and figure out how to get back to their cars.

Fourteen hikers met at 8 o’clock. By the time we stopped at Edna’s at the River for Asheville, we had already done almost four miles. We stopped for lunch and at the Bountiful Cities Edible Gardens, we were down to ten hikers and a dog. Pickles was our first dog; he made it just fine and behaved so well around other dogs who were yapping and snarling. See the picture above.

The AVL Camino is a great way to see the city. It’s also a good way to test out your boots, socks, pack and feet. I changed socks at lunch time to see how my new Farm to Feet socks would fare – great!

So after 18 miles, could I do another 18 miles today? Well, if I was on the real Camino somewhere in Europe, I would be on the trail again today, and the next day… The energy and the expectation would be there.

The AVL Camino now has a Facebook page. Join the group and learn the next time that we’re walking the AVL Camino.