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Rlhdancer - Camino De Santiago Journal - 2024

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Chris & Becky "Split & Two Step" Haynam
City: Pleasanton
State: California
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 15, 2024
Direction: Westbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sat, Mar 16th, 2024
Start: Pleasanton CA, elev 270ft
End: Pleasanton CA, elev 270ft
Daily Distance: 0
Daily Ascent: 0
Daily Descent: 0
Max Elevation: 0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 180
Journal Visits: 1,717
Guestbook Views: 15
Guestbook Entrys: 3

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(Click image for full size)

Becky and Chris on a trip to New Zealand

Journal Entry

Preparing for a Pilgrim’s Walk on The Camino

Welcome to our 2024 journal about our hike on a new type of trail for us, El Camino through France and Spain. We are Chris and Becky Haynam from Pleasanton, California, a moderate sized town of 77,000 about thirty miles east of San Francisco. This is part of the “East Bay”, a region that includes 73 parks and over 1,330 miles of trails across 124,909 acres.

In 2012, we stepped our weekend and occasional few-week hiking expeditions to a new level and thru-hiked the 2200 Appalachian Trail (AT). Over the 5 months and 1 day it took us to backpack this National Scenic Trail, we became official ultra-long distance hikers. Since then we have added to the AT complete hikes of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide trail, each about 2700 miles. We received our Triple Crown Award from ALDA-West in 2018. We have continued to backpack in Colorado and California since, but more modest distances of a couple hundred miles.

This year we have decided to do a different type of hike, as much spiritual as physical. We will walk to Camino de Santiago along the pilgrims trails through France and Spain. Starting in Le Puy on April 15th, we plan to walk about 500 miles to St. Jean Pied de Port along the trail named Via Podiensis. From there we will hike over the Pyrenees into Spain and travel another ~500 miles to Santiago de Compostela on the route named the Camino Frances. Here we will complete the official route, but we have decided to continue our journey to and along the ocean coast to Finistere.

We plan to backpack, carrying all the gear we need for each day/night. However, unlike our other hikes where we tent every night, except some nights when we resupply in town, and carry 3 to 9 days of food, on the Camino we will have lodging every night and dinners and breakfast off the trail. Also our distances will be an average of 15 miles per day, more reasonable than the 20 to 30 miles per day we needed to do on our thru-hikes. We hope this less physically demanding schedule will allow us additional time for personal reflection and communion with our fellow pilgrims and the many local citizens that live on or near the Camino.

As part of the spiritual, and practical, preparation for the Camino, today we attended a “Shell” ceremony for the El Camino. We got up at 6:30am to do a 5 mile training hike before heading off to Oakland’s Saint Augustine Church for the ceremony and afterwards a meeting of the American Pilgrims Northern California chapter.

The meeting started with the traditional greeting used by pilgrims on the trail when they meet, “Buen Camino”. As I sat listening to this traditional Spanish greeting, I used my very basic Spanish capabilities to translate a saying from our AT/PCT hikes in an attempt to blend the traditions. I’ve adapted the AT/PCT saying “Hike your own hike!” for Spanish on the Camino:

“Camine su propio Camino!”

A short presentation “American Pilgrims on the Camino” relayed their mission statement:

To foster the enduring tradition of the Camino by:

Supporting its infrastructure,

Gathering pilgrims together,

Providing information and encouragement to past and future pilgrims.

We then retired to the parking lot on a clear, comfortable, very sunny day for the shell ceremony. This was led by pastor Michael Burnham, a cheerful soul who was clearly happy to be involved in sending off a new group of pilgrims. Here are some of the Pastors thoughts on the El Camino pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage is prayer and prayer is pilgrimage.

As you walk focus on gratitude, compassion, generosity, sharing, and reflection. Don’t focus only on the mechanics of traveling to the next location - enjoy the moment, the scenery, the architecture, and the spiritual moments (including masses).

When you are done, take a break from walking, prayer, work, and life, then find a companion to tell your story to. Also take breaks (poop-outs) on the trail to enjoy your fellow pilgrims, the scenery and architecture, and the joy of just being on this journey.

After the sermon, Becky and I both went up and received a blessing, our shells, and a hug from the pastor. It was a moving experience to kick off our final preparations for this monumental journey.

Then we transitioned from the more spiritual to the more practical portion of the day. We returned to a very nice pot-luck lunch where we met and talked to a many-time Camino pilgrim and podcaster, Nancy Reynolds. She told us that she relates much of her Camino experiences where she discusses the mechanics and art of walking the Camino in her podcasts. It’s called “You on the Camino de Santiago”. I have since listened to a number of these excellent discussions and interviews, and have found them quite useful in preparation for our trip.

After lunch, we had break out sessions on our trails. Our breakout session was with Susan Alcorn on the Le Puy route, and afterwards we caught the tail end of a session on the Camino Frances.

The day was emotional, stimulating, and full of useful ideas and suggestions - a great success.

Anticipating our upcoming El Camino,

Chris and Becky Haynam

(aka Split and Two Step)

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Journal Photo

Chris And Becky On The Camino

The Camino de Santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.


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