The Camino Frances

The Camino Frances

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hiking in Winter

I've been itching to post something on walking in winter.
There is nothing like a brisk hike in sunshine, with friends, to lift your mood, and even on cloudy or snowy days, it works its magic.
I tell my walking friends - there is no bad weather, just bad equipment.

How do I dress?
I wear a layer of two of merino wool on my trunk.

Merino T1 Long-Sleeved Crew Regatta
This is the MEC version, but Costco has a cheaper line, and thrift stores lower the cost even more.

Then a down vest or merino hoodie, then a windproof and rain resistant jacket on top. I almost always have a color-coordinated silk scarf around my neck.

Legs need a merino blend pair of leggings, or fleece lined leggings if it is below -10, with a pair of nylon pants on top. The pants are rain and wind resistant, and dry fast.
Socks are merino, and shoes are my Keens which I wear all year except when I put on my Keen sandals in the heat. Keen shoes and merino socks keep my feet dry and warm, and if the snow is deep, I put on gaiters - we have not needed them this year.

I wear a buff like a headband on cool days, and a knitted tube when it is colder. I like the tube - it is like a large buff - because it serves as hat and scarf.
Thin gloves are usually enough, but below -10, I pull a pair of mittens on top.
There - prepared for the cold, and able to enjoy the hike!

You might need some icers or cleats for your shoes. They keep you safe from falls, and are available at Canadian Tire and MEC.
Here is a link to the kind that have worked for me for several years.

I also use poles. They are great year round, but invaluable going up or down on hillsides.

I watch the weather on the weather channel each morning before I go out for some clues about what to expect, but the weather is usually better than predicted.

Bring along water and a snack, and then enjoy yourself!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Celebrating: Hiking and lunch at the Bistro Camino

Dec 23, and 28 rugged hikers joined me on a beautiful hike through Taylor Creek Park. It was about 3 degrees, and the snow was crunchy underfoot.  As Pat B said when she posted this picture: "There is no bad weather, just bad clothes. Layer up."
We walked from Main Subway station to Nostalgia coffee shop, where they managed to serve all of us, and I passed around peanut butter oatmeal cookies.

Then we headed back down into the Taylor Massey ravine, walking east into Warden Woods. After a stop to hydrate, we crossed back over Pharmacy, and through Dentonia Park Golf Course. We have never been able to do that before, but the gate was open on Pharmacy, so we trudged up and down over the snow covered golf course, then past the Victoria Park subway station, using the pedestrian overpass, arriving at Camino Bistro about 1 pm. We were joined by others who were injured, or who had limited time the day before Christmas eve, and all 38 of us had a splendid meal, featuring roast lamb or chicken, with lots of other choices.

Service was great - love the staff here!

Hiro is a pilgrim and chef, and he set up a dessert buffet for us. On the walls there are pictures from his many Caminos, and his compostelas. He closesfor the month of January to walk the Camino - 2017 was the Primitivo! Buen Camino, Hiro, and see you on the hikes in February.

It was wonderful to see so many friends out sharing their joy in walking and the Camino.
Merry Christmas, and the best for the New Year to all of you, and Buen Camino on your journeys.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The power of the Camino

What is the power of the connections we form on the Camino?
We meet people as different from us as possible: the other sex, different ages, from different continents, different cultures, different religions and beliefs, different socioeconomic circumstances.
What draws us together and makes that powerful connection that can last for years?
It's what we share, not how we are different.
It is our commonalities, not our divergence.
On the Camino we are committed to a purpose: making it to Santiago.
We are committed to putting one foot in front of the other.
We are not deterred by pain or rain, by hunger or thirst, by injury or loneliness.
Our commitment is to ourselves, but also to those who share our path.
We celebrate our shared path and purpose - with a glass of wine, at communal meals, with sharing supplies and information.
We work together for a common goal.
Can we bring that back to our life here?
Can we look at others and see the values we share, not the views we disagree on?
Can we celebrate what we all value and work to overcome the barriers between us?
Can we drop our fears and embrace others who are different from us?
Let's commit to caring for others, sharing with everyone, helping where help is needed, and listening, not judging, just listening.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cottage Camino - last 2 days

Sunday morning, May 29 - Breakfast on the dock - at the cottage I never eat inside unless it is raining or freezing! I served coffee and egg on a raft - easier that eggs and toast, and no utensils required.

Not exactly as served

 It was hot when we started off at 6:45, but this section of the Victoria Rail trail south to Lindsay had more mature trees and therefore more shade than yesterday. However, there were more mosquitoes!
The first hour was familiar to me, as I have biked it, but as we headed further south it was all new. After 2 hours we arrived at Ken Reid Conservation area, but once again the signage was minimal, and we walked straight through the park, along their boardwalk, with no rest or picnic area to be seen.

Image result for image boardwalk Ken Reid Conservation

We stopped on the side of the trail and had part of our lunch.
We met many more people today than on the other days - perhaps because it was a Sunday. There were lots of bikes and 8 ATVs passed us along the way.
As we walked through the outskirts of Lindsay a woman with a dog told us that we were only 20 minutes from the Kawartha Dairy, our destination for the day.Image result for image kawartha dairy barn lindsay
 Hooray! We arrived there before 1 pm, Dave met us, and we rewarded ourselves with one of their wonderful ice cream cones - mine was "3 truffle chocolate".
Back to the cottage, had the rest of our lunch, a swim

 and were back in Toronto by 5 pm.

But we weren't finished the Camino! So in July, I invited all my pilgrim friends to the cottage, and the 3 of us plus Pat's cousin, who had done a Camino years ago, and Cathy, who was planning to walk in September,  completed the pilgrimage by walking the last stage from Fingerboard Road to Lindsay and the Kawartha Dairy once again.
It was hot, but this section of the trail was shadier, and the signage was much better once we entered the city of Kawartha Lakes.
This is their website.
While we were walking this section, we met a woman who had recently joined the board of this section of the trail. We gave her an earful of suggestions, including washrooms, water, more shade, picnic areas and signage showing the locations of all these facilities.
Once we arrived back at the cottage ( after another stop for ice cream for some of us) we found more pilgrims, and the rest of the day was spent eating fabulous food ( thanks to all, especially Ingrid),

A sample of the feast

swimming, sunning, and sharing Camino stories. That night there were 10 pilgrims sleeping over in my cottage/albergue,  also known as Pilgrims Rest.

Morning has broken - Ingrid

So finally, with the help of friends, I was able to complete a dream of walking from home to my cottage.

Image result for images trans canada trail lindsay

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cottage Camino, day 3 and 4

We continued up Westney Road, as we couldn't see a direct path through the Conservation Areas. The road was very quiet, hilly, with very little traffic, and a tremendous swath of trillium along the sideroad on the west side. We also saw a fox on the road.

Once we reached the outskirts of Uxbridge, the trail was much better marked. We walked through the Timber Tract then the Countryside Preserve.

Uxbridge bills itself as the trail capital of Canada, so we had high hopes that we would find maps to lead us on. After eating our packed lunches on a bench on Main Street, we went into the Library, hoping for water for our water bottles, a washroom and information. We satisfied the first 2 needs, but the Library had no maps, nor information on the Trans Canada Trail, which started a few blocks away along a rail trail. They called the Township office for us ( pilgrims never walk back!) but they had no maps either. I think we were the first through hikers they had encountered at the Library.

This link covers the town paths, but the rail trail belongs to another county, and perhaps that is the problem.
We walked over the trestle at the beginning of the trail, and continued on.

This Rail Trail is straight and flat, built for trains. It is also without water sources, washrooms or benches, and the shade is minimal. As it was very hot by now, we stopped and called it a day, returning to home in Toronto.

Saturday, we started where we left off, but once again it was very hot, and no coffee shop in sight!
We went off the trail in Blackwater, thinking there might be a coffee shop there, but the only commerce was a junk shop.
No wonder, with only 79 residents!

Trail near Blackwater

A local filled our water bottles, and we were back on the trail. We met several bikers, and a few local walkers, but no hikers. The trail went cross country, though marshes where we saw many water fowl. We ended where the trail crossed Fingerboard Road, and this time, our chauffeur, Dave, took us to my cottage in Fenelon Falls.
We settled on the dock, for a swim, appetizers and wine, had dinner at Murphy's and were in bed by 9 pm.

Image result for image fenelon falls

Sunset in Fenelon Falls

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Where was I?

I am back from Spain, with many tales to tell. But why didn't I post from Spain? Well, I was blocked from my blog for the duration of my time outside Canada. I made many attempts to get in, but it is all a blur to me now, as Yahoo also frequently blocked my email, and between the two, it was very frustrating trying to stay in touch.

Meghan, Cy and I walked 180 kms on the Camino Frances.


"3 generations of McKee family from Toronto with Hospitalero Gilbert. Grandmother Darlene, daughter Megan and grandchild Cy.
Darlene will be back as a hospitalera at Gaucelmo on September 15th.
— in Rabanal Del Camino, Castilla y León, Spain"

I walked 123 kms - the entire Camino Ingles, by myself.

 This is a picture that Ingrid took on the Camino Ingles last year.

I spent about a week in Santiago, with a visit to Carantonia, Muxia and Finnesterre, spending most of this time with a new pilgrim friend - Irene, from California.

 Irene took this picture of me at
the  0 cairn in Finnesterre.

I spent 16 days caring for pilgrims as a hospitalera at Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal.


 Ray and I at Refugio Gaucelmo

I was in Madrid for 4 days, staying at the OK Hostel, (highly recommend it!)


 and for 2 of those days, Julie and Michele and I were roommates as we wandered around Madrid.


 Thanks to Julie for the 2 pictures above.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I'll be posting more on my adventures.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cottage Camino - Pickering to Westney Road and Concession 9

May 26 - Fortified by a sleep in our own beds, Dave drove us to Bayley and Church street in Ajax, a few kms from where we finished yesterday. Our goal was to follow Duffin's Creek, through parks and Conservation Areas, north to Uxbridge. But the maps were inadequate, and when we used the  GPS, the Trans Canada trail  (TCT) kept appearing and disappearing  on the screen.

Here is the map we were trying to use.

We entered a park, called Major Spink Area, with the TCT designation, but soon had to backtrack. Next, through a hydro field path, then east to Westney Road. We walked some distance through the Greenwood Conservation area, ending at Pickering village museum

There we ate our lunch, at a picnic bench, and the helpful staff tried to find out the route of the TCT, as we were to follow Paddock road, and the paving of 407 cut it off just north of there.
With no clear path, we decided to walk over the 407 on Westney road, which had signs up saying it was closed to through traffic. Were we local traffic, or were we through traffic? We decided on local, and walked over the bridge.

We connected with the trail again as it goes through the Claremont Field Center, run by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
but we couldn't find the trail markings through the center, so we were back on the road again.

We ended for the day at Concession 9, and Dave picked us up and returned us once again to our own beds.
The highlights of the day for me were the many rabbits we saw on the trail, the beautiful wildflowers, and the camraderie of our fellow pilgrims. Frustrations: trying to find and follow the TCT!