Hi everyone. My name is Stephanie. In fall 2011, I mapped a route along California's El Camino Real. From April-June, 2012, I walked 800 miles along the path, from Sonoma to San Diego. I'm creating a free, online trail guide so anyone can walk as much or as little of the route as they like, and have their own experience on the path.
California's El Camino Real is popularly known as a trail founded by the Spanish, in their efforts to colonize the region. However, it traced footpaths followed by indigenous peoples and, before that, was possibly part of the migration path from Asia. Today, it's been largely paved over or supplanted by freeways and highways.
In March 2011, I returned from the Camino de Santiago with an appreciation for the benefits of long-distance walking meditation and a desire to get to know the art, nature, history, and people of my home state - on foot. (More here.) So I fundraised, mapped a route as close as possible to the original Camino Real, and walked it.
Skyline Trail, Fort Ord (between Salinas and Monterey). April 2012.
I trekked through all types of landscapes and communities - across the Golden Gate Bridge; by vast farmlands in the Central Valley; through small, meth-addled towns; up quiet dirt roads over scenic mountains, through the gridlock of LA, and along the coast. I got caught up in a police manhunt, had shabbat shots with a Sobibor survivor, watched a pack of coyotes hunt sheep, and talked my way into Disneyland. I stopped at all 21 California missions. And I experienced countless acts of kindness and hospitality from strangers.
In my travels, I met Ron Briery, who mapped and walked a path in 2011. And Kurt Buckley, who trekked it last fall. Other groups are making the trip and generating interest in the walk. Visit the Facebook page for news and participate in discussions with fellow walkers.
Online Camino Real Route Map - Leg 1
View 1. Mission Solano to Mission San Rafael in a larger map
Presentation at APOC National Gathering 3/15/13
I spoke about the walk at the American Pilgrims on the Camino's National Gathering in Santa Barbara, along with fellow Camino Real trekkers Ron Briery and Kurt Buckley. Stay tuned for updates.
Ron Briery's Online Guide to Walking the Camino Real - Available Now
Check out Ron Briery's online guide to walking
the Camino Real here: http://goo.gl/YCOuN. It includes good tips and Google maps, super helpful
for getting your bearings.
Itinerary for Biking the Camino Real
While on my walk, I met cyclist Mike Miller at Mission San Gabriel. Coincidentally, he was on a leg of his bike tour of the Camino Real. Mike generously provided his itinerary (daily mileage, trip narrative, and cost) to help others plan their own bike trips along the Camino. Check out Mike's itinerary here, and watch this space for forthcoming route map.
Get Your Camino Real Credential!
CR walker Martha López has designed a lovely credential, which you can get
stamped (or signed) at missions, lodgings and landmarks along your walk. Per
Martha, "The simple ceremony of having one’s credential stamped adds to each
day’s experience. Not only will it make a wonderful
souvenir of your walk; it will also encourage recognition of such a
journey for all who follow, whether on foot, horseback or bicycle." View an example here and here. For a free copy (or two, if you're doing the whole trail), please email Martha at firstname.lastname@example.org.