Finally on the Camino

Beth and I are on the Camino. After more than a year of planning and studying, we landed in France and walked into Spain. A day or so of speaking French and all my Spanish flew out of my head.

But as we crossed the bridge into Irun, we just heard Spanish. No English, no French.

We can see the Pyrenee in back of us, but not for long.


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Asheville Camino Group

Various Camino Routes

How did the Asheville Camino group grow so quickly?

It all started with Tom Sanders, a leader and a fixture of the Carolina Mountain Club.

Ten years ago, he approached several men in CMC to see if they would go to Spain with him and walk the Camino de Santiago. No one had heard of this trail in Northern Spain but thought it was intriguing. Four guys took him up on it and they became the Five Amigos.

The next year, with one change of amigos, they went on a different section in Europe. See the photo above – Don W., Tom S., Chris S., Carroll K., and Jay B.

And the idea of walking 500 miles in Europe and staying at hostels (albergues in Spain, gites in France) took hold of our imagination.


Now we have hundreds of hikers from Western North Carolina who’ve walked some part of the Camino in Spain, France, Portugal, Switzerland and more. You can attend a monthly meeting at REI Asheville, the first Monday of the month.

On Tuesdays at 9 am, you can join other enthusiasts for a tertulia, an informal meeting of people, at Green Sage Cafe at Westgate.

We’ve created an 18-mile walk through Asheville which we’re dubbing the AVL Camino. We have a Facebook page and soon will have a website.

Inspired by all this knowledge and enthusiasm, I walked Le Chemin de St. Jacques in 2013 and will soon start (or continue) in Spain. So whether you’re a dreamer, a planner, a veteran of the Camino, come on out and meet us.

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.