John Muir Trail and El Camino

18 Feb

Our next guest blog is sent from traveler (and Durand’s mom) Anne Trench. Glad we could inspire you. Thanks for doing the same for us!



“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John of the Mountains: the Unpublished Journals of John Muir, 1938


Some years ago, I learned of a spiritual journey, an old pilgrimage route called the Camino Santiago in northern Spain. Since the middle ages (if not before), pilgrims from all over the world have walked this path that follows old Roman roads. They walk to the city of Santiago de Compostela, where St James, one of the original 12 apostles, is said to be buried. Many continue to Finisterre, a promontory on the Atlantic that people in Roman times thought was the end of the earth.

The Camino Frances, the most popular of the many Camino routes, leads pilgrims over the Pyrenees in southernmost France and some 500 miles across northern Spain. Today peregrinos walk for many reasons, some to ask for intersession from St James, some to lose weight, and some just because it’s there. Like John Muir, I want to walk it to go in.


At age 63, can I really walk 500 miles, going day after day? When I told my husband, John, I was going last fall, alone if I had to, I’m sure he thought I was crazy. Seeing Durand’s film, Mile, Mile & a Half was a tipping point of sorts for me and perhaps, for John too because soon after he decided to come.


And the more I learned about John Muir, the more I knew that for me Muir and the Camino are connected. Did you know that Muir began adulthood as a promising young inventor and industrialist? He was well on his way to success when he was nearly blinded in a factory accident. To heal, he had to sit for three months in total darkness with his eyes bandaged. When the bandages came off, he literally walked away from his previous life (1000 miles from Kentucky to the Florida Keys) and never looked back. Had the stillness of those dark months led him to enlightenment? He certainly led the rest of his life as if it did.

For us, the Camino starts officially tomorrow from the Porte D’Espagne in St Jean Pied de Port, France. Will it change our lives? Who knows but like John Muir, we will “go out to go in” and see what happens…