Hi travel lovers! Jamie here.
Last week, I decided I wanted to promote some type of activity involving hiking and local travel. Since Lotus Compass focuses on pilgrimage and the Camino de Santiago, the concept of the #MyCamino Challenge emerged.
Not familiar with the Camino? Read the article I wrote about it here.
The challenge invites you to walk the average length of a day on the Camino de Santiago. That’s between 11-19 miles or 17-30 kilometers. This challenge promotes local, mindful, active travel, so naturally, I think our Lotus Compass community will be excited about it!
How the #MyCamino Challenge works
Though the challenge was originally for Instagram, you can participate even if you’re not on social media. The point is to get out there and enjoy your Camino!
#MyCamino Challenge Round 1
For the very first #MyCamino Challenge, I walked 15.5 miles through Santa Cruz. It was glorious!
I woke up at 7 a.m., got ready in the darkness of dawn, and stepped out my front door. I was ready for a day of walking! It felt very reminiscent of an early morning on the Camino de Santiago. The birds greeted each other while the neighborhood slowly came to life.
Much like my experience on the Camino Francés, I felt comforted by my own solitude. I welcomed my inner companion to shine through as I continued walking. Since the pandemic uprooted me and my community at Esalen in Big Sur, I’ve experienced a lot of isolation and loneliness. #MyCamino showed me a sense of comfort in my aloneness.
With that being said, I also met a couple of lovely people along the way!
I met a woman doing her own ritualistic morning walk, Katherine. She said, “Walking allows the essence of who I am to arise as the outer world interacts with my inner experience.” “Like synchronicity?” I asked.
“Like synchronicity.” she confirmed. “Like the harbor seal jumping up and playfully saying hello to me from the harbor, reminding me to lighten up. Or the monarch fluttering with me for part of my walk, mirroring my busy mind.” I smiled at the image. Nature is interacting with us. It’s only when we pay attention that we begin to notice.
We walked together for about a mile, comforted by the reminder that finding common humanity with strangers is still possible – even if at a distance.
Next, I made sure to stop at the local bagel shop, the Bagelry, for a late breakfast.
In total, I walked for a total of 5 hours and 41 minutes. I enjoyed gorgeous ocean views, traversed California state parks, and saw many different parts of Santa Cruz.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted and happy. I reached Wilder Ranch State Park after 15.5 miles of walking. Even through my exhaustion, I was excited for the next #MyCamino route planned for the weekend!
#MyCamino Challenge Round 2
For this round of the #MyCamino challenge, I walked with my partner and our mothers. Hiking + family time! Win, win.
We planned to walk about 11 miles south from my house in Santa Cruz to Aptos, CA.
From the start, I enjoyed the camaraderie of a long hike with good people. Conversation flowed as we moved along. We took a route following the coastline, which boasted amazing views. My partner, who is a Santa Cruz native, was shocked as he discovered parts of town he never visited.
I noticed the contrast between solo walking and group walking. Round 1 of the #MyCamino Challenge felt more inward, more introspective. Round 2 felt lighter, lively, and joyful. Both are good! I felt a deep sense of gratitude for the day having spent time walking with people I love. As Henry David Thoreau says “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
For planning route the day before (easiest on a computer) – On the Go Map
Now it’s YOUR turn (and your town)! Are you up for the challenge? I’d love to hear about your experience on your walk!