Walkabout California

Hiking Inn to Inn

Tom Courtney's Blog (46)

Año Nuevo State Park – Hiking Among the Elephant Seals

Hundreds of northern elephant seals line Año Nuevo Beach – babies crying, mothers snorting, giant males roaring and defending their territory.  Mostly they are resting between birthing, nursing, mating and fighting, densely…

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Added by Tom Courtney on February 15, 2016 at 9:30am — No Comments

Calaveras Big Trees – Winter in the Sequoias

We glide effortlessly, cross-country skiing in Calaveras Big Trees State Park.  Branches sag, heavy with snow.  The air is crisp, and woods quiet.  After leaving the visitor center parking lot, it took only ten minutes before…

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Added by Tom Courtney on January 27, 2016 at 9:30am — No Comments

Bryce Canyon – a Winter Wonderland

Add Bryce Canyon National Park to your bucket list for spectacular winter beauty, hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing. We visited in late December.  A blanket of snow brought a peacefulness that was a contrast to the busy summer…

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Added by Tom Courtney on January 12, 2016 at 10:00am — No Comments

Cosumnes River Preserve – A Birding Paradise

It is dusk, and the pale December sun dips toward Mt. Diablo.  A guttural, trumpeting call comes from a group of sandhill cranes.  They glide in V-formation, long necks extended, legs stretched behind.  Descending to the harvested cornfield, they slow and break formation.  An abrupt turn, wings flapping to slow down, feet hit the ground with two awkward steps, wings fold, and they join hundreds of compatriots for the night.…

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Added by Tom Courtney on January 4, 2016 at 8:00am — No Comments

Marin Coast Walkabout - A Trail Change

The Marin Coast Walkabout is a 4-day hike from Marin Headlands to Point Reyes National Seashore.  There has been a major trail change on Day Three – from Stinson Beach to Bolinas.  The route starts out unchanged, leaving Stinson, climbing to Bolinas Ridge and hiking the Coastal Trail to Bolinas-Fairfax Road.  Bourne Trail is now neglected and overgrown.  Here are two alternative routes.

 

First Alternative:  Cross Bolinas-Fairfax Road and hike Bolinas Ridge Trail.  It starts in…

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Added by Tom Courtney on December 8, 2015 at 9:30am — No Comments

San Clemente to Oceanside

This one day, 23.8 mile “bridge hike” connects two multi-day walkabouts. There are no inns or restaurants, but the inn-to-inn hiker is rewarded with the longest stretch of accessible uninterrupted, undeveloped shoreline for over 200 miles. Hike miles of plateau between coastal mountains and the sea. Walk through Camp Pendleton where you will experience an active Marine Corps base at two miles an hour. This is a challenging hike. Be sure to bring your driver’s license. They will check it as…

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Added by Tom Courtney on July 22, 2014 at 7:55am — 4 Comments

Santa Catalina to Newport Beach: Walkabout Malibu to Mexico

This easy three day, 23.5 mile walkabout starts on the beautiful island of Santa Catalina. Enjoy the slow pace of island life. Explore Catalina’s shoreline by kayak, and hike its rugged mountains. Then take the ferry to Long Beach and hike three days to Newport Beach, strolling on classic Southern California surfing and swimming beaches. Along the way, sample the delights of interesting seaside towns – good food, fun bars, live

music, and unique inns.…

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Added by Tom Courtney on July 3, 2014 at 7:00am — No Comments

Santa Monica to Santa Catalina: Inn to Inn Hiking on the SoCal Coast

This moderate three-day, 38 mile adventure hikes a Pacific shoreline that varies from wide Southern California swimming beaches, to paths along coastal bluffs, to boulder hopping under steep cliffs where few hikers venture. It passes through sections of deep urban development as well as untouched wilderness where your only company will be sea mammals and shore birds. Along the way you’ll visit delightful beach towns, a luxurious resort, and the beautiful island of Santa Catalina.…

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Added by Tom Courtney on July 2, 2014 at 8:30am — No Comments

Exploring the Malibu Coast

The Santa Monica Mountains soar to the sky.  The wild beauty of the Pacific and its shoreline fills the senses.  Hike rocky shores below steep cliffs, unpopulated secluded beaches, and popular Southern California strands on this 3-day, 32-mile Walkabout. …

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Added by Tom Courtney on December 14, 2012 at 7:00am — No Comments

Exploring the Sierra Foothills Along the American River: Auburn to Sacramento

The American River starts high in the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. It winds and crashes through deep canyons down to the foothills where it eventually is tamed to form Folsom Lake. Released again, it flows wide and powerful to meet the Sacramento River. The discovery of gold on the American in 1848 brought a…

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Added by Tom Courtney on April 16, 2012 at 1:30am — No Comments

Santiago!

The guidebooks warn of the fierce weather in Galicia.  Storms blow in from the Atlantic bringing wind, cold, rain, and snow.  But, the weather for us, in late October, is ideal for hiking - crisp, cool mornings; warm, sunny afternoons.  In fact, I had only taken my rain jacket out twice during the six week pilgrimage because of slight drizzle.  Now, with the short autumn days, the leaves of oaks, maples, and chestnuts are turning yellow and orange.…

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Added by Tom Courtney on November 2, 2011 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Entering Galicia

Leaving the plains of north-central Spain, the pilgrim climbs and decends through the mountains of eastern Leon and into Galicia.  As each day passes and the Atlantic Coast draws nearer,  the terrain becomes more lush and verdant.  Ascending out of Rabanal for 1,000 feet, we reached the highest peak on the Camino, Cruz de Ferr, at 4,938 feet.  The trail passes through dense forests of oak, eucalyptus, birch, chestnut, and pine. Climbing out of Villafranca, the trail ascends 1,200 feet, drops…

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Added by Tom Courtney on October 29, 2011 at 11:29am — No Comments

Catholic Spain

Spain has deep Roman Catholic roots, going back, legend tells us, to Christ´s apostle, St. James, Santiago.  The pilgrim passes through perhaps a half a dozen village each day, almost all dominated by an ancient stone and wooden church.  We often stop to sit in the cool, dark sanctuaries for a moment of contemplation and to experience the beauty and devotion  represented by centuries old statues and paintings of the saints and Holy Family.  We have occasionally attended services in churches…

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Added by Tom Courtney on October 22, 2011 at 12:21pm — No Comments

Leon

I entered the narow, winding streets of the old city of Leon.  It was the day of the festival of San Froilan y las cantaderas and a grand medieval faire filled the plazas with hundreds of booths selling roasted meats and octopus, pastries, sweets, jewerlry, soaps, perfumes, clothes, wood carvings, and tarot readings.  People were dressed in renaissance costumes.…

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Added by Tom Courtney on October 15, 2011 at 9:17am — No Comments

The meseta

After hiking the verdant foothills of the Pyrenese and through the lush vineyards of La Rioja, the Camino enters the meseta, flat tabletop land that covers 40% of Spain.  For the next 120 miles the pilgrim ascends long mesas and descends into broad valleys.  Wheat fields stretch for as far as the eye can see, now freshly harvested in early October.  Rivers, lined with cottonwoods, meander through the plain.  Small medieval villages along the rivers, break up the sameness of the terrains.…

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Added by Tom Courtney on October 10, 2011 at 10:53am — No Comments

Burgos

The ancient city of Burgos was founded in 884 as a defensive fortress for the Kingdom of Navarra against the Muslims to the south.  Today´s pilgrim hikes several kilometers through stark, modern Burgos before passing through 14th century walls, under Arco de Santa Maria, and into the magical old city.  Here the streets are narrow and winding, there are few cars, but the lanes are busy with foot traffic.  People crowd the shops and sidewalk cafes.

After 13 days of hiking and 180 miles,…

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Added by Tom Courtney on October 7, 2011 at 10:07am — No Comments

A day in the life of a pilgrim

After a few days on the Camino, the pilgrim´s life settles into an easy rhythym.  Albergues may be small with only a dozen beds or big with bunk beds for 100 in a large room.  It is wise to sleep with earplugs or you will enjoy all the sounds of nocturnal humanity.

People begin to stir around 5:30am.  alarms beep, pilgrim pack away sleeping bags and prepare to hit the trail.  I usually am out of bed by 6:30 and hiking by seven.  This is my favorite time of day.  It is still dark and…

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Added by Tom Courtney on October 5, 2011 at 9:27am — 1 Comment

Entering Rioja

The Camino traverses western Navarra Province mostly on country trails, passing through small villages, always dominated by a church, the tallest building.  Pilgrims are a major source of revenue, and many villages will offer a cafe, a fountain, and possibly a small inn and/or albergue.  The harvested grain fields of the rolling farmland yielded to bountiful vineyards as the trail approaches Rioja Province, the home of some of Spain´s finest red wines.

I entered the city of Logrono at…

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Added by Tom Courtney on October 3, 2011 at 7:14am — 1 Comment

Stopping at a country inn along the Camino

Pamplona is the capital of Navarra, a semi-autonimous province, the south being more Castilian, the north, Basque.  The Basque are a fiercely independent people.  Linguists tell us that the Basque language, Euskara, is one of Europe´s oldest and has no know relationship  to any other language.  It is as if the basque…

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Added by Tom Courtney on September 27, 2011 at 2:30am — No Comments

Hiking through the foothills of the Pyrenees

The hike from Roncesvalles to Pamplona took two days, climbing and descending the foothills of the Pyrenese.  Most of the trail was on mountain paths, ascending to ridges and dropping into the valley of the Rio Arga, which the trail crossed and recrossed.  Early in the morning, before dawn, I hiked with the north star to my back and Orion high overhead, passing through the ¨woodlands of the witches,¨ a dense beech forest.  During the 16th century, it is said that covens of witches practiced…

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Added by Tom Courtney on September 24, 2011 at 7:30am — 1 Comment

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