Appalachian Trail Days Festival–Great Interest in the Camino de Santiago
The 16th annual Appalachian Trail Days Festival was held in Damascus, Virginia this past weekend. Damascus, of course, is a magical place for Appalachian Trail hikers. It is widely billed as the friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail. White blazes lead hikers right out of the mountains and onto the main streets.
My booth featured my two ‘Skywalker’ narratives on the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. But the book that garnered far and away the greatest interest this year was my newest narrative, ‘The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago’ (2012). The presentation I did at the local high school drew over 100 people. I quickly asked how many of them had seen the movie, ‘The Way’, starring Martin Sheen and directed by Emilio Estevez. The crowd had very pointed questions about logistics of a Camino hike, indicating that many of them are planning to do the Camino de Santiago in the future.
Of course, French, German, Italian, and Spanish pilgrims have traditionally been most widely represented on the Camino. Americans just began discovering the Camino in wider numbers over the past five years. The enthusiasm shown by Appalachian Trail hikers, both young and old, indicates that this trend will only grow. Indeed, the number of Americans on the Camino is approximately doubling each year. For a country with a nationwide obesity rate of 22%, this is indeed a welcome trend. The more the merrier.’Buen camino’.
Bill Walker is the author of ‘The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago’ (2012). He is also the author of Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail (2010), as well as Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail (2008).