img_38792Several years ago, my friend Donna and I walked the first segment of the Camino Santiago Compostela in France, from Le Puys en Velay to Conques, a distance of 123 miles. We met fellow walkers from all over Europe and beyond.

Now, on June 1, my friend Judy and I depart for Portugal, where we’ll begin walking the Camino Portugues, another of the routes on the famous Santiago Compostela.

We’ll walk for a week, from Porto to Tui, then meet up with 13 more pilgrims from our Unitarian church, All Souls in Washington, DC. We’ll all walk into Spain and north to Santiago together.

The symbol of the Santiago Compostela is a scallop shell; we’ll all be sporting shells on our packs. This is my shell from the last hike. Our All Souls group have new shells, and I’m slowly drilling a hole in mine with the corkscrew on my Swiss Army knife.

We’ll be guiding ourselves on the walk, but we’ve engaged a company called Portugal Walks to book our rooms, move our luggage every day and give us guidance on getting to and from the walk. Note that I say “walk,” because that’s how the Brits describe what we’ll be doing. But for me, walking 142 miles in 12 days definitely counts as a “hike.”