Northern California Chapter

The regional chapter for Northern California, centered on the San Francisco Bay Area, was established in January 2011. Broadly stated, the purpose of this local chapter is to keep members connected to the Camino and to introduce new people to the phenomenon.  We accomplish this in a number of ways, such as social events, walks, mentoring future pilgrims and serving as a local host for hospitalero training through American Pilgrims.

NorCal Chapter events will be listed here and on our Facebook group. If you live in the area, request to join the group at:

We can also pair you with an experienced pilgrim who can answer your questions on how to prepare and what to expect. Contact chapter coordinators Laurie Ferris and Guy Joaquin at to be added to the NorCal chapter email list or to be connected with a mentor.


Welcome Home Potluck
Saturday, November 11, 2017, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Help the Northern California chapter celebrate this year's returning pilgrims at our annual Welcome Home Potluck. We'll be gathering at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Oakland, near the border with Berkeley. This year's theme is Beyond the Camino francés and we hope to inspire you to think about Camino routes other than the most popular and well-traveled Camino francés.

We've invited several pilgrims to share their experiences with different non-francés routes in 10x10 presentations (10 photos in 10 minutes). After lunch, we'll take Camino Class of photos and returnees will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a little about their experience. Doors open at 9:30 AM and we plan to finish up by 3:00 PM. Open to all (American Pilgrims members and non-members both). 

RSVP: To help us with planning, a response is required. Use our online RSVP page to respond by Thursday, November 9. Please, online responses only. 

GETTING THERE: St. Augustine is located at 400 Alcatraz Ave. off of College Avenue in Oakland. Meet us on the bottom floor of the gym/multi-use building across the courtyard from the church (follow our yellow arrows).
BY CAR: From eastbound 24, take the Claremont Ave. exit and turn left onto Claremont Ave. Turn left onto Colby St. then left again onto Alcatraz Ave. From westbound 24, take the College Ave. exit. Turn right onto College Ave. and then left onto Alcatraz Ave. The church is on the right side between Dana and Colby Streets. The parking lot is located on the west side off Alcatraz Ave.
BY BART/BUS/FOOT: From the Rockridge BART station, take AC Transit bus 51B towards the Berkeley campus and offboard at College/Alcatraz (15 min). Walk west on Alcatraz Ave. to St. Augustine (0.3 mi). To walk from the station, head north along College Ave. towards campus and turn left on Alcatraz Ave. (0.7 mi). From Downtown Berkeley BART, take 51B from Allston/Shattuck towards Rockridge BART and offboard at College/Alcatraz (25 min). Walk west on Alcatraz Ave. to St. Augustine (0.3 mi). 

WHAT TO BRING: Your favorite dish or drink to share. Extra points for something from the Camino. Wine counts, too! Here's a request to cover our bases: If your last name begins with A-P, bring a food dish (main, side, salad, with serving utensils). If it begins with Q-Z, bring a dessert or beverage (coffee will be provided). We'll have 3x5 index cards on hand to make a label for your dish. 

EL RASTRO: El Rastro is a gigantic flea market in Madrid. We'll hold our own version again. Bring your excess gear, memorabilia, guidebooks and other good junk you thought you needed, but don't anymore. There will be an area to display your items. This will be a cash free zone. Bring it and forget it! See something you want? Take it. 

RETURNEE INTROS: If you'd like to share during the after-lunch hour, we welcome you to let us know when you walked, what route, and, if you wish, one (just one, please) takeaway, lesson or special experience from your Camino. To keep things moving along, we'll keep presentations to a few minutes per person. 

CHAPTER T-SHIRTS: We'll have a small number of shirts available for purchase at the party. Basic crew in dark blue printed with a yellow shell and "Solvitur Ambulando" (It is solved by walking) from St. Augustine. Price (at cost) is $20. Cash only. Please note that this is a local offer and not organized, endorsed or sponsored by American Pilgrims on the Camino.


First Saturday of the month, Convene 10:30 AM, Depart 10:30 AM
Meeting point: Lake Merritt Pergola, 599 El Embarcadero, Oakland, California 94610
This is an informal gathering that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. The group meets at the Lake Merritt Pergola on the east side of Oakland's Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and starts walking promptly at 10:45 AM. It's a level walk 3.3 miles around the lake and takes about an hour. If you decide to join one of these walks, make sure to give yourself enough time to find parking as there are many activities Saturday mornings in the Lake Merritt area. We walk in a clockwise direction around the lake, so if you are running late, you can catch up with the group.

There is an optional brunch after the walk for those interested in gathering with other pilgrims to talk about the Camino. It would be a good idea to bring cash to pay.

To RSVP, join the NorCal Chapter Facebook Group, Peregrinos Northern California and click on the Events tab. Look for "Lake Merritt Walk + Brunch" and click Join.


2017 Pilgrim Blessing and Spring Potluck

Resource documents:
Getting Started on the Camino de Santiago
• Packing for the Camino
• Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino
• Camino Websites
Leave No Trace: Ethics for the Camino

Scott Williams Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino: Part 1
Scott Williams Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino: Part 2 
Scott Williams Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino: Part 3 

CaminoFlix Lending Library - an exclusive program for APOC members:
Among the many benefits of American Pilgrims membership, NorCal chapter members are eligible to borrow DVDs and other items from our CaminoFlix Library for free. Learn more at: CaminoFlixLibrary.pdf.

Hike Rating System:

The Northern California Chapter uses the system below to rate our hikes. A rating consists of a number that corresponds to the total estimated distance in miles of the hike and a letter that corresponds to the total estimated elevation gain for the day. Generally speaking, there will be an equal amount of descent.

Distance                                       Elevation Gain
  1: Less than 6 miles                      A: Less than 1,000 feet
  2: 6 to less than 10 miles             B: 1,000 to less than 2,000 feet
  3: 10 to less than 15 miles           C: 2,000 to less than 3,000 feet
  4: 15 to less than 20 miles           D: 3,000 to less than 4,000 feet
  5: 20 or more miles                      E: 4,000 or more feet
As an example, a hike of 8 miles and an elevation gain of 1,200 feet would be rated as “2B.” In some cases, hikes may also have a size limitation and/or special conditions. Do not hesitate to contact us at, if you have questions about the level of difficulty or conditions of a hike.

Member Camino blogs and websites:
• Bill Sewell's blog of his journey in the spring of 2013 from Sevilla to Santiago:
• Laurie Ferris maintains a blog dedicated to planning for the Camino and sharing stories about the pilgrim's journey. You'll find her Camino portugués travelogue from May 2016 on the blog at She plans to walk the Camino inglés in 2017 and Camino francés in 2018.
• Member and San Franciscan Mike Miller has written a blog about his two Camino experiences. The Camino portugués in the spring of 2014, and the Camino francés in the spring of 2015. Mike hopes to walk the Camino primativo in the fall of 2016 and continue his blog entries. His blog address is

To stay connected you should consider joining the NorCal Chapter Facebook Group, Peregrinos Northern CaliforniaAlso you can visit American Pilgrims on the Camino on Facebook for great dialogue, photos and a running commentary about the Camino from like-minded pilgrims around the country.

Rev 10/15/17