April, 2018

D-3 Brenner in Italy

I pretty much followed the Sill River and made it over the Brenner Pass into Italy. Yeahhhh!

But I had a challenging day not only because of 13 miles and over 2,000 feet of climbing, but some small parts of which were so steep that I had to side step up the hill. The weather was gorgeous except for some gusts of heavy winds. But, NO rain. Then during  one very steep forest climb, the foresters blocked about 200 feet of the path with newly cut tree branches—couldn’t go around because it was too steep and I didn’t want to go back. So thanks to Pam (fellow mission walker), I invoked her mantra: “Suck it up, buttercup.” And 30 min later I made it through and without a fall. Interestingly, as I came out of this section there was a “Forbidden Entry Sign due to forestry activities,” but not when I entered at the bottom of the hill. Oh well.

Still gorgeous scenery. Am now at 4503 feet and the snow is still a bit higher.

The quad picture just shows a sampling of the types of trails. And, of course, there’s the “Do not enter” sign.

Day 2 Still in Tirol Austria

On my second day, I walked an easy 9 miles from Patsch to Matrei am Brenner—and still in the Austrian State of Tirol. Beautiful weather and breathtaking scenery all around me. Learned (or, refreshed) two lessons today: (1) when you think the path has ended, it surprises you and keeps going, and (2) stop to smell the roses!

The picture of the path says it all. Then I came across a miniature scene in front of a secluded house on a huge slope. He had an inviting bench for visitors to appreciate his miniature  scene as well as the grand scene all around. I stopped and truly  smelled the roses.

Day 1 (Had to Renumber) First Day of Walking

First day of hiking from Innsbruck to Rome—only 10 km, but 1500 ft climb. The symbols were clear: (1) The smaller the sign (2” x 3”), the more brutal the climb, and (2) barely 10 min into my first brutal climb, I met a life-sized crucifix telling me “to suck it up, because I suffered much, much more”!


Am now at the small town of Patsch, at an elevation of 3326 ft with breathing just a little bit harder than it was yesterday, but I’m quickly acclimatizing. Staying at the Bär Hotel and into my routine to be repeated 47 more times: arrive, check-in, shower, do laundry, nap, eat, and sleep—pretty simple.

The views all around are breathtaking.

D+3 Day before I Start Walking

Tomorrow, April 28th, I actually start walking from Innsbruck, Austria on the Via Roma toward Rome. On the 17th of May, I’ll take a train from Padua, Italy over to Florence and walk the Via Francigena to Assisi and on to Rome. Am I excited or what! Innsbruck is so beautiful and its old town is so quaint—I could spend a week here. It’s like a homecoming! Situated in a valley and surrounded by mountains, Innsbruck is the perfect place to start for me, and where else but at its St James Cathedral! (1) St James (on right side of the main altar) (2) Old Town Innsbruck, (3) St James Cathedral

D+2 Innsbruck, Austria

Started in Stockholm, Sweden today then flew to Munich and having a 6-minute Connection from Munich Airport train to train to Innsbruck, I made it. All this after three travel days, but what scenery there’s here in Innsbruck, Austria at the foot of the Alps. All in all, it went pretty well. I love Google Maps now that they keep the route you googled and it updates your location (all in airplane mode without using anyone’s WiFi). That allows me to use the route and walk without getting lost as in from train stations to hostels.

Plan to rest here tomorrow and look around and get myself a pilgrim’s credential for the first part (pre-Florence).

Had to attach the awesome snow-packed alps all around.

D Day About to Leave Los Angeles

Am about to board my Air Norwegian flight to Stockholm, Sweden. Will stay overnight there and proceed to Munich on April 25th. So far, so good.
Here’s a pic of me patiently waiting.

D-4 Last Week of Training


With only four days to go, I finished my last week of training. On Monday, April 16th, I met my goal of climbing 3000 ft and a round trip of 15 miles. The pics above were taken at my high point. On Wednesday, Belle Cook (one of my two hiking buddies) was my “trainer”—-who pushed me to finish our 16.4 mile hike from Ventura to Carpinteria (and that was with my backpack). Geoff (also our hiking compadre) met us near the end and treated for beer and snacks.

D-12 More Training Ahead

Had an exhausting training session of 10 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2100 ft at my favorite area behind St Thomas Aquinas in Sisar Canyon. This area still shows the charred landscape caused by the fire that can be seen in the pictures.

D-15 Barely Two Weeks to Go

Although I led a group of 17 members of our Southern California Chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino on a fantastic mile-high hike, it was good training for me as well. The trail was in the San Gabriel Mountains behind Altadena, CA, known as the Mount Lowe Road Trail to Inspiration Point. A scrumptious picnic followed as well as a shell ceremony for one of our members who would soon depart on his own Camino. We all huffed and puffed together on the 1000-foot climb. Here are pictures of our group at the start and destination of our hike.