The Paw Print
This summer, Adams State University students and Alamosa community members will embark on a hike that millions of people from around the world have completed, on el Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James. The hike is a pilgrimage route that treks over all over Europe, leading to Santiago, Spain.
The ASU students on the trip will be led by English professor Dr. MacWilliams, who has previously completed el Camino de Santiago. Dr. MacWilliams is also quite familiar with Spain, as he worked in Leon, Spain for several years. Dr. MacWilliams says, “The students participating in the trip will be journaling their travels and portions of the students’ journals will be featured in the Alumni Magazine.”Dr. MacWilliams will be compiling travel logs from students who study outside of Alamosa over the summer.
Santiago is located in northwestern Spain. The tradition is that the apostle St. James is buried there, which gives the hike a spiritual focus. A course by the same name as the road, El Camino de Santiago, will be a three-credit course. Students who are interested do not need to be English majors. However, they do need to contact Dr. MacWilliams sooner rather than later. The course will also examine the history, art, and literature tied to the El Camino de Santiago. At the moment there are just a few open slots for students. The official deadline has passed, but students can still attend, if they can secure a round-trip ticket on their own.
The cost is $1100, including all the lodging for the nights on El Camino de Santiago. Food is not an included expense. There are markets or cafes available near every stop, however. Dr. MacWilliams says a student could easily eat for $10 dollars or less per day.
The course will start on May 15, the Wednesday after the spring semester concludes. The hike will be a 210-mile journey. The average hike will be about 18 miles per day, so obviously students will need to be in adequate condition, and have proper attire for hiking.
About 200,000 people complete this hike each year. On July 25 in Santiago, they celebrate the Saint’s Day, and with most trails taking about 30 days, the busy season for El Camino de Santiago starts around mid-June. Thus, ASU students will strategically miss the crowds. Dr. MacWilliams says, “When we go, you can walk for hours without seeing anybody.”
There are many different trails of El Camino de Santiago. Dr. MacWilliams will be leading the group along the most picturesque trail. This trail was the original; today it’s the least traveled. It was first blazed in the mid 800’s. It begins in Oviedo, a coastal city, and traverses over the Picos de Europa mountain range. Dr. MacWilliams said that this trail at its highest elevation will be around 3, 500 feet. The trail, of course will end at sea level, in Santiago.
The lodging on the trail will be in hostel-like accommodations, called refugios. These are operated by an assortment of people. Some are run by religious institutions, others are done independently. Some of the refugios offer breakfast, others don’t.
With the hiking, traveling, and experiences planned, El Camino de Santiago is sure to be an exciting and inspirational trip that students will remember forever. Contact Dr. MacWilliams to get involved today!