World’s Most Dangerous Trek . . . Also a Pilgrimage

Maria Mount Hua 3 Just below, I will include a little information about ancient pilgrimages to Mount Hua (also known as Mount Huashan), but first I wanted to share the photo at left. This is my son’s best friend, Maria, who insisted on making the trek herself during her recent trip to China. (She is 20). She is just behind her teacher, and she is holding her hand out to her right.

And now a bit of information on the hike itself:

The Most Dangerous Hiking Trail in the World

Looming high into the heavens, Huashan Mountain can be found approximately 75 miles east of the city of Xi’an in the Shaanxi Province. Its five peaks, when viewed from a specific angle, resemble the petals of a beautiful flower. Despite its beauty, the mountain is considered one of the steepest on the planet, ranking it amongst the most dangerous when it comes to mountain hiking trails.


The mountain itself sits amongst four others, all of which are considered the sacred mountains of China. The other sacred mountains include Shandong’s Mount Taishan, Shanxi’s Mount Hengshan, Hunan’s Mount Hengshan, and Henan’s Mount Songshan. Mount Huashan, however, is perhaps the most popular due to its difficult hiking trails.

Mount Huashan is considered one of the holiest mountains, as the Taoist temples found on its embankments were once frequent destinations during the pilgrimages held by ancient emperors. A number of these temples still exist, making the mountain a well-traveled destination for tourists, Chinese youth, pilgrims, and monks alike.

From Your Pilgrim,

More Thoughts on the Motivations Behind Pilgrimages:

Hi, all!

I found this entry on eHow and thought you might appreciate it:

Why Do People Go on a Pilgrimage?
By Sunny Griffis, eHow Contributor

“A pilgrimage is a journey to a sacred destination. This journey of discovery can be internal or external. People have participated in pilgrimages for many centuries. They are a spiritual discipline that many faiths value including Muslims, Christians and Jews, according to On Pilgrimage. Many people feel a calling to embark on a pilgrimage as a means to delve deeper in spiritual matters. There are numerous places that are considered holy to choose as a destination. Mecca, Lourdes and Jerusalem are popular choices. There are various reasons to go on a pilgrimage. One is so that modern spiritual seekers can enrich their spirituality.

Divine Relationship

A predominant reason that people of all faiths go on pilgrimages is to develop a closer relationship with God or nature. Holy locations tend to inspire a sense of awe in those who visit them. Emotions and thoughts can clear and crystallize so that the divine can more easily be recognized. Cultivating a relationship with the sacred is the central theme and benefit of traveling on pilgrimages.


Seeking forgiveness is another reason people go on a pilgrimage. A common belief among people of traditional religions is that a pilgrimage is a dedication to God that can lead to forgiveness for transgressions. Sincerity and the desire to transform negative experiences into positive ones is part of the forgiveness aspect of pilgrimages.


Many believe that holy destinations contain a healing energy. From the time of Jesus, people have traveled to sacred locations in hopes of obtaining a physical or spiritual healing. Religious preference is unimportant because anyone can pray and connect to the healing deity of her beliefs. Immersing yourself in a sacred, peaceful atmosphere can have the positive effect of nurturing your soul and your body.

Many people seek guidance for a specific issue when they voyage on a pilgrimage. When the mundane world is left behind, the ability to listen and receive guidance from God is made easier. Making a commitment to let go of problems and to fervently seek the answers from the spiritual realm can often lead to divine guidance.

Personal Transformation
No matter the original reasoning behind a pilgrimage, personal transformation is often a positive effect. Pilgrimages offer rest and renewal which can lead to personal discovery. The old is left behind and new visions of the future are illuminated. If healing, forgiveness or divine guidance has been given, this can be a powerful catalyst for change within the individual.”

I enjoyed these thoughts, and as I continue to search out interesting ideas on pilgrimages, I will share them with you.

From your Pilgrim, “Buen Camino!”

Our Group Makes the News!

Tammy birthday with Ann

Tammy birthday with Ann

Check it out! Our fellow pilgrim, Tammy Osbourne (she is on the right in this photo), who works for the Kentucky Herald, wrote this moving article about her personal calling to walk the Camino and how she experienced it.

If you click on “Next Page” on the right side of the article, you can see a few more photos. One of them is one of Tammy and me — she and I both love this photo, as we were having one of our best talks during that particular segment of The Way.

From your Pilgrim,

An Excellent Example of Commemorating the Camino Experience

Karen and Francis' frame My fellow pilgrims, Karen and Francis, sent me this photo of their own Camino experience saved for posterity. Since the two of them did the trek, you can see both of their “Pilgrim’s Passports,” along with a map of The Way of St. James, both of their scallop shells, with the cross of St. James on them, their “Compostelanas” (the certificate one receives at the end), a photo of the Cathedral of Santiago, and even a photo of our crew!

You can click on the photo, in order to see the enlarged view.

A beautiful job of framing, don’t you think?

From your Pilgrim,

A Wonderful Way to “Experience” the Cathedral . . .

Hi, everyone!

If you would like to have the “feeling” of the Cathedral without walking 100 miles to do so (!), this is a beautiful video that our fellow pilgrim, Tammy, sent us. Gregorian monks chanting “The Sounds of Silence” in the Cathedral with beautiful, close-up shots of many of the countless details to be seen inside the church:


framed mementos Well, it was definitely “spendy,” as they say in Idaho, but I’m glad I got my framed pilgrim’s passport, Compostelana, and the scallop shell of St. James all framed up as a “shadow box.”

I know this photo doesn’t really do it justice, but in real life, it looks beautiful and my husband suggested a great location for it, just at the entrance to our kitchen, which means I’ll pass by it about 100 times a day!

It was a wonderful suggestion on the part of our guides, Jason and Jeffery!

From your Pilgrim,


Vermont High Schoolers Complete the Last 91 Miles of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

My best friend in Connecticut, who owns a ski house in Vermont, told me about this small high school in Wilmington, VT after she read an article about senior Spanish students hiking the Camino.

I loved the article, and I think you will enjoy it, too, if you have already trekked the Camino, are considering it, or just like to read about others’ adventures on it!

Saludos to all from Southern California!



Tinos: Another Pilgrimage in Greece

TInos 2 In what seems like both a strange coincidence AND another occurrence of “overlap” between my two blogs (this one and, I stumbled across mention of yet another annual pilgrimage that takes place in Greece, on the island of Tinos. Herewith a brief description from Wikipedia:

“Tinos (Greek: Τήνος) [ˈtinos] is a Greek island situated in the Aegean Sea. It is located in the Cyclades archipelago. In antiquity, Tinos was also known as Ophiussa (from ophis, Greek for snake) and Hydroessa (from hydor, Greek for water). The closest islands are Andros, Delos, and Mykonos. It has a land area of approximately 194 square kilometres and a 2011 census population of 8,636 inhabitants.

Tinos is famous amongst Greeks for the Church of Panagia Evangelistria, its 80 or so windmills, about 1000 artistic dovecotes, 50 active villages and its Venetian fortifications at the mountain, Exobourgo. On Tinos, both Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic populations co-exist, and the island is also well known for its famous sculptors and painters, such as Nicholaos Gysis, Yannoulis Chalepas and Nikiforos Lytras.

The island is located near the geographical center of the Cyclades island complex, and because of the Panagia Evangelistria church, with its reputedly miraculous icon of Virgin Mary that it holds, Tinos is also the center of a yearly pilgrimage that takes place on the date of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (15 August, “Dekapentavgoustos” in Greek). This is perhaps the most notable and still active yearly pilgrimage in the region of the eastern Mediterranean. Many pilgrims make their way the 800 metres from the ferry wharf to the church on their hands and knees as  a sign of devotion.”

For those of you who define pilgrimages as involving great distances on foot (such as the Camino Santiago de Compostela), this one won’t fit the bill. However, in my world, making my way for 800 meters on hands and needs sounds rather arduous! Still, as you can tell, this is a religious pilgrimage by any definition.

Still, my intention in this category is to share with you “pilgrimages” of many types: spiritual, physical, and perhaps even pilgrimages that have purely entertainment value! I don’t mean to be sacrilegious here, but I am reminded of the professor who introduced Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez at the Georgetown University Conference on Pilgrimages, in which he included Graceland as an example!

Your thoughts?

Saludos from Your Pilgrim,

Mount Athos: A Pilgrimage For Men Only?!

Mt AthosWhile listening to NPR this afternoon, I was startled out of my reverie by the realization that they were airing a feature about a pilgrimage in Greece, to Mount Athos. The startling part, to me (and I now know, to countless others) is that the destination is only open to men. The following description is from a website I found, but I also direct you to the text of the radio feature I heard on NPR — just click here:

All visitors to Mount Athos are by definition pilgrims. Whatever reason you have for visiting them, the monks will welcome you as a pilgrim. It may be helpful to bear this in mind when planning, making, and recalling your visit. It will help you to decide such things as what clothes to wear, what books to read, what subjects to discuss with the monks, what to do and where to go on the Holy Mountain, how to approach fellow visitors, how to describe your experience when you return.

Pilgrimage means different things to different people. In English, the word means a journey undertaken for religious purposes and implies a degree of hardship or discomfort. But the Greek word for pilgrimage, proskynesis , means prostration or veneration: in other words it lays stress on what you do when you arrive rather than on how you got there. Pilgrims therefore hold quite different views on how to travel between monasteries, and the recent proliferation of roads and vehicles means that often there is a choice.

One belief that is shared by the vast majority of pilgrims and certainly by all the inhabitants of Mount Athos is that the Mountain is actually holy ground. The tradition that Athos was visited by the Virgin Mary is very much alive and accounts for the dedication of the Mountain to the glory of the Mother of God and for the exclusion from it of all other women.

The Mountain is unique for many other reasons too: for its history, its architecture, its art, its place in the history of scholarship, its music, its ecology, its flora, its fauna, its incomparable natural beauty, its seclusion, its silence, its worship. For all these reasons — and it is accepted that any one of them is a perfectly valid motive for visiting Athos — the Mountain expects and merits our respect. Clearly, this is not for all “pilgrims.” It is primarily a traditional destination for Christians — even Catholics — and yes, men only!

One quote I have found on that subject so far: “Mount Athos is the only state in the world which women are not allowed to enter, and until you arrive here you have no idea quite how weird that feels. I’d always pictured Mount Athos as a lone escarpment, like Gibraltar, but it’s actually a long finger of land, ending in a snow-capped peak, surrounded on three sides by the blue Aegean.” I am still searching for more information about that aspect of this journey, and I will update this entry as soon as I find a good resource.

And here is the link to that complete article, which I found quite informative:

“Buen Camino,” all of you! Cynthia

Most Important Pilgrimage in India . . .

This pilgrimage, which is only appropriate once every twelve years in India, caught my attention for two reasons: 1) because I was only a few months away from my own Camino Santiago de Compostela, and 2) because the number of pilgrims is so overwhelmingly immense, the news at the time this year was full of horrific stories of people being trampled to death in their quest to complete their journey. It made me think quite a bit about the lengths to which people go, in order to honor their spiritual beliefs and commitments.

I am not an expert by any means on this undertaking, but I am including a link here, in my category “Beyond the Camino” for those who are seeking to learn more about other, spiritually-based pilgrimages and/or may want to consider this one. Keep in mind, the link is a CBS news item and I can’t speak for its veracity, but I do remember when it took place recently and it seems to fit with what I heard at the time:

(Please note: there is a 30-second commercial for one thing or another before the segment on the pilgrimage!).

Buen Camino, Peregrinos!