Be Thankful, Love Life

Be Thankful

It has been a long time since I have posted my rambling thoughts and adventures. Not sure why. Perhaps due to my return to work during the last  four years, along with new friendships and relationships having  taken my time and focus. Perhaps because this phase has been harder, and I have been less sure of my next steps, direction and desires…

I guess the place to start is where I am now and how I got to this point. After packing every free moment with adventure and discovery for the last five years I have spent the last twelve days mostly in solitude in Mazatlán and now in Puerto Penasco. I’m working out how I got off track and reflecting upon what is next?

How can I recapture a servant’s heart? Repair relationships damaged in this whirlwind of change? Find a kindred spirit who is not put off by my love of being social as well as my need for solitude out in the wilderness?

I have stayed  intentionally quiet these last twelve days limiting my activity  to sunrise walks, a simple diet, early bedtimes and moments of gratitude so profound that I weep. I have experienced equal moments of sadness and regret, feeling so lost that I weep some more. Mostly trying to stay in the moment, accepting the feelings of pleasure or discomfort as they arise and releasing that which no longer serves.


Perhaps a recap of the past few years is helpful, to remember where I started and where I have spent my time.


The beginning:

In 2010 I started to awaken to the understanding that while I was grateful and blessed with a huge loving family, all was not well with my heart and soul. I was not happy and did not know why.

I had been shutting down emotionally for several years but life was full of activity.  So I just pushed down those feelings and moved on. Around this time my nephew– a young man I adored– was battling brain cancer. His courage and commitment to living his life fully was something I will never forget. The way his wife, mother, father and sisters pulled together was a testimony to faith, endurance and their abiding love of Brandon. Living in the moment, finding humor and grace in the simple act of fully living were Brandon’s hallmark traits.  His passing is something my heart has still not recovered from. My love for him will never fade.

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Mary Schnack

In 2011: My neighbor and dear friend, Mary, was in the depths of battling another round of cancer. A seventh round of surgery went off course resulting in a stroke. She became partially paralyzed, blind and unable to speak. With the help of family, an amazing community and the support of Hospice, we brought her home to my house to care for her.  While the community and my family took care of her during the day, I continued to work and took the night shift.

Mary was a force of nature, fearless, driven and uncompromising in her desires, work and mission. She was generous in her friendships while at the same time demanding in her expectations of all those around her. I loved her magic–that gift of making connections and looking for opportunities for those in her circle.  She was magnificent and exhausting in her unbelievably fearless and demanding nature!

During the long nights Mary liked to hold my hand while I read to her. Often after Mary fell asleep I would have hours to think deeply for the first time in years. I contrasted our lives and began to understand that I needed a change of course. I had no idea what that meant but I knew I was going to find out no matter what the cost. It was Mary’s courage seeping from her hand and heart to mine that propelled me on a journey of which I was not yet aware.

Mary ended her battle in early 2012. It was in my guestroom that she passed, with me telling her that it would be okay and that it was time to let go.

We laid her to rest next to her father and celebrated her life in Sedona with people flying in from all around the world to pay their respects and share their memories of her.

While all of this played out I battled demons of second guessing:  Was that last dose of pain meds too strong? Was it I who expedited her passing? Had I correctly understood the directions from Hospice over the phone? Did I load the syringe with the right amount of drugs???

There were so many gut- wrenching moments combined with self-imposed isolation. I never shared my fears and grief about this with anyone. During this darkness I knew my only way out was to deal with the pain of Mary’s passing and to finally address my own lost joy in life that her departure had brought to the surface.

I had to get off this spinning hamster wheel of life and find time to heal.

Somewhere along the way I recalled desires of walking the Camino of Santiago pilgrims’ trail.  This 500 mile long trek slowly became my obsession.

Although it terrified me, I quit my job and began training for my first big walk. With the support of family and friends I began to regain my health, lose weight and train to be fit enough to physically handle this first solo adventure. None of it was easy.

I often woke up at night hyperventilating and filled with fear and second thoughts. I was largely responsible for the financial security of my family, so what was I doing??? HOw could I fly to Europe and walk so far alone? But I did do it after all and learned for the first time what it takes to be afraid and do it anyway.

On a sunny day in September 2012 I walked out of St John Pied de Port to cross the Pyrenees Mountains and make my way across Spain to Santiago de Compostela.

My first Camino– a 500 mile journey of discovery, beauty, joy, and pain was an experience that changed my life forever.

(The original blog has my day to day posts with feelings and experiences along the way.)

What remains with me is the day my heart opened and I named my pain. It changed everything. I accepted the pain and knew I could and would face this pain and put it behind me. What followed was a time of immense JOY, spiritual and physical awakening.


Camino Frances 2012

God felt near for the first time.  Peace exploded within me and I knew all I could do was to continue to grow and change. I was now committed to finding out what my heart and spirit needed to flourish. I fell in love with people and their stories. I longed to keep the memories of the amazing pilgrims I met along the way alive in my heart and thoughts.  A desire to bring the lesson of the Camino into my daily life. While traveling solo I realized that I could do more, challenge myself more and become responsible for my own well-being and no longer blame others for my shortcomings and loneliness.



Dingle Way, Ireland 2016

2013: I returned home November of 2012 and within a few months I knew I needed to return and walk another Camino. This time it was the Camino del Norte (500 miles) followed by a good chunk of the Vezelay Camino in France.  It was a summer filled with pure joy. The Norte Trail always went up into the mountains only to return to the sea. It was physically challenging and splendidly breathtaking. The pilgrims I met along the way still hold a special place in my heart. I still communicate with a few on a regular basis.

I arrived in Santiago, celebrated the 500 mile walk and then flew off to Paris to begin part II of my long Camino on the Vezelay Trail which largely follows the Bordeaux wine region, eventually ending back where I started in September 2012 in St John Pied de Port. What more can I say about the wine, the food and the lovely French locals that took such great care of me along the way?

Camino Norte 2013

2014: When I returned home from Europe in July of 2013, I began to think about walking a wilderness trail solo. The John Muir Trail called to me and I once again became obsessed with gaining the knowledge and physical strength to walk this 220 mile long wilderness trail  in complete  solitude.

Summit Mount Whitney JMT 2014

While I trained and my August departure loomed near I was once again filled with paralyzing fear. What was I doing? How could I ever sleep alone in a tent in the complete wilderness? What about the goddamned BEARS?

I completed the hike in twenty-one days. I discovered a new-found strength and courage in adversity that I did not know I had. I returned in the best health and stamina of my life. I met people who inspired, challenged and changed me forever.

By 2015 I was longing to return to do another pilgrimage and took on the Portuguese Camino. A lovely walk with a community of pilgrims that I won’t forget. Still to this day they give me hope and inspiration.

2016 was a brutal year full of conflict and remembrance of a childhood trauma that took my innocence and faith. Yet, I ended the year peacefully walking the Dingle Way in Ireland with a dear friend. If you have not walked in Ireland you are missing out.  The landscape, music and fellowship of locals along the way is not to be missed. I even got to sneak in a small Camino– the Kerry Way!

Tour Mont du Blank 2017

September 2017 found me walking a tough trail along the Tour Mont du Blanc. Yet another epic adventure, this  time out allowed me to  realize I had neglected my growth in recent times. I needed to release an unhealthy relationship that had sapped my joy. I realized that God and my own Being again wanted me to have the peace, joy and return to the simple pleasures that living out of a backpack brings.

My dear friends, family and fellow pilgrims, I end this rambling hot mess of a post by returning back to today, December 31, 2017, with the close of another year. Back to the place I started at the end of 2011, searching my mind, heart and soul for answers of what am I placed on earth to accomplish?

Can I find the courage to face this next phase?

Will I get over the momentary heartbreak that has consumed the last few weeks?

Will I put my house in order and once again accept the fear of delving into the unknown, guided by faith alone? This is my desire, my prayer and my hope.

I pray that each of us finds our heart’s desire and why God has placed us here at this moment in time.

I pray we all find or rediscover our servant’s heart—

That we find a way to bring joy and comfort to others.

That we ask for forgiveness wherever needed and we forgive our own shortcomings.

I wish all of us a blessed 2018 filled with love and acceptance.


Ps: All of my posts have left out the rich details of my journey. I have been encouraged to share those private details by many friends and Camino pilgrims. My goal is to find the courage to do so in 2018.

Posted in Bobbie Surber, Buen Camino, Camino de Santiago, Camino del Norte, Camino Frances, Camino Portugal, camino Vezelay, Chemin de Vezelay, John Muir Trail, Mary Schnack, Portugal. Camino Portugal, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, St James's Way, the Way | Tagged | 1 Comment

Day 6 Ballydavid to Kilcummin

9/17/16 Where to start? Spent the night in Ballydavid at an Air B&B with host Patrick Murphy, the kindest, most generous host of all time. He picked up on our interest in the history and culture of the village and off we went to explore the area including:

12th century church where his parents rest in peace. The Keyhole to Heaven with a heartbreaking story as ancient as time; those with money persecuting and taking advantage of those without.

Then onto a 7th century church and ancient Beehive dwelling ruins

The next morning Patrick was kind enough to drive me back to the trailhead for the hike over the pass of Mt. Brandon. The weather was not great and locals were concerned about my solo hike. I assured them of the fog drifted any further down I would return. That said, I did have a moment of nerves looking at the climb! 

​The hike to the top is about 3.5miles straight up, no switchbacks just soggy, boggy uneven footing to the top then an unbelievable steep downhill with even less stable footing! By 6 miles you are on a dirt, mud filled road and grateful for it!

It is then an easy 4 mile hike down into the village of Brandon. 

This was a day I had been looking forward to. It was Mt. Brandon in honor of my nephew by the same name. I wanted so bad to summit in his honor. The peak was impossible with the pea thick fog but I made it to the saddle with the peak above me. When I made it to that damn muddy road I looked back at the mountain as the fog rolled over the top and down to the valley floor. Ever so slowly the fog seeped onward with fingers of fog reaching down spreading across the mountain while the top of the fog lifted up to the heavens. It was awe inspiring, magical, a moment in time that felt like a blessing, a gift given yet not earned.

I knew in that moment that the peak was not important that it was the day of remembrance that mattered. I knew Brandon  would be proud as much as I know how grateful I am to have had that amazing young man in my life. How I’ll always honor his love of the outdoors, that no one remained a stranger more than 5 minutes and that his family meant everything to him. 

The day was physically and emotionally draining. A perfect trail day, a moment I’ll never forget.

To you my dear Brandon, Sláinte

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Day 5 Dunquin to Ballydavid

9/16/16 our easiest walk so far. About 10 miles split between road walking and three wonderful beaches. An earlier stop for coffee and lunch perched on a stone fence overlooking the sea.
Then on to Ballydavid and our Air B&B for the night. Before I could call Patrique Murphy our host he pulled up beside in his car and invited us to the pub for a pint. Off we went met s few locals, drank a pint of Guinness then back to the B&ab to rest. So I thought however Patrique had other plans. First was a church from the 9th Century. All dry stacked stone and still no leaks in the stone roof.

7-8thr century chirch Ballydavid,Irl

Then on to a church, Kilmalkedar from 7th century by St. Moalcethair. Patrique told us a story of the Cro Na Snaithde (keyhole window) in the church and that if you fit through you you get to heaven. The story goes that the church caught on fire and the starving Irish made it out but the overweight oppressive English land barrens parished in the fire.

Finally back to the house for a peaceful nights sleep.

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Day 4 Dingle to Dunquin

9/15/16 Whew this was the hardest day so far. 14 mile day that started by departing  Dingle heading to Venty, about 4 easy miles other than it is all hard surface. Ventry has a small post office combo grocery store. Took a nice break and met some very kind local ladies hosting a fundraiser for Hospice. The locals had baked their best desserts for the event and they invited me to join the event. Two cups of coffee and more sweets than I care to admit I was ready to hit the next 1o miles. 

As soon as you leave Ventry you are treated to a nice long beach walk to the other side of they bay. School children were busy cleaning up the beach and locals were walking along the beach enjoying a bit of sunshine.
Next up was a bit of road walking along Sledge Drive with dramatic views of the sea before turning up to Mount Eagle. A tough climb for several hours through sheep pastures and dramatic views of the sea. 

The path was wet, uneven and a thigh burner but the day was as lovely and as magical as you would hope to find. I wish I had the words to discribe the uniqueness of walking through a new land. You get a chance to see a vista unfold, smell the earth, local bakery, the smell of livestock, getting to witness the locals, the tiny in between places that a car can never reach. You experience a level of intimacy that cannot be duplicated by any other mode of transportation other  than your own two feet.  My heaven for sure.

Besides the views and walking along ancient walls of stones we got to see many Beehive ruins. Ancient dwellings from the 9th century.

About the time I could not go uphill anymore the trail took a steep decline down to the road and the start of the entry to Dunquin.

 A stop for coffee and another two long miles on hard road to the Youth Hostel and the exceptionally kind host that takes such great care of her guest. Another great day!

View from Hostel.

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Day 3 Inch Strand to Dingle

9/13/16 left Inch Strand after another huge Irish breakfast and made our way to Annascaul following trails and secondary roads overlooking the bay then turning inland to Annascaulwith more secondary roads leading to a rocky beach and castle. 

Followed by Saint John the Baptist Well which I can find little about on the Internet.

after leaving the beach it was a few miles to Lispole then on to Dingle.

So much to share about Dingle. First stay a few nights as this is a not to miss destination. A small easy to walk village with music at every turn, fantastic shops and a great place to restock, clean up and get ready for the remainder of the trail. 

Not to miss is Dick Macks Pub which is a serious Whiskey bar and extremely knowledgable bartenders. For music just pop your head in any pub and you will find Ireland’s version of Nashville with hundreds of talented musicians on every corner. A stand out is Courthouse Pub. A sliver of a pub with an impossibly low ceiling, friendly staff and my favorite music in Dingle. 

Dick Macks Pub

Sunset over Dingle Harbor 

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Day 2 Dingle Way/ Kerry Camino- Camp to Inch Strand

9/10/16 Sunday was an unexpected  restless night after a wonderful light dinner of fresh shrimp and salad followed by the immensely entertaining evening at Railway Pub owned by a long bearded Irishman named Mike. Each  Sunday the locals gather to play their instruments and sing. So lucky to be welcomed by the large gathering of locals. Mike hospitality included a drive back to the B&B. I was tuckered out any 10pm. I think it was the combination of Guinness, Whiskey and the local boys that wanted to twirl me ever so un-gracefully across the miniature dance floor that did me in!

9/12/16 Valerie the host of the Lurraga House B&B prepared a full Irish breakfast. You cannot imagine the size of such a breakfast! I’d like to tell you I could not finish my plate of egg, sausage, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms & brown bread but sadly I report to you that I cleaned my plate. Valerie is a kind and generous host with bright sunny rooms with very comfortable beds

After Breakfast a short walk to Inch Strand.  7 miles following a track through sheep country, a little mud and some steady hill climbing. ☘the views could not be more tranquil and I felt my life at home slipping away. What seemed so monumentally important a few days ago now seemed silly in retrospect. I had found my way once again to the land of peace as I enjoyed the steady climb, the impossibly green country side and the sheep looking at me seeming to wonder why I was in their territory.

In all too short of time I found myself making my way down a steep incline that was more of a little creek of running water than an actual trail to Inch Strand Beach.

If the countryside was peaceful the sound of waves breaking  at Inch Beach sure lit up my heart and my day. I think if you’re  born to be near water there is no greater joy than standing at the shore being lulled by the waves.

Next was the check into the Strand Beach Hostel a very clean and friendly place with small dorm rooms or private rooms. Serves a free large continental breakfast or for 5€ a full English breakfast. Across the street is a bar and restaurant with a fine selection of Whiskey, good food and friendly service.

Another great day on the trail.

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Day 1 of Dingle Way/Kerry Camino. Tralee to Camp

Saturday night in Tralee. A lovely small city that is the county seat of Kerry. Arrived by train with a short walk to Castle  Hostel which turns out to be more of a B&B. Private quiet room with private bath. A fast visit to St. James ,  scouted out the start of the hiking trail and found the Kerry Camino with the icon of all Camino trails,the scallop shell.
Felt a bit a nostalgia looking at the path sign outlining the 3 day Kerry Camino. Daydreaming of my past adventures while the excitement grew for this one. By the way Dingle Way shares the same path as Kerry Camino. A true 2 for 1 deal which will allow me to add another Camino route to my list 🙂

Back to the first day of my hike. Sunday 9/11/16: Overslept, late start and epic wind/rain along the trail. Whew, the Irish weather living up to its reputation! Fortunately found recovery at the end of the day in a sliver of a pub in Camp which was built by the bartenders great  grandfather. 

 Then off to find  Lurraga House B&B ran by a kind and welcoming owner Valerie. A small nap, shower, threw on a scarf to dress up my hiking clothes and   I was ready for my evening at the pub! Sunday night at the Railroad Pub the locals gather to play their instruments and sing.The pub was right out of an Irish small independent film. The characters embracing our visions of rural Ireland by their welcoming hospitality, music, song, and dance. Even had a stumbling turn on the dance floor myself. Mike the owner busy working behind the bar took the time to drive us back to the B&B. The traditional music and singing has been the highlight of the trip so far!

I could not ask for a better first day, just cannot keep from smiling. 

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Night in Dublin

I took the bus from the airport last night to the city center with a blustery short 10 minute walk to my Hostel. A fast check in, short nap and back out at 9pm for a light bite to  eat, a wee little pint then off to bed. 

Well that was the plan I had scripted for myself but Dublin had other plans in store for me. 

As I walked into a local pub packed to the roof with Friday night revelers I found myself with barely enough room to squeeze inside the enterence door. The pub was so full that it seemed impossible to get to the bar let alone a table for my dinner.

 But it’s Ireland… so barely inside the door when a lovely Irishman started chatting me up. With pleasantries exchanged he quickly informed me that I was officially welcomed to Dublin and he was off to get me a pint. He somehow performed a miracle by  floating to the bar through a sea of locals mixed in with a few tourist like myself that were lucky enough to find this gem of a place.

Meantime my  Irishman returns pint in hand and he performs his second miracle of the night by getting us both through the crowd , past the music with couples dancing to the back of the house without spilling even a drop of mothers milk from my pint glass.  Where to sit was resolved by a group of Germans on a long weekend holiday that invited us to join them. (Continued  below) 
Needless to point out that the Irish and Germans have their love  of beer in common and the night flew by. Several pints down, a shot or two of good Irish Whiskey and all of us singing a mixture of Irish music sprinkles in with Niel Diamond, John Denver and a few other oldies but goodies. 

When did I get to bed? Oh my,  before sunrise but not enough before to beat sunup before passing out on my bunk bed. 

First night done and it was a great time. Uber lift to the train station this morning with the drivers hearty laugh still ringing in my ear after he asked how many sights did I see last night?  As I informed him just one little pub he burst out laughing and declared me to be a good Irish woman at heart.

Never did get around to dinner 😇

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Off to Dingle Around Kerry and Dingle Way!

I have skipped blogging my hikes the last few years. No sure why but looking forward to sharing my Ireland tramping around. Looking forward to great hiking, pubs, locals and the brisk weather of the Dingle peninsula.

Right now or BA flight from Phoenix to London then on to Dublin. Spend a night then train to Tralee and the start of my hike. 



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John Muir Trail


Top of Forester Pass. JMT August 2014

Top of Forester Pass. JMT August 2014

Before we know it we will find the summer zooming by before it even seems to get started. I know in another blink it will be the first anniversary of my JMT hike!JMT August 2012 039

I shared before hard to write about the JMT, odd as the journey was all I had hoped and dreamed it would be. The trail is strenuous but I was fit and ready for the challenge. The fears that I anticipated and worried with so much vigor were not what I ended up struggling with. So much wasted worry about bears and sleeping alone in the wilderness. Little did I know it would be lightning storms at the Passes where I was the highest point on the  treeless peaks summiting with crashing lightning and hail. Gripped firmly to my  metal hiking poles!. Who knew this would be my near emotional undoing! Bears, no worry, sleep, the minute your head hits the rolled up jacket serving as your pillow 🙂

JMT August 2012 038The first week is truly a lovely forested romp it is week 2 and 3 that will shape you, test you, and see if you can summon up the fortitude and grit needed to complete the journey. Many quit out of exhaustion, injury, missing their loved ones or just harder than they thought it would be. I was lucky or stubborn or determined or… I don’t know, I just dug in sometimes beyond all reason to continue to the end. The in-between moments and what kept my spirits high was the unbelievable landscapes changing at each turn of the trail or summit. The fellow hikers, their kindness of spirit and our common goal to summit Mount Whitney kept me from loneliness and reminded me we could depend on each other if needed. The longing for the next day to come, the next pass, the next valley, and the next lake filled with trout, the next view that would challenge you to deny a master Creator of such magnificence. This is what drove me to get up each morning and start again.

Bear Canister tucked away for the night!

Bear Canister tucked away for the night!

I miss the JMT, long for it with a dull ache that won’t go away. I can push it aside with work, family, friends and new adventures but that longing to escape alone into the wilderness, to have no other job in life but to hike, eat, sleep and the luxury of the occasional bath and steaming plate loads of food  taunt me to return!

To embrace nature, aloneness, and time to think, feel and live is so strong at times that I drift away struggling to live in the present, to attend to my duties and obligations. Oh, no one warns you that you will love or hate this life; rarely will you be indifferent by the experience. And if it is love, you spend your nights dreaming of the next moment your feet hit the trail, your sprit lifts and the mind wonders…JMT August 2012 246

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Why Have I Waited So Long To Post My JMT Experience?

I have no idea other than the JMT was a life changer and the meaning and depth of the journey has taken time to sink in and appreciate what I have learned and why I was called to the JMT.

Summit of Mt Whitney 14,504ft August 2014

Summit of Mt Whitney 14,504ft August 2014

So stand by as I promise to sent a weekly update including photos of my experience on the JMT August of 2014.

Bobbie 🙂

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JMT Departure

This is it I leave soon, now, ready, almost, yes, ready. OK  I’m leaving for the shuttle to the trail head now!

Fast progress report.

Friday’s flight from Phoenix to Mammoth lakes via LAX: All went well until minutes before landing in Mammoth when the wild fire smoke was so bad that a rather panic sounding captain aborted and back to LAX we flew.

As luck would have it my seat mate lives in Mammoth part of the year and we have common friends and ties to Sedona. Two guys behind us were on their way to hike the JMT. We formed a posse, rented a car at LAX and drove to Mammoth 6 hours away. 

Randi (seatmate) put me up for the night, feed me lunIMG_5485 IMG_5483 IMG_5482 IMG_5492 IMG_5490 IMG_5503 IMG_5502 IMG_5501 IMG_5495

On the way toward Rush Creek, Ansel Adams Wilderness

On the way toward Rush Creek, Ansel Adams Wilderness

Dreaming of JMT!

Dreaming of JMT!

ch, gave me coffee, assured me I could do this trail and made me feel like family. Warned Randi that I would be tracking her down when I return.

Next day, Saturday Jenny, my Couchsurfing host took me to Mono Lake, out for a huge feast of a dinner, sorted out my bag, gave me a ton of tips for the JMT and is the most generous CS hostess in the world. Warned Jenny I would be tracking her down after my hike as she most certainly is now one of my daughter.

A few photos to enjoy. Perhaps in 5-6 days I will be able to post from Muir Trail Ranch. If no internet (often not working so I’m told) I will post from Independence, CA  my 2nd restock location in about 12 days.

Happy Trail, Buen Camino and pray you all have a mid life crisis as fun and as adventures as mine! 🙂 



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John Muir Trail Departure Two Day Away!

Pathetic Emotions: It seems a trend with me, departure looms and I become this

Dreaming of JMT!

Dreaming of JMT!

crazed mixed bag of conflicting emotions. As the date closes in I feel calmer, more sure of myself that I’m up to the challenge at hand. Yet, I also experience something close to melancholy, closer to tears, feeling a little lost, wanting to bundle up in my bed and hide out for a bit. I think it is the realization that once again I’m leaving my home, family and friends to take on another solo trek. The walking away can oddly be addictive and sad at the same time.

OK, so much for the “poor Bobbie” going to hike the JMT don’t we all feel so sorry for her!

Backpack: Pack almost ready, weighing in this morning at 30pd minus water, misc. gear

JMT Backpack

JMT Backpack

and my tech stuff. Thinking I will come in around 38pd top weight. Almost nothing besides sleep gear and the damn Bear canister and food.

Description of John Muir Trail: The best kind of friend is someone who has know you since childhood and still cares about you despite all of the baggage!  My friend Chip Williams sent the below description of the JMT to me this morning via Facebook.

The John Muir Trail passes through what many backpackers say is the finest mountain scenery in the United States. This is a land of 13,000-foot and 14,000-foot peaks, of lakes in the thousands, and of canyons and granite cliffs. The John Muir Trail is also a land blessed with the mildest, sunniest climate of any major mountain range in the world.

On the way toward Rush Creek, Ansel Adams Wilderness

On the way toward Rush Creek, Ansel Adams Wilderness

The trail is 211 miles long and runs (mostly in conjunction with the PCT) from Yosemite Valley to Mt Whitney, in California. Winding through the famed Sierra Nevada, the JMT visits some of the crown jewels of America’s park system: Yosemite, John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The John Muir Trail section of the Pacific Crest Trail will mark you forever. And now one of our crown jewels (Bobbie Surber) is going to conquer it. Live Fast Live Hard Live on.

Communication: I will be sending my InReach text number to those who are interested and will send occasional text with a map that you can go on-line and view exactly where I am on the trail. Will also post this info on my Facebook so look me up Bobbie Surber in Sedona, AZ.

Photo Above: Hope you Caminoist noted my shell is still with me!

More to follow!


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John Muir Trail, Ready or Not!

JMT MAPWhat a wild ride the last year has been. And when I say last year I’m referring to my return almost a year ago from my summer in Europe hiking all of the Camino Norte in Spain and a good portion of the Vezelay Camino in France. Returning home last August I did my usual glad to be home, time to settle back down and focus but within weeks the urge to plan another Camino was taking over my thoughts at every turn.

Never have I been so indecisive with an ever changing list of destinations, dates and ideas. I would focus on each for weeks at a time but never committing to a plan enough to work out the details and commit the funds. Through all of this was the John Muir Trail and my growing desire to tackle a solo true bad ass wilderness hike.

Thoughts of getting lost, being lonely, BEARS, and nights spent alone far from any road or sign of civilization crept into my dreams and shy’ed me off course. Work conflicts, family and other commitments seemed to support JMT as unrealistic. Then a few more backpacking trips in the magic land of Arizona renewed my desires and pushed back the fears. I wanted, no needed to do the JMT! If I fail to finish then so what, I fail. But if I succeed, if I overcome my fears ah more freedom, release, live life in the moment, find further my center, my…Bear Canister

Oh how I love to rattle on. So end of my post is I leave August 1st to hike the JMT finishing around August 21st. Opportunities will be limited to post to this blog but expect a few messages and full report after my return home.

In the meantime, PLEASE watch this documentary, the best I’ve seen covering the JMT. The boys in the film walked South to North (much harder) and I will be walking the same trail as most hikers North to South. John Muir Trail 2013 – A Journey Through The Range Of Light John, hiker and filmmaker has been so generous with his advise and a true comfort that my plans are solid.

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Remembering the Camino

Bobbie Surber on Camino Del Norte waiting for the boat to Somo

Bobbie Surber on Camino Del Norte waiting for the boat to Somo

It’s been a long time between posts; I guess I have been trying to avoid the Camino… It seems this is unavoidable as more Pilgrims return from their first walk. Their intoxicating, I’ve lived, I know the secret… flows from them in a way that is impossible to avoid. I’m blessed to listen to their stories, view their photos, passports and hear how the Camino has changed them.

They have discovered the lessons, joys and insights they were meant to learn. Both a peace and restlessness reflect in their eyes and in their stories. They want what all pilgrims want, to hold on to a life lived in the moment, a freedom not experienced in our western civilization. They yearn for the joy of living simply with gratitude. It’s a difficult task, re-entering “normal” life while still living life as a pilgrim.

Whatever normal means… Never the same again for me. I’m still on the quest after four Camino’s and the longing to return is palatable, unrelenting in its call. What to do? For the moment it is reveling in my dear friend Carl who is walking the Camino Frances. Walking the same steps I walked in 2012. The photos make me laugh and cry. I reminisce as I witness yet again through his camera, his story and his lessons the chance to relive my own story, to remember the joy, release and pain of the trail.

I read the posts by Tim whom I met on the Camino Norte and live again the grand adventure of last summer. The magic of climbing into the mountains yet always returning to the ocean. Tim’s re-posting of the summer of 2013 remind me of my summer of joy, the difficult lessons behind me and the hard work of recommitting each day to live the life I want, to enjoy each persons unique story, and to let go of my endless expectations of what should be.

Thank you Carl and Tim for the memories. Thank you to all of the Pilgrims that have reached out to me… so generous in their sharing of photos and willingness to help the next wave of Pilgrims. I’m immensely grateful to all of you.

To those who dream of a life beyond what they know now, I pray that you step out and find the Camino of your dreams, that you reinvent what you believe is your destiny. Trust that at any age your future is within your grasp… Joy and adventure are always within your grasp, all you need to do is take the first step.

Buen Camino my lovely past and future Pilgrims, Bobbie

Trail to Samos Fall 2013

Trail to Samos Fall 2013Bobbie

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Our Webpage on APOC is Live! Follow Northern Arizona Chapter Events!

Northen Arizona Chapter of Americans on the Camino

Northern Arizona Chapter of Americans on the Camino
 of the Northern Arizona Chapter of Americans Pilgrims on the Camino.


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Film Night in Flagstaff! Campus Coffee Bean

After taking on wilderness-oriented trails in the U.S. (the Appalachian and Pacific Crest) and making films about his adventures, Scott “Squatch” Herriott decided to go International. So he spent a couple of months walking and interviewing folks caminoalong the Camino de Santiago in Spain and France in the spring of 2013
For more details visit out MeetUp page at:

Film: A Jaunt Along the Camino de Santiago

Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:00 PM

Campus Coffee Bean and Grill
1800 South Milton Road

4 Members Went

After taking on wilderness-oriented trails in the U.S. (the Appalachian and Pacific Crest) and making films about his adventures, Scott “Squatch” Herriott decided to go International. So he spent a couple of months walking and interviewing folks along the Camino de Santiago in Spain and France in the spring of 2013. Hilarity and Culture ensue.

Check out this Meetup →



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More about the documentary; Walking the Camino, six ways to Santiago

           The Film’s Message

Walking the Camino presents universal themes through personal stories for those seeking to redefine the way they live their lives, to deepen their relationship with themselves, and to rediscover their connection with the world in which they live. Many refer to the Camino as a ‘metaphor for life,’ in that each person must determine and find their own way – what is right for one may not be for another. There is no single right way to do the Camino, nor to live life.

Our film will speak to young viewers in the process of self-formation, offer a way for retirees and mid-lifers to reflect on their past and possibilities for their future, and encourage our disabled population to think beyond their limits. Rather than merely entertaining with mental diversion, the film will engage its audience in an active rumination on their own lives.

The Camino provides a structure with no agenda where one can develop themselves from the inside-out. Walking for miles with only nature and their thoughts for company, pilgrims are forced to step out of their comfort zones, look inward and examine their fears, insecurities and prejudices towards others.

Out of such self-awareness inevitably emerges open-mindedness and generosity, as pilgrims help each other reach the finish line. Generosity emerges in touching moments of kindness: when one pilgrim suffers from a heavy load and cannot go on, another carries their backpack without a second thought; when one runs out of cash, another will loan even a complete stranger whatever they need. The Camino is a great equalizer, where our differences become irrelevant and our similarities more apparent.

Our documentary, just like the Camino itself, will create this sense of global community and spark a dialogue about life’s biggest questions. Amidst a time of considerable social malaise, Walking the Camino will illuminate what enables us to transcend the perceived boundaries of race, language, social status, age, faith and nationality, and remind us of what is best about being human.

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More Great Press about the documentary: Walking the Camino six ways to Santiago

So excited as this film debuts in Sedona tomorrow Friday March 7th! Also Lydia the director will be here Sunday for the last two showings of th day with a Q&A to follow.

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Let’s Attend the Documentary: Walking the Camino, Six Ways to Santiago

My Pilgrims Compestela for Camino Frances Fall 2012

My Pilgrims Compostela for Camino Frances Fall 2012

Hey Sedona and northern Arizona; Let’s get out and support this documentary about the Camino de Santiago walk. Hearing great feedback about the film and it is showing in both Scottsdale and Sedona starting March 7th!

This film has won many awards, international praise and a lovely endorsement by Martin Sheen stating “A brilliant documentary”

Details: We are meeting at the Reds Restaurant in west Sedona inside the Sedona Rouge Hotel March 7th at 5:30pm for wine and tapas. We will then walk across the street to see the 7:45pm showing at Sedona Harkins theater. This is a no-host event and we suggest you purchase your ticket ahead of time at the Sedona Harkins Theater

See how you can help promote this documentary at Walking the Camino, six ways Santiago

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