Two New Hampshire girls hike the 500-mile Camino de Santiago to raise money for women around the world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mom-Daughter Teams on the Camino, Interview: Catherine Hooper

For information about and photographs of Trish, Alex, and Sage's most recent hikes, please visit our main website at Trish, Alex, and Sage.

Mom-Daughter Teams on the Camino

Interview: Catherine Hooper

The girls and I had such a magical time hiking the Camino in 2013.  What I noticed there, however, is the same thing I continually notice here in the States -- mom-daughter hiking teams are rare.  I'm speaking specifically of adult mothers hiking with their under-the-age-of-18 daughter(s), without the father or any other man.

Men are fine and wonderful, of course, but I believe women and girls need to see more and more examples of mothers taking the lead and heading out there with their daughters. Alex, Sage, and I were the only mom-daughter team I saw on the Camino (we were on our own more than half the time, with Hugh flying in on occasion).  We were the only mom-daughter team I saw or heard of on the John Muir Trail in August 2014.  I don't know of any other mom-daughter teams highpointing (with the daughters being under the age of 18).  Here in the Whites, I know of only two other moms who get out there with their daughters on any kind of regular basis.  There might be many mom-daughter teams I don't know about, of course -- but wouldn't it be great to see their stories all over the blogosphere?  The mom-daughter hiking team niche is fairly empty out there in cyberspace.  Kudos to Jennifer and 13-year-old Abby Lane, who completed Vermont's Long Trail last July -- that is one story I heard of over the summer, and their accomplishment is wonderful.  If there are blogs or news stories I have missed, then please contact me at and let me know.

I'd like to do my part in bringing attention to mother-daughter hiking teams.  Therefore, I am starting an interview series.  For now, the focus is on the Camino de Santiago.  Any mom-daughter hiking team who has completed a section of the Camino de Santiago and who would like to be featured on this blog can contact me at  Be sure to put "Camino" in the subject line.

I am kicking off this series with an interview with Catherine Hooper, a New York City resident who recently tackled part of the Camino Frances with her ten-year-old daughter, Sophie.  Catherine sent me an email of greeting, peregrina to peregrina, after she and Sophie returned to the States from Spain.; I asked her the following questions and she graciously provided her responses.  The interview, and the photographs provided by Catherine, are published on this blog with Catherine's permission.

Interview with Catherine Hooper

Catherine Hooper and her daughter, ten-year-old Sophie

What prompted you and your daughter to hike the Camino?
Because of the way the school calendar fell this year, my daughter ended up with three solid weeks free between school and camp.  A nearby playground notwithstanding, there was no way I could keep her cooped up in New York for all of that time.  I wanted to do something with her that had the potential for physical, educational, and spiritual development, and that allowed the two of us to connect even more as mother and daughter.  Sophie’s stepdad, who passed away the previous autumn, had read a book called A Sense of Direction by Gideon Lewis Kraus.  In it, the author explores three different pilgrimage routes including the Camino de Santiago.  In addition, my stepdaughter would be walking the Camino during that time as well.  So this journey was the option we chose.

What were the dates you began and ended?

We left New York on June 4 and returned on June 22.

Where did you begin and where did you end?

We began in Ponferrada and ended at Santiago.

How many miles/km per day did you average, and how many days did you take off to rest?
Because we were only walking for about two and a half weeks, we took no days off to rest.  We walked between 10 and 15 miles a day.  

What were your favorite places and why?
There are so many favorites!  A place that really stands out in my mind is Cacabelos, where we stayed at a roadhouse called Moncloa Lazaro.  Because of the way that the inn sat upon the road, and the flow of caminantes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an overnight stay, it really felt as if we were in the Canterbury Tales.  The local town choir also practiced their singing in the meeting hall, so we got the experience of a concert as part of our stay.  It was such a warm and welcoming place.  Also, of course, O Cebreiro was a huge highlight.  There is a certain magic to that ancient Celtic village.  And, as a history buff, I could not get enough of exploring the chapel and museum. 

What were your favorite experiences and why?
Mostly, my favorite experiences were with my daughter – both in sharing time with her, and in seeing how other people reacted to her.  You know, you think you know your daughter because you see her every day, take her to school, take her home, have dinner together… but what I realized on the Camino is that so much of our conversation during the school year consists of “put on your shoes, pack your school bag, don’t forget your flute, do your homework, it’s time for bed..”  On the Camino, we really got a chance to know one another as people.  We talked so much about her ideas about herself, her dreams, and her ambitions.  I became aware, for the first time, of how much she wants to please me and how much that motivation drives her – and this is something I want to help transform into self-drive!  But I also loved seeing other people react to her.  My daughter was the only child we encountered on the Camino, so people treated her with extraordinary respect and delight.  She loved it, and I loved seeing the growth in her self-confidence.

Were there any particular people who stood out?
I will never forget this argricultadora with a massive cherry farm along the way from Cacabelos to Villafranca del Bierzo, who came down from the ladder she was using to harvest cherries and brought armfuls of cherries for us to taste.  She was an extraordinary woman – so strong, so beautiful, and while not a speaker of English, so communicative!  She was made of love and acceptance.  That emotion characterized much of what we encountered along the way.  Also, of course, the clergy in Santiago were incredible souls.  Because the space was so crowded, one of them came out into the crowd and took Sophie inside the gate to watch the Botafumeiro from that special perch.  There were no words exchanged, or regulations followed or broken – just someone coming and taking my kid away from me and inside the velvet rope!  Perhaps because we don’t speak the same language, our communication had to happen on another level that made it profound.

What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
 Before undertaking this journey, I thought I might have to overcome my 10-year-old’s unwillingness to walk fifteen miles a day.  She often complains on the one-mile walk to school!  But she rose to the challenge entirely, and her stamina was not an obstacle.  One challenge we dealt with, rather continually, was the Spanish culture around food.  My daughter and I prefer a paleo diet for the most part, and basically, the Spanish would just not respect our choices.  On the first day of our Camino, we stopped at a cafĂ© for eggs and bacon – a standard road breakfast for us.  At the conclusion of the meal, our server brought us two enormous slices of chocolate cake covered in chocolate syrup – on the house.  We felt somewhat obligated to take a few bites, even though neither of us typically eat sugar or grain.  As we left, we laughed about it, failing to understand that this experience would happen again at every place we stopped, three meals a day, for the entire time!  By day four, we had gotten pretty good at wrapping up the gift of cake into a napkin and tossing it into a bush a few meters down the road!  We might be the only two people who actually gained weight on the Camino.  There were sugar pushers at every stop – and often, the only choices at meals were bread, bread, and more bread.

Were there any particular pieces of gear you felt were particularly helpful?
 Yes – a Camelbak was essential.  I’m not sure how people do this entire walk carrying water bottles.  Having a large reservoir of water that would last most of the day meant we rarely had to stop!  Also, while my daughter and I talked a lot, the afternoon was for audiobooks!  She listened to ten books on her summer required reading list, and she read them at night.  I listened to Barbara’s Tuchman’s massive 14th century history, A Distant Mirror – and it took the entire walk!  A great book – but something I could never have sat and read given the amount of time required. 

Any tips for other moms who would like to tackle the Camino with their daughters?
I would say, don’t get down on yourself if you can’t make the entire walk from St. Jean, or carry all of your things on your back, or stay in bunkhouses every night.  You are making a big step by undertaking this journey in any form.  There is a mild form of one-upsmanship that you might encounter along the Camino, where people will ask where you started, or how far you are walking each day, or if you are carrying everything or using a shuttle service.  Forget winning in anyone else’s eyes, and win in your own!  Having this time and this experience with your child is its own form of victory.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life Post-Camino (Eight Months Later...)

We've been back from Spain for eight months.  The Camino continues to influence me...I expect it always will.  Visit our main website to read about my personal Post-Camino Lows, Highs, and Changes.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

John Muir Trail 2014

Our next fundraiser will be for Feeding America.  We plan on hiking the John Muir Trail during the summer of 2014.  Join us as we plan, prepare, and then post our progress -- GIRLS ON THE WAY - JMT 2014.

You can also join us at our main site,

Ultreia, perigrinas!

Monday, May 13, 2013


Our Camino is over.  Kind of.  Though we are no longer in Spain, we walk on.  In mind, body, and spirit, we walk on.  Ultreia.

Thank you for following and supporting our journey.  Our adventures will continue in New Hampshire...and soon they'll continue in other parts of the world (stay tuned).

Please join us over at our main blog, Trish, Alex, and Sage

Buen Camino, peregrinas.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Alex and Sage's Videos, and Walkin' It Off

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Walkin' It Off's Jennifer Miller.  Jenn's an adventurous and inspirational "gypsy mom" who travels the world with her four homeschooled kids.  We are honored to be included in her blog!  Read the interview here.

Alex and Sage took a ton of photos while walking the Camino.  Without any prompting or input from me, they each made video compilations of their footage.  They chose the music and made all the edits, they figured out how to work the applications, they did...well, I as said before, everything.

Here's Alex's video.  This is the first time Alex has ever put together something like this; it turned out quite well.

Here's Sage's.   Hers gives an excellent feel for the terrain we covered and all the different weather events we experienced during our Camino.

I'll be back late Tuesday evening (EST) with announcements regarding our long- and short-term hiking plans, potential future charity fundraisers, and the imminent revamping of our main blog, Trish, Alex, and Sage

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Over $10,000 Raised for Global Fund for Women and GirlVentures!


You folks are responsible for our success.  Yes, the girls and I did the hiking, but we would have done that anyway, with or without a noble cause to spur us onward.

One can't hike for charity unless people actually care about you, your trip, and/or the cause.  It's noble to put forth the effort, but if the endeavor is financially fruitless then nothing much has been accomplished.  Fundraisers depend on people actually giving funds.

That's where you came in.  In spades.  We are so, so grateful.  Thank you.  Can't say it enough.  Thank you.

We raised a total of $5009 for GirlVentures and we raised at least $5050 for Global Fund for Women.  (New Hampshire's Portsmouth Brewery will soon make a donation to Global Fund for Women; I will announce Global Fund for Women's grand total after that check has been received.)

I'd like to publicly thank the following people and organizations for their generous donations of money, time, space, and/or services.  Global Fund for Women and GirlVentures are wonderful nonprofits that champion equal and human rights for girls and women.  By donating, you supported females all over the world.  Again, with all our hearts, thank you.

Aubuchon Hardware Store (Moultonborough)
Jennifer Bauer
Jane Blanchard
Michael Boyle
Samantha Brady
Brooklyn Boulders
Mike Carrafiello
Stephanie Chan
Tim and Valerie Charboneau
Candace Cheatham
Sandy Dimick
Clay Dingman
Don Eidam
Robert and Janice Ellis
Joni Esser
Jessica Fuller
Sarah Garlick
Russell Gilbert
Caroline Griswold
Nancy Griswold
Tracy Haskell
Sandra Heaney
Henry Whipple House Bed and Breakfast
Ellen Hoffman
Pamela Ireland
Eunji Kim
Hyo Kim
Minna Kim
Richard and Susan Kipphut
Kristina Kirkham
Alejandra Krogh-Winkler
Lahouts (Lincoln)
Beth Lampron
Denise Langlois
Laure Latham
Marcy Light
Stephen Maguire
Karen Maineri
Marianne McCall
Erin McKittrick
Christian Meyer
Bridget Mooney
Mount Washington Observatory, The
Mountain Wanderer, The
Mark Newman
Leslie Nicola
Mark Nunan
Lance Pinn
Portsmouth Brewery, The
Melissa Quinn
Mike Robertson
Peter Rombult
Brian Rosenfeld
Michelle Roseto
Margaret Salt
Kelly Scott
Shaws Supermarket (Littleton)
Rick Sladewski
Steve and Carol Smith
Cynthia Spring
Sarah Stewart
Kerri Still
Styx Restaurant, The
Karine Thate
Emily Thompson
Martina Tibell
Elizabeth Trought
Mark and Natalie Truman
Mark Tuckerman
Neal Brian Uy
Gayleen Vanderkamp
Bethany Walker
Jeremy Ward
Don Whitworth
Mara Yale

And...the hundreds of people who bought raffle tickets last November and December!

This was our first time hiking for a cause -- but it will not be our last.

Coming even sooner (as in, tomorrow) -- Alex and Sage's Camino videos.