Let It Go

Back in 2012, I bought an Osprey Hornet 46 backpack for my upcoming Camino walk. In the outdoor supply shop, the backpack sales guy put weight in the bag and let me walk around the store. I didn’t need an enormous bag since I wasn’t going to be tent camping. I needed something light but durable. I also liked that it was red.

That backpack was on my back for the Camino de Santiago in 2012 and the Via Francigena in 2014. Because it was a perfect sized carry-on, it went with me on several plane trips. In the last few years, it also went on several overnight sailing trips with me. The last time I used it was on a sailing race from Santa Barbara to Redondo Beach. In addition to holding my stuff, it also was a nice pillow during the night.

Right after I got on the boat, I discovered that the backpack’s lining was starting to shred. It was some sort of rubber compound, and it got on all the stuff in the bag. It appeared to be a reinforcement layer. Still, the bag came through the trip totally fine.

Back on land, I discovered Osprey had a generous repair policy. They will repair any Osprey bag. I just had to ship it to Colorado. I filled out the online form and sent the bag to them. On the online form, I checked the sentimental value box. This red pack had been my faithful companion on my long walks and sailing adventures.

A week or so later, Osprey called me. They could not fix the lining of the bag. I had two options: they could send the bag back or they could replace the bag. However, they no longer made the Hornet 46, so I would be given an equivalent. Osprey sent me some options.

I trekked to the local outdoor supply shop to try out the potential new bag. I put it on, and a different backpack sales guy helped me adjust the straps. Once again, I walked around the store and went up and down stairs. It was different but also super comfortable. It was basic black. The fabric felt different. The straps were wider than the Hornet 46, but I liked it.

Still, I would be giving up the Hornet 46. Could I do it? Faithful companion. It didn’t just hold my stuff. It held my hopes and dreams. We had been through rain and mud together. Then, I remembered something I learned on the Camino. It was just a thing. Let it go. I am sentimental about it, but does that mean I have to keep it?

So farewell, Osprey Hornet 46. You served me well. Hello, Osprey Talon 44. Let’s do some adventuring.

One last curtain call for the Hornet 46. . .

Walking Offseason on the Via Francigena


From late October through November this year, my partner and I walked for 28 days on the Via Francigena from Fidenza (an hour and a half train ride out of Milan) to Rome. Because we both worked in the summer months, we had to wait until the end of October to start our walk, so we were walking offseason.

With almost no knowledge of Italian, we stumbled through Italy for 600 kilometers through sun, rain, and mud. We had done the Camino Frances in Spain, but the Via Francigena in November was tougher. The route was well-marked and sign posted, but the infrastructure was not as strong as in Spain. In some places the accommodations were limited. Also, the route could go a whole day without passing into a town although the cappuccino was consistently excellent.

Still, I liked walking the Via Francigena. It was like the Camino Italian Style. On our walk, we went over the Cissa Pass and into Tuscany with some beautiful landscape. There were also some amazing churches along the route especially in Lucca and Siena. After Tuscany, we went into Lazio, walked through Bolsena, Viterbo, and finally into St. Peter’s Square in Rome.


Like the Camino, pilgrims carry a credential which gets stamped at every stop. Then, you can get a testimonium if you walk more than a hundred kilometers. Even though I was focused on getting to Rome for most of the walk, I did not pursue the mighty testimonium. I guess it wasn’t important to me anymore. Maybe I really am a slacker pilgrim at heart.

If you are thinking of walking offseason on the Via Francigena, there are both advantages and disadvantages. There were no crowds of pilgrims on the Via Francigena and no crowds of tourists in Tuscany. We only met only one other walking pilgrim in our month on the road although we did see pilgrims a few days ahead had left notes in the books at the osperias (pilgrim accommodations).

In November, many of the osperias were closed, but in the ones that were opened, we were the only pilgrims in the place. When there were no osperias, we stayed in B&Bs which were around 45 euro for the night for both of us while the osperias ranged in price from donation to 40 euro for both us. Also, most of the osperias had no heat, so it got mighty cold at night.

Speaking of heat, it was never too hot or too cold for walking. When it rained (and it rained a lot), the temperature stayed warm. It would be cold in the morning and after the sun went down (which was early, usually by 5pm). We walked north to south, so temperatures got warmer as we went.


When we finally made it to St. Peter’s Square, we were able to sit in the sun and soak up the heat like the little lizards we had seen on our walk. We had also gotten to see an Italy that most tourists don’t see.


And yes, I am writing a book about it.