Camino del Norte to Chimayó

An effort was made in the summer of 2012 to create a pilgrim route to the Santuario de Chimayó in northern New Mexico beginning in Denver, Colorado. Chimayó is a popular pilgrim destination in the US with tens of thousands of pilgrims making the pilgrimage by foot every year, particularly during Holy Week. For information about this destination, follow the links in the side panel.

A series of three existing routes were used to lead pilgrims between Denver and Chimayó: first, a miner’s route connecting Denver with the silver mining area of Cripple Creek; second, the Ute Indian migration path between the Front Range and the San Luis Valley that was also used by Zebulon Pike during his early exploration of the region following the Louisiana Purchase; finally, the upper reaches of the Rio Grande river used by the Franciscan Missionaries during the time of the Spanish Colonials. Most of the route is made up of graded forest roads, with the remainder on paved country roads. The route would be suitable for foot, off-road wheelchair and mountain bike.

Unlike the caminos in Spain, no network of pilgrim houses exists appropriately spaced to facilitate the pilgrimage. The feasibility of a pilgrim house system in Colorado and northern New Mexico was tested in the pioneer effort. The route originates in Denver, crosses the mountains between Monument and Woodland Park, again at Cripple Creek to Canon City, and into the San Luis Valley at Pass Creek Pass. Although the route passes through some villages and towns, shade and water stations were set up to support pilgrims with refreshments.

The pioneer pilgrims who made the pilgrimage along this Camino del Norte a Chimayo varied widely in background and level of experience. The success of the journey was overwhelming. It was a challenge for most, far beyond any effort they had previously attempted. There was general consensus that the most difficult part was that the distances were beyond the comfort level of most. The spacing of towns cannot be changed, so it is what it is. Perhaps in the future, interim stations would be established to make the stages a bit shorter though it would extend the number of days of the pilgrimage.

Advice to others interested in making the pilgrimage reasonably includes being well prepared both physically - to be able to walk 20 miles without getting blisters - and mentally - to be able to spend hours on end alone and unattached to electronic devices. The scenery, history and culture that the camino passes through is remarkable. The camino is real.

Anyone interested in making this pilgrimage is encouraged to contact the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish at 303 477 1402 or the Santuario de Chimayo at 505 351 9961. Alternatively, an email inquiry can be sent through the link above.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Public Presentation and Book Launch

On Thursday, September 6th, 7 pm in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Hall (map) some of the pioneer pilgrims will give an informal presentation about their pilgrim experience and the camino to Chimayo.

For the many people interested in going on the pilgrimage but were unavailable or unsure, this is an opportunity to hear about the experience firsthand, look at the route on maps, ask questions, and see some photos.

The finishing touches of a book about the route are being made and it will be published and available at the presentation and afterwards at the parish office and through Tattered Cover Bookstores in Denver.  More about the book in a blog after the launch.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Joyful Completion

Six steadfast pilgrims arrived in Chimayo on August 8th as scheduled, thus the Camino del Norte a Chimayo exists now for all to follow.

The re-entry into normal life is always a challenge for pilgrims.  We're recovering body and soul, digesting the experience that will never leave us.  Soon, we'll update this blog with photos and individual thoughts about the pilgrimage.  We're also working on developing some sort of group scrapbook to make our experience available to inspire those interested in making their own pilgrimage to Chimayo.
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