EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PILGRIMAGE
If it’s your first time on the pilgrimage, or it’s been a few years, click each section below to learn how everything works. We’re here to make sure you have a Holy, Healthy and Happy pilgrimage!
The pace of the walk is fairly standard and moves at a reasonable speed. The pace does change slightly according to the terrain (pavement vs gravel, hills vs flat).
Approximately each hour, there is a 10 to 15 minute break for pilgrims to rest, refill their water bottles and use the portable restrooms (see the Assistance section below). If you’re curious as to when the next break is, you can always ask your Chapter Leader.
For full details on the route for each day, visit the Route page here.
If you’re a beginner or haven’t been out on a decent hike for a while, you need to let your body know you’re going to be pushing it beyond your afternoon stroll for this Pilgrimage. Here are some tips to get yourself in shape for 3 days of walking/hiking.
- Starting in mid may May, walk or hike two or three times per week. Make sure to move briskly enough to get your heart rate up, and then keep up that pace for at least 30 minutes.
- Be sure to wear the same shoes that you’ll be wearing on the Pilgrimage – at least 2-3 weeks in advance. A sure-fire way to get blisters is to walk for a long time in shoes you haven’t worn in a long time (or are new!)
- Carry a lightly-weighted daypack on your walks. That way, you’ll make sure you’re prepared to carry your essential Pilgrimage gear.
- Do various stretches, starting 1 week before the Pilgrimage, and ESPECIALLY throughout the entire weekend. Just look up basic stretches for hiking.
Many children aged 10-12 have successfully walked the entire pilgrimage. However, for children under 10 and parents pushing strollers, there are partial sections of the pilgrimage route which are well suited for you too!
From IC Church to Lunch is paved, mostly flat, and great for strollers.
From Lunch to Higgens Point is more hilly, but still paved.
The first 2 miles are paved, then it turns to gravel and continues a long climb to Lunch. After the first two miles, only a “baby jogger” would work. The afternoon follows an off road hiking trail, and any type of stroller is unable to make it. This trail is also unsuitable for any small children due to it’s remote location and lack of support vehicles. Anyone wishing to avoid this stretch of trail and take the Aid Van directly to the Rose Lake camp after lunch may do so.
A majority of the route is paved, and where it is not, the road is hard packed gravel, which is suitable for a good stroller. The walk is slightly hilly, but the pace this day is a bit slower to accommodate the larger number of pilgrims, as well as older and younger pilgrims. A good stroller could make it all day. Note that this day also involves the most dangerous vehicle traffic conditions.
The Aid Van follows the pilgrimage the entire way except Saturday afternoon (see below). At any time, a Pilgrim may stop and stand on the side of the road and let the 5-10 chapters pass, then get into the van at the tail end of the pilgrimage and ride as long as they would like. The Aid Van will drop off the Pilgrim at the next break, or the Pilgrim may get out and temporarily join the last (back) chapter until the break.
At the beginning and end of the Pilgrimage are your “Cataldo Sheepdogs” – that’s Mr. Klaske and Mr. Latham. They keep the pace, start and stop the Pilgrims at breaks, make sure the Chapter Leaders are all set, and round up any troublemakers.
At each break is our friendly Support Crew driving a truck with a tank of fresh drinking water, and also pulling a trailer with portable toilets. At each break, Pilgrims can fill their water bottles and use the toilets.
On Saturday, a portable toilet will be available throughout the morning for girls and ladies only, since the National Forest gives men a plentiful supply of restroom options.
After lunch on Saturday, the aid van and water truck can NOT follow the pilgrims for the next 8 miles, so additional water must be carried and “restrooms” at the break are reached by a short hike for each gender. Anyone wishing to take the Aid Van directly to the Rose Lake camp after lunch may do so.
We advise you to bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer and some “mountain money” (toilet paper) in your backpack.
During the pilgrimage, there is a doctor and medic in the center chapter, and an EMT at the back of the pilgrimage (your rear “Sheepdog”). Contact your chapter leader with any issues during the walk portion, and they will contact the medical team.
In camp, contact Dr. Linley for any other medical needs, including help with blisters.
On Day 2 (Saturday) afternoon, the route covers an off-road hiking trail which can be moderately rough. In the event of a sprained ankle or other emergency, a team of four Chapter Leaders are trained to successfully transport and extricate a patient to the road at Rose Lake.
Solid shoes that are broken in are a must (new shoes will result in horrible blisters). Parents, please check your children’s shoes and do NOT send them on the pilgrimage in flip-flops, sandals, or running shoes with flimsy foam soles.
PRO TIP: Bring two pairs of shoes: Sneakers or lightweight hikers for Friday / Sunday, and a more sturdy pair of hiking boots for Saturday where the trail is gravel and rock.
Clothing suitable for hiking should be worn. Ladies, no pants or shorts, and no tank tops. Guys, no tank tops – shorts are acceptable for youth.
We’re walking for many miles in the heat – Keep chafing in mind, and plan accordingly for undergarments.
PRO TIP: Bring two pairs of socks and change your socks at lunch time to avoid blisters.
Idaho weather fluctuates – consider a light jacket that can be worn in the morning and stuffed into a backpack as it gets warmer. There may be rain – an emergency poncho will work fine and takes up almost no space. 2017 was very warm and sunny Friday morning then dropped to 55 degrees with sideways rain by lunch – Garbage bag ponchos were worn and pilgrims were shivering!
PRO TIP: Avoid denim, especially denim skirts, which can cause chafing. Lightweight synthetic or cotton materials are ideal.
A hat, sunglasses, and bandana are smart to pack on the walk to shield you from the sun.
Carry a small backpack packed with a light jacket or sweatshirt, extra socks, water bottle, snack food, your lunch, sunscreen, and any other personal items. See the Meals section below.
PRO TIP: Avoid “cinch bag” backpacks that constantly want to slip off your shoulders!
PRO TIP: Use the water bottle holder on your backpack. Don’t put a water bottle into your backpack with your other things or it will tip over and soak your lunch and your clothes! It happens every year…
PRO TIP: Pack some salt or electrolyte powder to put in your water to replenish electrolytes. Don’t carry jugs of Powerade when you can just carry the powder and add it to your water from the water truck! That way, you’re not carrying as much heavy liquids at any given time.
The pilgrimage is broken into Chapters – small groups of 30-40 people. Depending on the day, there are between 5 and 10 Chapters. These smaller numbers mean that the priest or Chapter Leader giving the spiritual direction will not have to shout, the Pilgrims can keep the same walking pace, and all Pilgrims will more easily join together in the camraderie of the group.
At the start of each day, and then after lunch, pilgrims can join any Chapter they wish, but you need to stay in the same Chapter for the morning or afternoon. You will need to change badges as you change chapters – see more on that below.
Your Chapter Leader and his designated assistant are your spiritual and safety leaders. The Chapter leader will assist you in spiritual talks, prayers, songs and occasional humor.
Stay tightly together with your Chapter at all times, and listen to your Chapter Leader – he’s your mentor, your guide, and your boss for the day!
Q: Will there always be a priest in my chapter? NO. We always have more chapters than priests, so while a priest may sometimes grace your chapter with his presence, he may also be busy hearing confessions and attending to other chapters.
All pilgrims six years of age and older will be given a badge which must be visible at all times on the pilgrimage. The badge is required to walk on the pilgrimage and is your admission to meals in the morning and night. Most pilgrims attach these to their backpacks, but they can also be worn around your neck.
At the start of each day, and then after lunch, pilgrims can join any Chapter they wish, but you need to stay in the same Chapter for the morning or afternoon.
When you join a group in the morning, your Chapter Leader will hand you your chapter badge, and that’s your badge and your chapter – period! You can switch at lunch, but only if the Chapter Leader has extra badges because they had people leave that Chapter.
At the end of the day, your chapter badge will be collected by your Chapter Leader, or one of the two Sheepdogs.
Priests on the Pilgrimage may celebrate private Mass on both Saturday and Sunday morning, and while you’re welcome to attend any of these Masses, Holy Communion will only be distributed at the main Mass at camp on Saturday morning, and at the Solemn High Mass on Sunday at Cataldo.
Confessions will be heard by the priests throughout the day during the entire Pilgrimage. These Confessions take place while walking side by side with the priest, halfway between two Chapters. You may also use this time for general spiritual guidance with Father.
BREAKFAST & DINNER are provided for you each day, but you must pack your own lunch!
Breakfast consists of yummy oatmeal with fixings, yogurt, fruit, granola and hard boiled eggs… and of course lots and lots of hot coffee!
Dinner is hearty and simple: Baked potato bar, and tostadas.
Remember, this is a pilgrimage, not a vacation, so while the food is definitely hearty and delicious, it’s also simple = economical for the church! No complaining!!!
LUNCH: You must pack your own lunch and any snacks you think you’ll need during the day Friday and Saturday.
Drinking water is always available at the campsites, and throughout the day on Friday, Saturday (morning) and Sunday. Remember to pack a water bottle or two for the walk! Due to the heat – we strongly advise you to pack some salt to occasionally take with water to replenish electrolytes.
Q: Where do you keep Saturday’s lunch when you’re walking on Friday? Good question. Pack a cooler with your Saturday food and put it in the U-Haul truck Friday morning. It will magically arrive at camp Friday night, and you can then re-pack your backpack Saturday morning with fresh food. Just make sure to really pack the cooler with ice! The other option is to go with non-refrigerated foods and pack those into a box or crate on the U-Haul.
Hiking Food Ideas: Trail Mix, Pretzels, Nuts and Seeds, Granola, Clif Bar, Protein Bar, Granola Bar, Grapes, Oranges, Fruit Snacks, Dried Fruit, String Cheese (in the package will safely last all day), Pop-Tarts (cold), PB&J, Tortillas with Peanut Butter, Pita with Hummus, Blueberry Bagels with Cream Cheese, Summer Sausage and Cheese, Canned Tuna, Peanut Butter & Crackers, Chex Mix, Jerky, M&Ms, Gummy Bears, Licorice, Cookies… and one Pilgrim says to definitely bring a can of Black Olives.
The two camps are both set in the mountains, and the Saturday camp is especially scenic, with a view out over Rose Lake. The camps can get fairly chilly at night and are prone to mosquitoes. Bring a JACKET and bug spray!
The Camp is broken up into three areas: Single Men, Single Women, and in between are the Families who form a formidable barrier of tents.
Portable restrooms and fresh water are available at each camp.
At 10PM, all Pilgrims must be in, or at, their tents if they are remaining in the camp. Voices should remain at a whisper for necessary speaking.
Minors are not allowed to camp unless a designated guardian is also camping with them (not required to be in the same tent – just in camp and vigilant).
It’s important that we leave the campsites at least as clean as we find them, and since there is no ‘cleaning crew’, all pilgrims will need to assist in cleaning the campsite before we leave the camp on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The Pilgrims do LOVE their campfires! Unless there’s a burn ban in effect, we have a campfire on both Friday and Saturday nights.
After dinner and some settling-in time, Compline signals the beginning of the evening campfire gathering. After that, songs are sung, tall tales from the day on the trail are told, teasing is dished out, and new friends are made from those who may have been strangers just that morning.
Note: Alcohol and cigars are allowed in camp for adults, and are very welcome after a long Pilgrimage day.
Lights are out at 10pm, and the Pilgrims’ feet are telling them that this is a very, very good idea.
A large U-Haul truck will haul your camping gear and cooler from place to place. Although we have a driver for the U-Haul, the gear and equipment being hauled is YOURS, meaning that you should arrive at ICC early enough on Friday to load your own gear, and then load your gear onto the truck again on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Since some people will want their gear available to them to take home on Sunday at Cataldo, there will be two sections in the truck while loading up on Sunday morning – one to be unloaded at Cataldo, and the other to be unloaded back in Post Falls.
While you do need to load your gear in the morning, the drivers will UNLOAD your gear for you each evening and set the items in the grass at the campsite. This allows you to easily do a “baggage claim” style pickup of your coveted things as you wearily enter the camp.
The pilgrimage is no longer able to provide official shuttle service to the pilgrims on Friday or Saturday, however we do coordinate rides for pilgrims on Sunday after the barbeque to get back to Post Falls.
If you are doing a partial pilgrimage of one or two days, you may end up with a vehicle stranded at one of the camps. This “leapfrogging” of cars can be done with a little planning. Use the info below to help you, and we highly suggest working with a responsible buddy to assist you in this.
There is often a volunteer with a van or Suburban on Friday and Saturday morning who will offer to follow several cars to the next location, drop the cars off, then give the drivers a ride back in the van. This does typically happen once, but it fills fast, and can’t be guaranteed. It’s best to arrange plans with a buddy as a backup.
Friday morning – Vehicle at ICC
Friday evening – You arrive at Wolf Lodge Camp with no vehicle
If you need to get back to ICC, the camp is fairly near the Wolf Lodge exit, so asking a buddy to come get you isn’t a lot to ask, and is the best way to do this. Otherwise, there are often people from Post Falls driving into camp to visit, to volunteer, to drop off Pilgrims, etc. and by asking around, you can almost always beg for a ride back.
ICC to Wolf Lodge Camp = 28 min by car
Saturday morning – Vehicle at Wolf Lodge Camp
Saturday evening – You arrive at Rose Lake camp with no vehicle
If you’re coming in for the Pilgrimage Saturday morning, a good way to do this is to show up 30 minutes early, and head straight to the Rose Lake camp with a buddy, drop off your vehicle there, and get a ride back to the Wolf Lodge camp. We are able to leave a vehicle at each camp during the day Saturday. Then, when you arrive in the Rose Lake camp Saturday evening (with your buddy), you take the car you brought there that morning, and you both head back to the Wolf Lodge camp and pick up the other vehicle, driving both back to the Rose Lake Camp.
Alternatively, you can leave your vehicle at the Wolf Lodge camp Saturday, and find someone to drive you there and pick up your vehicle, bringing it back to the Rose Lake Camp.
Wolf Lodge Camp to Rose Lake Camp = 30 min by car
Sunday morning – Vehicle at Rose Lake Camp
Sunday noon – You arrive at Cataldo with no vehicle
Since vehicles may be left at the Rose Lake camp during the day Sunday, the best way is to just leave your vehicle there and get it later int he afternoon.
Many family members meet Pilgrims at Cataldo on Sunday, and with so many additional parishioners coming just to the Mass and BBQ on Sunday, there are many other people who are willing to give you a ride back to the Rose Lake Camp, which is only 4 miles off I-90.
There is also a few vans that travel back to ICC and bring Pilgrims back who don’t have family meeting them on Sunday.
Rose Lake Camp to Cataldo Mission = 12 min by car
See the separate “Meals & Food” list and the “What to Carry With You” lists.
This list is for general camp items to pack:
Backpack, Clothes, Extra Shoes, Light Jacket (for walking), Warm Jacket (for camp – it gets COLD), Lunches (x 2), Water Bottle, Drinks, Flashlight/Headlamp, Bug Spray (lots of mosquitoes), Sunscreen, Missal, Rosary, Chapel Veil, Tent, Sleeping Bag, Toiletries, Small First Aid Kit.
Pro Tip: Bring medical tape to wrap a foot and stop early blisters. Bring foam foot pads, because you’ll decide on Saturday morning that you really want them.
Note: Alcohol and cigars are allowed in camp for adults, and are very welcome after a long Pilgrimage day.