Men aiming to walk to California's missions complete their journey

Two men who set out last month to walk to all of California’s missions arrived at their final stop on Monday.

Ron Briery, a 1963 Arroyo Grande High School graduate, and Beppe Sala of Italy announced via email on Wednesday the completion of their statewide trek that began March 1.

“We walked into Sonoma Monday afternoon,” Briery wrote. “The mission was closed that day, but we came back on Tuesday for the official stamp.”

On March 31, the pair had reached the middle point of their trip — Mission San Miguel. They had journeyed through cities and along creeks and let Highway 101 guide them along what's left of old El Camino Real. The total journey was about 800 miles, which they completed on schedule.

“The final surprise was walking into the mission in Sonoma and seeing a copy of the San Luis Obispo article on the desk with instructions to 'Keep an eye for these guys,' " Briery said.

Among the many people they met along the way, the duo also helped two 4th grade students with interviews for their school mission projects.

Briery, now living in Eagle Point, Ore., met Sala after hiking in Spain a few years back. Then they began discussing their adventure in California.

Briery planned the quest using Google Maps and laid out step-by-step directions on how to walk no more than 20 miles a day. He drove his planned route to make sure.

Sala walked for the pilgrimage, which is a spiritual journey. Briery said he walked to embrace history.

“This really has been a great adventure,” Briery said in his email. “Hopefully more hikers will follow.”