Today was relatively short (as planned) and straight up (or so it felt). Kudos to Pastor Kurt for suggesting I train on Dump Road; today’s walk was steep (“but I’ve trained for this” which has become my mantra). I still have another 18k tomorrow before I can pat myself on the back for conquering the Pyrenees. Tomorrow’s uphill is another 600 meters but it is more gradual. The real challenge will be the “treacherous” downhill into Roncesvalles where I am staying tomorrow night.
I simply need to follow the arrows and I will find my way to Burgos (where I hope to get before my 16 days are up).
So I exited through the gates of St Jean Pied de Port, crossed the iconic bridge and I was off.
Leaving town I found the road steep and thought, “ah, this is what Kurt was talking about.” Ha! That uphill was merely a preview.
My Buen Camino App knew what was in store for me and the notification made me laugh, kind of. I had no idea I would get this messages from the app. Can’t wait to get the next one.
Up, up, up.
And soon, the town I had just left, was but a small dot in my sight.
Most of the walking was on pavement, but there was a shortcut through grazing pastures that was open for pilgrims so I took it. The climb reminded me of the hike up to Stark’s Mountain toward the very top. The views were stunning and made me forget how strenuous the walking was.
There was encouragement along the way.
And just when I thought today’s walk wasn’t going to quit, I turned the corner and saw my gite (French for hostel) for the night, the Orisson Refuge.
After checking in I had a well-earned sandwich of baguette, jamon and cheese along with a beer. Then I had dessert which was basque cake which I really enjoyed and will need to try to make at home.
All the newbie pilgrims are working hard to get into a routine, which, for most is check-in and then shower, do laundry and get lunch or a snack.
Tuesday, Arrival in Saint Jean Pied de Port
I didn’t have time for an update yesterday so here is a summary. I flew on Monday night from Boston to Paris and then took East Jet to Biarritz in Southern France. I took a shuttle (Express Bourricot) St Jean where I checked into the Beilari Gite.
I bought trekking poles (didn’t want to have to check my luggage hence didn’t bring my sticks from home) and walked around the town a bit and then it was time for a communal dinner at the gite where the hospitelaro, Joseph, did a great job making the 20 of us feel at home and feel like we knew each other. As he said, it was our first “Camino family.” Elizabeth, the cook, prepared a beautiful meal.
I got my first sello (stamp in the credential which is required to stay in pilgrim alburges) at the Pilgrim Office.
I was eager to get going today and decided to walk alone. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I did most of my training solo. I really enjoy the solitude and being able to go at my own pace. I definitely feel that the older I get, the more introverted I become.
As I sit here there is a beautiful breeze and the scenery is spectacular. In the mountains below there are cows with bells that are ringing and it is beautiful.
Oh, and the ear plugs I brought to drown out snorers…apparently I need to give those to my roommates because “I” am the snorer. Ray has told me this, but I never believed him.