I expected today to be the most challenging over my 16 day Camino. While we had half of the 1200 meter elevation under our belts on the first day, today involved the remaining 600 meters elevation plus the descent into Roncesvalles.
We left at 8 which was sunrise and up we went. There is no way to capture the beauty of this walk over the Pyrenees with a picture or video because you can’t feel the wind, smell the fresh clean air or heat the sheep and horse bells that are constantly chiming all around you.
The first landmark was Pic d’Orisson with a well-photographed statue of the Virgin Mary. While I am not doing this pilgrimage for religious reasons, I very much respect that for many this is a holy experience and has been since the beginning of the Camino. So I was touched to see this icon standing at what seemed to be the top of the world.
The sheep everywhere are just beautiful. Last night we got to see a herd driven through where we were staying.
The picture above was taken by a fellow pilgrim, Christine Brown.
I couldn’t stop my self from taking pictures every time I saw a flock.
I was feeling pretty damn good and the view makes the challenge so much easier.
At one point a group a six cars each with four passengers, drove by. Clearly they were tourists. There are all kinds of ways to do the Camino.
Annette, the young German girl who was my bunk mate last night, zoomed past me. Check out the size of that bag! 50 +10 liters! Oh to be young!
And we walked and walked and then, is that a food truck or is it a mirage?
It was perfect timing for a second breakfast, which is typical on the Camino. It was perfect for me since I can’t eat right when I get up. I was thrilled to be able to buy a chunk of sheep’s milk cheese and bread. It was a perfect snack along with a cup of coffee.
The only complaint I have with the food truck is the promising map that showed 1km up, 5km flat and 5km down. It really wasn’t 5km flat; in fact it was uphill. Gradual, but uphill!
Water is readily available throughout the Camino. This is the Fountain of Roland and the water was cool and refreshing.
Next came a major point on the Camino Frances…it crosses into Spain! I made it to the Navarre region of Espana!
We walked through a beech forest for a while. The shade was wonderful.
With Roncesvalles in our site we just needed to safely negotiate the downhill and we would be at our home for the night.
Total walking time was about 6.5 hours.
Dinner was delicious. The best yet.
€10 for the pilgrim meal. With wine.
After the meal we went to the Pilgrim Blessing in the cathedral. While this isn’t a religious experience for me, I will take everything I can get to help me power on.
I am proud of myself. Not only in the walk I did today but in the training I did to be able to make this trek. It paid off!
Our Camino family is forming. It is great meeting so many people from all around the world. Most are very good with English, thank goodness.
I wasn’t sure I would like alburgue living but it isn’t bad and it is a great way to meet others. I mean, when else will I be able to bunk with three very cute 20-something Spanish men who had no problem undressing right in front of me. They were very sweet to me and even gave me earplugs…little do they know that I myself am a pretty good snorer!