I love getting an early start to the walking day as I did when training at home. Here in Spain the sun is now rising at 8am so that means a head lamp is necessary for the first hour or so when leaving before 7am as we did today. We took a quick obligatory photo in front of the sign that tells us the distance to Santiago de Compostela.
Then it was off to Zubiri in the dark.
About 3k after leaving Roncesvalles, we came to the charming town of Burguete and a bar! (Remember, Bar means cafe in Spain). I had a cafe Americano and a banana and took a pain au chocolate (sorry don’t know the name in Spanish) for the road.
The town of Burguete was just lovely.
Espinal was the next town just another 3.6k later and it too was charming.
Most of our walking was done on paths similar to what we might walk on in Vermont. Some of it reminded me of the mountain bike trails behind Flatbread, especially when a group of biking pilgrims came riding past.
Soon it was time for another break and low and behold, there was a bar right when we needed it in Viscaretta (Bizkarreta in Basque). I ate the pain au chocolate from earlier and washed it down with a coke.
Looking at an elevation map, it doesn’t seem like today should have been so tough, but it felt I was constantly going uphill. And, unlike yesterday, there were no wide expanses; nothing you could gage distance with. You just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other and relish the short breaks and the scenery.
Our last stop before Zubiri was at a food truck on the side of the road. A fellow pilgrim introduced me to Aquarius. It is like a “light” Gatorade and comes in lemon and orange. It is very refreshing.
The toughest part of the day was the last 3.5k into Zubiri. It was downhill, at times steep and what made it really challenging was the ledge and huge rocks underneath that were jutting out diagonal to the path. (I was so focused on getting the heck down that I didn’t take picture to prove my fears to be true.).
The path itself was full of rocks and I had to carefully pick my way down (did I mention how much I LOVE my trekking poles?). A couple of times I banged the front of my foot against one of those immovable rocks and I knew it wasn’t going to be good.
We will see how those big toes are doing over the next few days. Otherwise my feet are doing great. I was lucky to have been able to work out the kinks (well most of them) with foot issues during my training at home. Others were not and many are struggling with blisters.
I was so happy to see the town of Zubiri! During our last break I told one of my fellow pilgrims that I thought I would try to get a private room tonight. I have barely slept the past three nights and felt that a good night’s sleep would help me a lot. Henry suggested I call for a reservation before getting into town and I am happy I did. I got the last private room at one of the Alburgues I had hoped to stay at. I feel like I am in heaven!
I have my own room and there is a shared kitchen and bathroom. AND a laundry machine. This is living!!!
After a shower I planned to go to the bar two doors down and get something to eat (since I only had a banana and that pain au chocolate today) and I would get to bed really early. But, there were some folks in my Camino family drinking a beer and soon I was making plans for the pilgrim meal with several of them at 7.
While the Camino family idea felt forced and a bit uncomfortable to me the first couple of days, as we are starting to get into a groove, it is amazing how many people I keep bumping into that I know and it is so great to see them and catch up.
The one thing that is interesting is you never know when you may see someone for the last time. An injury could set someone a day or two behind, or someone could choose to stay somewhere for two nights to rest and explore (for example, that could happen tomorrow in Pamplona). Or, someone just might not be enjoying a section and taxi or bus ahead. We are all staying in different places and eating in different restaurants. It actually is quite amazing that we all keep bumping into each other when we do!
So, I am savoring every moment, living in the present because that is all I can be sure of. In fact, it is all that any of us can be sure of.
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