1920 feet in elevation gain
Getaria – Itziar (via Deba)
What a difference a day can make. I woke up this morning rested and renewed. Good conversation, great food, a bottle of wine and a good nights sleep. A recipe for uplifted spirits.
Leaving Getaria, you encounter pine forests almost immediately after leaving town. The sound of the city falls always. A gentle sea breeze whispers through the pine needles. A gentle climb gives way to a gentle descent. My legs recharged, the hiking is easy. Upon the hillside, several hundred yards away, I see three dogs playing in an open field. The boundless energy of dogs at play.
As i walk from forest to farmland and back to forest, I hear the report of a rifle in the distance. And then another. The sound carries through the valleys echoing off surrounding mountains. Unalarming, as there is some distance, between me and the source, although I am uncertain of the direction in which it is coming. Two more reports, followed by silence. I assumed firearms were banned from Spain.
I make another gentle climb to the edge of Askizu, and discover the source. A hunter out with his hunting dogs. He is loading his dogs in the back of his hatchback. A well sunned man in his mid 30’s. He appears to have little patience with the dogs he is training. After failing to load up in the car as commanded, the man scruffs the dog and aggressively heaves him into his crate and slams the gate shut. Slamming the hatch in a final show of his frustration.
The man is unaware of my approach, his Weatherby Orion clearly visible leaning against his car. 50 yards away, I don’t want to startle the man, I loudly scuff my feet while coughing. My attempt at forewarning, still clearly startling, the man spins around, carrying a gruff look. He stares at me as I approach, I return the fixed gaze. Within 10 yards, I utter, “buenas dias”.
No response. The man hasn’t moved nor has his gaze changed.
I quickly close the distance when directly across from him, I turn to my left, smile, “It’s a good day for it” and carry on my way.
Shortly there after, I crested the peak of the trail and drop down to Zumaia.
The hiking is good today. Out of Zumaia, you climb about 600 feet to Elorriaga. It’s a camping ground of sorts with a variety of hiking trails and roadways converging.
A road side food truck offers light fare. Beer, coffee, and light snacks. I stop for a short break. Approaching from the Camino I notice two women hiking together. They walk up to the food truck and I say hello. One is French the other from Belgium. The French woman engages in conversation.
She informs me their is an alternate route known as GR121 or Ruta de Flysch. I confirm its existence in my guide book. It is the same distance to Deba, although runs more along the coast.
She informs me she has heard it is much less strenuous than the same section of the Camino, but the scenery much more appealing.
She was both wrong and right at the same time. It was incredibly more strenuous, but the views of the coast cliffs were nothing short of breath taking. Vertical cliff faces towering several hundred feet in the air, meeting the crashing waves of the sea. I have never beholden such rugged oceanic beautify.
Later I would learn from a local woman, I met of the very same trail that afternoon, scenes from the HBO series “Game of Thrones” were filmed there. I could definitely see the appeal.
While walking with the Spanish woman in her 60’s, the terrain rugged and steep, she seemed to have no problem keeping pace up and down the hills, even while walking with a cane. Never assume one’s ability based on visual perception seems to be a recurring theme this Camino.
We talk about California. She happily declaring she had been to Los Angeles and San Francisco. She went on to inform me I should be thankful for the dry weather. “From February to the end of June, it rained every day”, she said.
Then through the middle of August every other day on average.
“How unusual to have 5 days with no rain, perhaps you brought it with you! The dry weather I mean. Isn’t half your state on fire?”
I nod in agreement.
She was fun to walk with, but evident we had left her husband well behind with our pace she said, “Well after 35 years, I should wait for him, you are much to young for me to run off with you!”
I laughed and parted with a smile and a goodbye.
Shortly after, I caught up with the French woman. I learned her name was Julie. She had been on the Camino for 900KM starting in France. It was her 3rd Camino.
She had planned to do the Camino Frances again, but having met her current walking companion from Belgium some 10 days before, had decided to join her on the Camino Norte.
“Good thing”, she says, “Everyone on the Frances is so happy as it is most often their first Camino. Everyone becomes a philosopher, and its the biggest thing they ever done!”
Her tone was such, it was evident she had forgotten what it was like to do something so bold and new.
I pondered if I should remind her, that she was once new. You know Americans, always quick to share their opinion, I abstained from carrying forward the stereotype.
I too remember my first weeks on the Camino Frances. It was with the most bold things I had done. I indeed was the philosopher she speaks of. Should be begrudge those finding their feet for the first time? The freedom a nice long walk brings, to the body, heart and soul.
We have all been new once, at a passion, hobby or career. Perhaps we all do start out idealistic, I find its the human way.
We descend a steep hillside onto stone roads. Julie informs me that when you see roads of this structure, they remain from the time of the Romans, as they built many of the first roads in Spain.
Entering into Deba, we part ways. I’m off for a snack, and she is off to the alburgue.
Only upon reaching for my guide book do I realize, I’m in the wrong place. As a result of taking the alternate route, I bypassed the town of Itziar. Some 4 kilometers back up a steep incline is my hotel.
I laugh to myself. And realize, I am better for having messed up. I wouldn’t change a thing. Not having the will or strength to double back, I hop in a cab. Using language translations apps, we are able to have a verbal conversation. The taxi driver informs me, “This happens all the time!”
What a wonderful day.
For photos of my trip: http://www.instragram.com/diverja