Another 89km over three days. My hike is officially over. I plan to rest in Finisterre and return to Santiago on Wednesday. Thursday begins my 4 day trek back to San Diego.
I’ll share more later, but for now enjoy these pictures….
The hiking this morning was down right cold. Fortunately we had a shorter day of 14 miles planned. First thing, we hiked up to an elevation just over 3000 feet and were met with fog. At the top was a large cross, immersed in fog. While the photo won’t do it justice, it was somewhat of a surreal sight.
We woke up earlier than normal this morning. The pension we stayed in had a breakfast “buffet”, so we wanted to get down there early and partake and still hit the road around our normal time or earlier.
The alarm went off at 5am. Again, I woke up about 2 minutes before it. Pretty wild. Continue Reading
For dinner last night we went to the same Italian restaurant we enjoyed lunch at. We liked the food, so didn’t think anything of going back. The server thought it a little amusing.
This go round we had caprese and lasagna. Quite good, but they run a little light on the sauce. We finished up dinner and headed back to the hostel.
Estella has a beautiful downtown, but the rest of the city seemed a run down. Its the first time I didn’t particularly feel safe in a particular area of town.
We were in bed shortly after dinner. Hiking in the heat of the day really took it out of us. Molli and Tony attempted sleep right away. I chatted with the boys back home for several hours. It was a hot, rather muggy night. About 11 Molli, moved to the other bed, as it was just too hot to sleep with another person. I finally put down my phone around 11:30 and fell to sleep almost immediately.
We all woke up a few minutes before the alarm. before it went off I said out loud, “Well it’s almost 5:30 if we want to get going.” They both responded immediately. We must have all been awake for a little bit.
We hit the road right at 6. It was significantly easier to hike the coolness of the morning. Noted in the guide book, on our way out of town is a winery that has a water fountain for filling you water bottles and also a wine fountain that dispenses free wine! Right there for pilgrims to use on the side of the building! Rumor is, they put one barrel of wine up a day and when to gone, it’s gone. We thought the gate might be closed because we would by there too early. But sure enough there it was! Molli and I both had a sip. It was pretty decent wine! We didn’t take any with us. It was more just to say we did it. Wine in the morning before 13.5 miles of hiking just didn’t seem like a good idea. In the U.S. you would be required to have a security guard, special permitting, a huge liability insurance policy and someone checking IDs.
We remembered there was supposed to be a mobile lunch truck about 3.5 miles away. What we ate should easily tide us over until then. We hiked on. The ice baths did wonders for everyone’s feet. We got into a pretty good rhythm and pounded out the miles. We arrived at the lunch truck and had a quick bite to eat and a coffee. We had just under 4 miles to go to arrive at our stop for the day, Los Arcos.
Similar to what we have seen the places we have been, Los Arcos has a historic downtown, with a smaller community built up around it. We found a “pension” for our nights rest tonight. A pension is basically a hotel. We have determined its only a few more euros each to share a room than it would be to stay in the dormitory rows of bunk beds hostels. So it’s a win.
The only downside to it, is we miss out on some of the social interactions you would experience in the hostels. We attempt to make up for it at lunch and dinner when we see other pilgrims out. We gladly strike up conversations. People love to talk.
After finding our room, we had lunch in the town square. I had paella again. It is soooo good. Molli and I also split a pitcher of sangria. Being a little dehydrated, it went very easily. Fortunately its not overly potent!
The last couple days have been rather hard emotionally. The camino is a strange place. It takes any emotional baggage you have been hiding away and rips it to the forefront of your mind without warning. It then waves a huge flag in your face and says, ” HERE YOU GO!!! DEAL WITH THIS RIGHT NOW!!”
Ready or not, there is generally no option but to start working it out. You are too tired to resist. So you start working through it. There should be a disclaimer on the Camino. “Anyone hiking the camino needs to apologize to their friends and family in advance. You will be reaching out to them with stuff drudged up from the far recesses of your brain. Either to make amends, make changes, or just to ask them for help.
The PCT definitely didn’t strike this sort of emotional response. Sure I worked through so things, but nothing like what I have experienced on this trail so far. A few people I have talked to have shared a similar experience. It’s something to do with the trail and not the act of hiking. No wonder people have been hiking this trail for over a thousand years.
The three of us have fallen into a groove. We have also gotten rather quiet. We are all working in our heads, and hiking down the road. Three pilgrims following the way. Im really glad they invited me to come along. The experience is golden and I’m sure I have a lot of “stuff” to deal with. I welcome it with open arms.
As a side note, Tony has been on the minimalist shoe band wagon since it started. He routinely wears vibrams. When he told me he was planning to where minimalist sandals on the trail I was verbally skeptical. He’s hiked the last 87 miles in a sandal made by Luna and hasn’t had a single issue. Pretty outstanding. By no means am I affiliated with them, but if you like minimalist shoes, check them out at http://lunasandals.com. He’s wearing the Luna Leadville Trail.
Tomorrow we are hoping to send a package home and ditch weight of items we aren’t using. When we arrived in Los Arcos the post office was already closed. The hours are 8:30 to 11:00am Monday – Friday. (Huh?!) On Wednesday the forecast calls for thunderstorms and rain! Always an adventure!
Today we were lazy and didn’t get out of bed until 6:30. It was nice to sleep in, but the primary reason we lounged about until so late was due to the hostel offering a breakfast buffet. All of us are running a calorie deficit, so we thought it would be worth waiting around until the buffet opened at 7.
We headed down to the buffet as the opened and ate like savages. by 7:30 we were back in the room packing up and we hit the trail by 7:45. The sun was already somewhat intense, and the normal coolness of the air we normally experience the first few miles of our hike was already gone.
I had a rough nights sleep. Emotions on the trail are very raw. I have found, as you remove yourself from your layers of protections, your home, variety of clothes, friends, routines, etc, you are more vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, you see more things as a threat and react accordingly. Things that would normally be benign or a joke you take way to personally. I had an instance of that last night before bed. Fortunately I was able to talk through the situation and realize I way over reacting.
Even with my apologies and regret, the tone for my sleep had been set. As a result, I experienced a couple very disturbing dreams involving a couple of close friends. So my sleep was restless and interrupted.
When I woke up, I felt very confrontational and took a couple of comments from my fellow travelers the wrong way. Fortunately I had learned my lesson from last night and didn’t lash out at them. I kept my mouth shut because i knew it was my issue, not theirs to deal with today.
Again, their comments would normally be taken as benign, but coupled with being worn out, homesick and already on edge, I blew them way out of proportion. After pondering on them for a good 2 hours, and walking the anger away, I started to feel better. He can be taught!
Emotional maturity is hard work!
Today we were all pretty sore. Our feet are feeling the effects of 70 miles of walking. We were all rather quiet today. Basically, the honeymoon is over. The work of hiking the Camino has begun. We are no longer floating along on adrenaline and excitement. Let the growth begin!
Our walk today took us through the rolling hills of wheat, oats and vineyards. I can’t get over the villages in Spanish countryside.
The temperature rose quickly. We came to a church built in 1062. A 950 year old building. You don’t see that every day. the building is in an amazing state of repair considering its age. It is not a currently active church, but someone is keeping it reasonably maintained. The timbers supporting the roof appear to be almost brand new and must have been replaced in the last 10 years.
The miles were difficult. We all couldn’t wait to get into Estella and find a hostel. The last 2 miles seemed to take forever, but we finally arrived. Once again we ended up with a private room that sleeps 3. Definitely not a bad deal.
We found our way back to an Italian restaurant we passed on the way to our hostel. T&M both had pizza. I ordered an Antipasto and spaghetti a la chicken carbonara. Quite delicious.
We returned to the room where we each participated in the torture of ice bath for our feet. This afternoon we are just lounging about with our feet up. We’ve walked enough today.
Last night was my first ever night in a hostel. As I mentioned yesterday, the place was spotless and very modern. There were 36 sets of bunk beds divided into two rows of the floor we were on. There were 4 floors of beds. So a fairly large place. Because of the sheer number of people, it was noisy until just after 10 pm. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but I laid down to go to sleep about 9. My efforts were fruitless. So i read for about 45 minutes, and started dozing off. I awoke about 30 minutes later to a sympathy of snores. It was rather entertaining, until it wasn’t. I slept on and off awaking every other hour to some form of loud noise. Never identifiable of course.
We planned to start walking around 6:15. As we discovered, that is remarkably late. I woke at 4:15 to people packing their gear and generally rustling about. Most of the floor we were on was vacant by 5:45.
Another pilgrim, Adam from Hungary, we had met in the village of St Jean was invited to join us. He agreed and said he would meet us at 6:15. By 6:00 the three of us were packed and ready to go.
Molli and I are cut from the same cloth in many regards. When we say 6:15, we are walking out the door at 6:15. 6:15 arrived and Adam was no where to be seen. Tony did a quick walk around of the immediate area, and he was no where to be seen. We headed out. Our planned mileage for the day was just shy of 13 miles. We agreed if we were feeling ambitious we would push on another 3 miles.
We were all a little sore this morning, but nothing unreasonable. We made great time the first hour or so due to the terrain being a gradual descent. I had great cell signal so I caught up with Brian and Austin at home. I also had welcome messages from my mom, Keith and Tate. It’s always good to get notes from home.
We were over taken and passed hikers all during the hike. We always exchange good morning, or “Buen Camino”. Along the way, some people engage in conversation deeper than simply hello. It’s always fascinating to hear people’s story and how they ended up here.
Around 9, we came along a cafe where many people stopped for breakfast. I was the only one who ate anything substantial this morning, and that consisted of a small sandwich and a hard boiled egg. Not exactly a filling meal when you are burning close to 4000 calories a day. Hungry, we stopped and had something that I would describe as a Spanish quiche. It was delicious. Molli and I also both enjoyed an Americano.
With the early mornings and lack sleep, I’ve taken to one caffeinated beverage in the morning. It provides a nice boost, and thus far haven’t encountered my normal side effect of caffeine; a tremendous amount of anxiety. I suspect this is due to the volume of physical activity. The exercise simply burns off the caffeine quickly without the negative effect.
We ate and rested for roughly 20 minutes. I have begun falling into the same routines I had on the PCT. When I stop for anything longer than 5 minutes, my socks and shoes come off. This allows the perspiration on my socks and feet to dry. This is a very effective strategy for limiting blisters. By allowing your feet to cool off and dry, you are removing two of the three components required to blister; heat and moisture.
We refilled our water bottles and set back out. We were a little more than half way to Zubiri at this point, which was our intended stop for the day. Having eaten and amped ourselves up with coffee, both Molli and I became chatter boxes. We paired off in differing combinations for the remainder of the hike.
About 3 miles from our destination, Molli made a friend. I will call her Atlanta, simply because I don’t remember her name, but I remember she is from Atlanta. As with any hiking expedition, people get nicknames. It’s often difficult remember their real name, so you give them a nickname of meaning to you or your group. The person may never know this nickname, but its most helpful when talking amongst yourselves as everyone knows who you are talking about. Atlanta is early 30’s and competed in her first triathlon this year. So of course, her and Molli bonded instantly.
Atlanta has a couple of close friends that all made a deal. Each of the friends were to pick an activity they wanted to do as a group and the other friends weren’t allowed to say no. This ended up being how she did the triathlon. What a great idea! Talk about a unique way to step out of your comfort zone and do something you might not otherwise do.
While Molli bonded with Atlanta, Tony and I made conversation on a variety of subjects. Past lives, religion, philosophy and just the general way of being and living. Tony is really the person who reinforced the idea of “living intentionally” to me. Living life on autopilot is an easy way to live, but often very unfulfilling. Conversations with Tony are never boring and always provide me with a ton of insight and subjects to ponder.
We arrived in Zubiri shortly before noon. I could feel a couple of hotspots developing on my feet, so I told them I needed to sit and let my dry and rest for a few minutes. I could feel they wanted to continue. Unusual for Tony, he remarked, “It’s only noon, we should keep walking.”
Molli made a similar comment. I didn’t show my reluctance, but said if we ate and rested for a few we could push on to the next town. After Molli sat down, and pulled off her socks, she immediately noticed a huge blister on her pinky toe. This made the decision whether we would hike any more. The Camino is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes it takes huge neon signs, in this case a huge blister, to reinforce to us that we need to slow down and enjoy the town.
We found a beautiful hostel to stay in called Rio Arga. The place is practically brand new and very small. they have a total of 12 beds. The three of us secured a room that has 2 sets of bunkbeds and its own private bathroom. The best part, it only cost 15 euro. My reluctance of staying at hostels has completely disappeared. I understand not all hostels are this nice, but for now, I’m completely content living the sweet life. The proprieter was most gracious. Hospitality at its finest.
After checking in, we make our way to a cafe to enjoy lunch. Molli and I both indulge in paella that was most delicious. The seafood tasted as if it had been caught this morning.
From there, we grabbed a couple of beers and headed down to the river next to our hostel to soak our feet. We lounged and soaked for close to 2 hours. Other pilgrims joined and one had the gumption to jump in. The water was quite cold, but within minutes there were 7 people swimming. One female pilgrim, stripped down to the buff and took the plunge. Carefree living! Shortly after Molli and Tony took the plunge. It was nothing short of an amazing afternoon. To think, had we pushed on, we likely wouldn’t have had this experience.
Another lesson. Slow down and enjoy the now. A remarkable day.
One of the pilgrims we met named Tyran is hiking the Camino to raise money. His closest friend in Australia had a son born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. If you are interested in reading his story or donating please visit: https://www.facebook.com/MacksattackagainstSMA
Today, we listen to the rush of the river, shared laughter with friends and strangers, and enjoy a cold beer.
PS. Pictures are going to be rare. WordPress on the iPhone just isn’t picture friendly. Or at least it’s smarter than me. But for now here are a few…
Paella and beer. Perfecto!!
Cemetary along the way.
And We are Off!
Last night I was fortunate enough to find a hotel in St Jean. With St Jean being the start of the Camino on the French side, the city sells out very quickly, often with reservations months in advance. While hotels are not the pilgrims way, I hadn’t sleep well in 4 nights and decided I wanted a private room to relax and unwind, with a private bath before venturing into the hostel arena.
Shortly after our arrival I set out to find a hotel. I check at 6 hotels before I found one with an opening. 60 Euro later, I had a rather nice room on the second floor of the Continental Hotel. The bathroom was interestingly decorated with the walls being tiled in a medium pink shade of porcelain. As some would say, fitting considering the company.
I am still dumbfounded by the check-in process. Continue Reading