A mountain too far

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Way in the distance as far as you can see is the mountain that we started from this morning but the far side of it!
Way in the distance as far as you can see is the mountain that we started from this morning but the far side of it!

Iconic sculpture on the mountain but without the view
Iconic sculpture on the mountain but without the view

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Shells embedded in the pavement to follow
Shells embedded in the pavement to follow

I woke at 5.50am this morning and lay for a minute before getting up as there is no point hanging around. It isn’t as if it’s a relaxing start with a mug of Yorkshire builders tea. You get turfed out of these places at 8am if you haven’t already left. Not like a hotel but the owner has to clean up and make it look presentable for the next lot that turn up in a few hours. I

We were ready to leave with our packs on by 6.30am and I went into the kitchen to get a coffee from the machine. I hadn’t done so before but Gerrard and Sylvie said they were going to. As it was the French couple had made their own coffee and offered me one. It was a NescafĂ© sachet but beggars can’t choose. In the kitchen there was a kettle. I was gutted. If I had known I would’ve got some milk, even if it meant leaving most of it in the fridge. I would have made us a cuppa to start the day. I have 6x 2cup tea bags with me so far untouched. It’s my fault. I should have looked.

Sylvie gave us a pain au chocolat each from a pack they had bought in Carrefour in Pamplona. Ah Carrefour. Those who read the cycling blogs will k ow that is my favourite supermarket and I used to post photos of them. I’m mad I know. We were grateful for the snack and we all put our packs on to leave.

Gerrard has a friend who walked the entire Camino 9 times and he had marked off the places he tevvomended in Gerard’s guide which was now his bible. On my an were were walking from Cizor Menor to Puente del Raina today but they were going to the tiny village 5Km further on called Maneru. The Cyclist said we should aim for that as we were only planning to walk 20Km and that wasn’t far. I was reserving judgement as my legs would make that decision.

I had lay down for an hour the afternoon before after being told firmly to rest by the Cyclist, to try to help rest my weary, well everything from the waist down. I knew we had a mountain today and it was coming very quickly about a mile along. I had started quite well and my legs didn’t feel too bad however it wasn’t long before that was going to change.

The mountain was an 8.5Km climb to the top. As soon we started our wY up I began to slow and my legs were really feeling it. I was explaining to the cyclist that I found these steep rocky climbs very hard. He dispensed his advice later described as the school of tough love. The top half of the mountain was shrouded in cloud so we knew it would be cold and wet. The higher we got the slower I became. About a mile from the top The Cyclist took my pack off me and began to power up the track faster than I could without mine. The wind was gusting so it blew you sideways and I was careful to stay away from the edge.

At the top there was a sculpture that is a famous landmark for those on the Camino. The Cyclist was waiting for me and handed me my pack. I felt like a failure and ached so much. I had my photo taken and he got us walking down the other side quickly before the cold set into our bones. The descent was no less steep and was stones and boulders which was obviously the snow melt river bed. At least the wind had stopped as it was blowing towards the side we climbed. It was the same distance down to the next town and the thought of a warm drink spurred us on.

We stopped for a coffee for about 15mins and on the way out in walked the French couple. Off we went towards our planned stop. The little towns are not on top of each other like at home. There is often 2 or 3 miles or more between each and they are deserted. If you have ever been in rural Spain you will know that shops are often in people’s houses or just a doorway that is so indiscriminate you don’t know it’s there.

Puente del Raina was pretty and d with tiny street with buildings close together with a tiny one was street just wide enough for a car.

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Where we were heading to mountain in the clouds
Where we were heading to mountain in the clouds

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We walked straight through the town as It was only 11am and the Cyclist said there was no way we were stopping.

Leaving Peunta across the medieval bridge
Leaving Peunta across the medieval bridge

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Before we got to Maneru (the tiny town Gerard and Sylvie were staying at) the was another climb. I didn’t know it was coming and by now you know what I’m going to say, it was steep. Just like the climbs the cyclist did in italy. No slower gentler Roland like in the Alps, just sharp climbs. The Cyclist was chatting the the Philipeno chap who is an air host(ess) and was over the top before I was half was. I was on my last legs. My body was screaming for me to stop and I had to put every ounce of determination I had got top get to the top. I have never felt so physically wiped before. When I eventually got to the top o was fit to drop. We hadn’t even got to the town yet. I am ashamed to say I shed a few tears. The Cyclist was walking back to me and asked why I was upset. He didn’t get it as he was fresh as a daisy. A few deep breaths and a minute later we were on our way. Part way down we approached the town. It was very small and we knew the next town was 3.5km further on. Let’s walk on he said so on we went.

The track was very pretty and the hedgerows were full of poppies. The fragrance from the flowers was lovely. It’s so nice to get wafts of fragrance along the way. Especially when you aren’t fragrant yourself!

The town of Ciraqui was built on a steep hill just like the ones in Italy had been. There was only one place to stay here and it had 28 beds so I was glad we hadn’t arrived late. It was about 1pm and we had walked over 16 miles. The owner opened early to book us in and was amazed when the Cyclist told her where we had walked from. She said normally people who start from their wouldn’t arrive until 4pm. He said she told him he was walking me too fast.

We were given bottom bunks in a room with an American lady who had just retired. She was a professional dancer and choreographer. I enquires what type of dance and she said modern dance, then rolled off dance companies and choreographers she had worked with. I didn’t know any of them but she was impressed when I told her that Angel 2 was a dancer and taught PE and Dance at High School.

While sat on the balcony tucking into bread and cheese I’d bought, we got talking to a couple of others that had arrived. One was an Irish guy that had just spent a week in Lourdes. He said one week a year he took sick people from Ireland there to be blessed and he helped out on the wards. He said that was his one good thing he did as the rest of the time he was partying it up at festivals like Glastonbury.

He really made us laugh with stories of two Danish chaps he had walked with today. He was doing actions and swearing like a trouper on a thick Irish accent. It’s the first real laugh all week. We also spoke to an Italian girl from the Dolomites. Her dad is a ski instructor and she ski’s all winter and cycles up mountains in the summer. I felt quite inadequate as I was completely knackered in the foot and leg department.

While the cyclist was watching something on the kindle and I went outside to make a call as I was in need of some support from someone who understands physical challenge and wouldn’t mind if I get upset. I had hit a wall today. I knew this would be hard but the pain in your feet and your knees plus exhaustion is worse than I expected.

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