I put up photos of our mountain exertions in the previous post. If you want to hear how easy, relaxing and enjoyable this is then I am afraid this post isn’t for you.
We set off up to travers a couple of Col’s (mountain tops) at 9am. The Cyclust had said we had a hard day ahead based on the distance to the next stop and the climb we had ahead. It was thick with fog and raining and I had hopes of this clearing as the morning wore on as we set off up the road.
It was steep from the get go and my knees and Quads were feeling the climb from the previous day. Up up we went and the higher we got, the heavier the rain, the colder the air and the stronger the wind. We had only been going about 1ina when I had to ask for help to get out of my fleece under my rain poncho. Not from the outside temperature but from me working really hard and over heating.
We passed a few pilgrims in various bunches as the Cyclist does not dawdle and I work hard to keep up. After a bout an hour my trouser bottoms r were soaked and my right foot had begun to feel wet inside my shoe. Yep. Ten minutes later it was well and truly wet. Not damp but soaking squelching wet. I didn’t get it. I was questioning the Cyclist about how this could be when the shoes were badged as waterproof and I had doused them twice in waterproof spray. His answer was that nothing at all was waterproof in this amount of rain and we could only hope that the insides of our packs would stay dry. About half and hour later the left shoe went the same way and I could feel water inside my shoe, swishing forward and back. I kid you not, nor exaggerate. My feet were soaking, freezing and I knew they would look like pickled prunes when my socks came off.
About half way up the mountain the yellow arrows and red&white stripe that we follow for the Camino, took us off the single Tarmac track onto a goat track of mud and rocks. Still up. Climbing steeply over slippery rocks, through mud and lots of animal waste. I was breathing really fast through my mouth and the Cyclist was firmly telling me to breathe through my nose in long breaths as I was hyper ventilating. I know how to breath I just completely forgot as I was soaked and freezing going ever up into the fog. My trouser got so wet that the water began to soak upwards under my poncho right to the top so even my knickers were soaked.
I don’t know how long it took to traverse the tops of the mountains, only that my face was wet and numb and my fingers so swollen and cold, that I could not move them. The Cyclist was in the same boat as me, but up the technical slippy rocky parts he went on ahead as he said he walks at one speed. I don’t go quite as quickly up hills and I was pushing on my legs with the corresponding arm, mentally pushing my legs straight to get me one step further up.
Eventually we began to descend and as the weather had not let up, this was no lass difficult. It was slippy mud, boulders and big drops of rock to get down. In fact in some ways it was harder and I was probably slower. We arrived in Roncesvalles 4 hours after starting when the time given at the start said it is 4.5 hours in good weather. So I had done well to keep up as well as I did and thanked the Vyclist for waiting for me when he lost sight of me.
We were absolutely frozen to the bone and headed to the nearest cafe for a warm drink. I wanted to remove my shoes and socks but o was told not to as I wouldn’t put them on again. That sounded like a plan to me! After a Cafe con Lecce for us both (which we held with our hands cupped around to warm them) and a slice of Tortilla, we put our raincoats back on with our packs and headed for Espinal 6.5lm away. I had read that there was a fairly new nice hostal there which was family run and much smaller than the one in Roncesvalles where 99% of pilgrims would be staying that night. It has 180 beds/90 bunks, in a huge room.
We were the first to arrive and The Cyclist quickly had a shower (two communal showers and toilet) before anyone else arrived. Just as he finished a group of Spanish ladies arrived. Oh my it suddenly became lime a hive of washer women. It didn’t stop. I quickly grabbed a shower and washed out stuff so I could start drying them. This became quite a battle with 10 Spanish women trying to do the same and moving your stuff so theirs was nearer.
The Cyclist stuffed our shoes with newspaper on arrival and sometime later I did the cardinal sin and put them on the radiator. I didn’t care I did not want to put dry feet and socks into wet shoes. Oh no.
As Espinal was a no horse town literally, I said we would have the pigeon dinner they offered at €10 each. This was a small bowl of cold pasta tossed in ragu and 3 round of pork about the diameter of a satsuma. They did me a plain 2egg omlette. Dinner was a sin value yoghurt. The Cyclist was not impressed but I was quite hungry and I didn’t care.