Camino de Santiago – Week

Day 1

I already mentioned the first day on the low road to Valcarlos at mike 7. Little elevation gain, fine weather. Only one other person in the alberge (hostel). She snored like a chainsaw.

Day 2

The climbing began in light rain paralleling a secondary road. The body seemed to working as hoped. My rain jacked kept me dry without excessive sweating. Betsy and I kept on the road rather than hike on what appeared to be a minimal trail. A lowlight of the day featured about two dozen speeding Porsches and Mercedes roaring alone, but they missed us at least two feet. At last we left the paved road for what appeared to be the old gravel road. After 2,000 feet of climbing we topped out and descended to a bar where we warmed up, ate, and drank coffee. In better spirits, we walked three more miles to Espinal and got beds at the Haizel albergue. A communal dinner filled us up then bed.

Day 3

On the path after a low volume breakfast. The path mostly ran among dirt tracks through forest and past pastures with horses grazing. It wasn’t clear if the horses did any work. On the descent to Zubiri, I slipped on loose gravel and left some skin on the rocks. Lunch in Zubiri next to Rio Arya (see photo). thought about staying here for a short day but no room. Onward for seven more miles to a former convent turned into an albergue. We got beds next to Americans from MD and AZ. The communal dinner featured plenty of food and animated conversation among the 16 hikers.

Day 4

Betsy and I filled up at breakfast then hit the trail. We walked along farm fields the along roads to outskirts of Pamplona, pop. 200,000. Route-finding proved easy through the city thanks to many yellow arrows and Camino markers. We climbed about 800 feet to a ridge with windmills and metal human figures that seemed to represent the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Downward on slippery gravel paths to Uterga and the Baztan albergue. Showers, clothes washing and drying them yet another delightful communal dinner.

Day 5

This morning’s low-volume breakfast left up wanting more. We walked on flat farm ground to Estella then on dirt and gravel paths paralleling major highway A-12. Mostly we were out of earshot of the traffic. Some forest and mostly small farm fields. Pretty easy walking to Villatuerta and the Casa Magica albergue. After a shower I took a short nap because I was tired. Dinner was delayed until 8 pm to wait for a dozen Portuguese hikers. They arrived with lots of songs end enthusiasm which continued until 11 pm.

Day 6

Up early and hiking at 7 after a hefty breakfast. We descended to Estella then walked through forest and past farm fields. A climb of about 1,000 feet to Villamayor de Motjardin tuckered us out but we refueled at a bar with other hikers. Downward for seven miles to Lis Arcos and the Casa abuela albergue which was not yet open. Betsy and I planned tomorrow’s walk then checked in. We met other hikers whom we previously met. A great communal dinner followed by a short walk to the cathedral, a stupendous architectural and aesthetic wonder.

Day 7

This will be our longest day yet at 17.3 miles. My legs are getting stronger but are not yet in trail shape. About 1,000 feet of elevation gain today with up’s and downs past farm fields of wheat, barley, and peas. We passed several small ancient stone huts were serfs may have guarded the crops from bandits. Much sun and warm air today. We drank lots of water. Into Logrono, the capital of the Spanish state of La Rioja. Betsy and I met a French lady who hiked the AZ trail last year. In town. We found the Winderful albergue and found some friends then checked out the town. The cathedral exceeded our expectations.

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