We left our room in St Jean Pied de Port about 6:30 AM to start waking the Camino de Santiago after a two night stay in SJPDP. We were excited about beginning the adventure. Since it was still dark we wore our headlamps so we could see the markers, either a yellow arrow or a scallop shell.
We headed up the hill which became steeper with each step. Rick always walks like he’s on a mission to get somewhere quickly and pulled ahead with Dave walking along side. It wasn’t long before they were well ahead. My arthritic left knee could not maintain the same speed and I realized right away that I often be walking alone. And that was alright with me. My mantra for the last year is a that everyone to walk their own Camino (Way) to Santiago and through life.
For my part, this was the hardest walk of my life. Even though I had trained for nearly two years walking eight to ten miles a day, I was ill prepared for the great change in elevation. The degree of elevation on my treadmill was maybe ten percent of what we were experiencing. Rick commented at the end of the day that it was harder than any of his hikes in the Grand Canyon. All of us were hurting at the end. Dave stated that the descent was harder than the climb.
As hard as it was, the experience was amazing as we enjoyed the majestic views from the Pyrenees. The walk started off foggy but we were soon high enough to be above the clouds. There will be many fantastic landscape photographs posted when I get home. I’ll try to post some on my Facebook page as we do this walk, but I only have internet service at the Albergues at night and, to be honest, we are all very tired when we finally arrive at our destination.
The mountains are alive with the sounds of cow bells, The hills are littered with sheep, cattle and horse wearing their bells. A one point we were approached by a Jeep with someone holding a small bucket of feed. Following behind were ten or twelve cows probably being move to another area for grazing.
The horses and cows several times were blocking the path. They will slowly move out of the way as you approach. I stopped for few moments to scratch the nose of huge horse hanging out at a water stop. There are few areas along with the way with faucets for filling up your water bottles. It is important to stay hydrated.
When I finally exited the mountains to enter Roncesville there was a huge monestary, the Real Colegiata de Roncesvalles. That’s where I would stay whether Rick and Dave were there or not. I could go no further.
I saw Dave at the entrance and was happy to see him.