Pamplona to Puente la Reina — 15 1/2 Miles
We awoke again with queazy stomachs — just not wanting to put anything in them. Dick felt good about his decision not to walk today. He was going to check into renting a car or taking the bus to our next destination. I took some stuff out of my backpack and gave it to him to carry so my load would be a little lighter. I love my backpack and didn’t want to be without it. I’ve rigged it so that my camera is attached to one side of the front strap and my water bottle is attached to the other side. When I want a drink it is right there at mouth level and I don’t have to stop to take a drink.
Dick said he would walk me to the start of the Camino route because I wasn’t sure of my way out of Old Town. It was very close but we still weren’t sure which way to go. We asked a policeman and he pointed the way, then Dick and I said goodbye. I started walking alone and was immediately lost. Two streets came together and I wasn’t sure which one to take and I didn’t see any Camino signs. So I turned around and there was the policeman — who had followed me — and again he pointed me in the right direction. It was then that I started to see the Camino signs — little clam shells embedded in the sidewalk every 20 feet. It was so reassuring to see them.
I walked through Pamplona and along beautiful tree lined parks, passing another young girl who was also walking the Camino. I called out “Buen Camino” and she answered with the same. Then I thought, “Gee, she is young and I’m walking faster than she is.” After about a mile I started getting worried. Where were the Camino signs? Why had they stopped? I looked everywhere and didn’t see any. Then a woman came by, looked at me and said, “Camino?” When I said “Si” this sweet lady told me I had to go back a block and turn left. Just then the young girl arrived and so did a fellow on a bicycle who I had run into several times on the Camino. I told both of them we were all going the wrong way. We all backtracked and were on the right track again.
The young girl, Kristina, and I started walking together again. Our strides were about the same and it was great walking with someone else. Kristina was from Italy and had just graduated with an engineering degree and was doing the Camino as a reward before starting work. We talked non-stop and were soon out of Pamplona and onto a real path instead of roads. The terrain started gradually going uphill and I was breathing hard at times and it was difficult to talk because I couldn’t breathe and talk at the same time. Kristina, on the other hand, had no trouble. Whereas I would have stopped to catch my breath I kept going to just keep up with Kristina. After about 7 miles I had had it. We were going more steeply uphill and I knew I had to stop. She, however was not even winded. I said my goodbyes and that I’d probably see her in another village.
I was finally able to stop for a minute or two to catch my breath and then the terrain went up to the top of the mountain. It was two more miles up. I passed a couple of little villages but walked right through them because I just wanted to get to the summit. Finally after 3 1/2 hours and 9 miles I was there. This was Alto del Perdon and placed at this summit were several huge metal sculptures of Pilgrims from the past. There were a bunch of other trekkers there who had stopped for a break. I stopped just long enough to snap a couple photos and was off again. For the first mile it was a dangerously steep downhill with large rocks and gravel that could easily slip out from under your feet. I made it O.K. without falling and then the terrain went gradually downhill with just a little uphill.
All day as I passed other trekkers I heard them talking about the blisters on their feet. I was so thankful that to this point I had no blisters and my feet felt great. Walking on I passed through several cute little villages but the problem was that they didn’t post signs saying their names. In one village I found a place to sit in the shade and finally stopped for a break. I still hadn’t eaten and wasn’t hungry but was trying to drink a lot of water. I checked my phone and had a text from Dick telling me he was catching a bus and where he had made reservations for the night. After this 15 minute break I got up to start walking again and all the muscles in my legs were killing me. This was always what happened when I sat down for a break. For me, it was better to remain standing and keep walking. I knew I should be getting close to Puente la Reina but had no idea where I really was. The path went into a central square in a village and I wasn’t sure I had walked out of it in the right direction. There were no Camino signs and I saw no other trekkers. Then I saw two women sitting at the side of the path and asked them if this was the Camino and they waved me on.
By this time I was getting really exhausted. I was using Map My Walk so I knew how many miles I had walked but wasn’t exactly sure how much farther I had to go. I was about ready to drop when the path abruptly came out of the woods and there right in front of me was the hotel that Dick had booked. I was so relieved. I checked in and found out I had beat him there. Once in the room I stripped off my smelly shirt and flopped down on the bed. Dick arrived a short time later and we both slept for the next couple of hours.
After showering, using that wonderful blow dryer in the bathroom and washing my clothes we went to the patio downstairs for a drink. There was a German man sitting next to us who told us many stories and also said how far he walked each day. What took me two days to walk, he did in one day. He had also walked from Frankfort, to France and then through Spain. This was his second time doing the Camino. I asked him why he did this and he almost got tears in his eyes and said it was a life changing experience. That walking it had completely changed him — gave him a new life and also a new meaning to life. But then he was quick to say that each person has to walk the Camino alone, on his own time and at his own pace. Well, that´s certainly what Dick and I were doing.
Sent from Karen’s iPad