Woke up at 7:30 a.m. and when I tried to get up every muscle in my body hurt, especially my neck. It was hard to lift my head off the pillow. I felt like a 90 year old woman as I slowly made my way out of bed. Dick was sitting in the other room and had been up since 5 o’clock. He said he was just too exhausted from his previous 17 hour day to get much sleep. His body also ached and we both had sore throats from all the mouth breathing we had done yesterday. He said he didn’t want to walk, that he just couldn’t. Not only his body ached but the peripheral neuropathy in his feet was what was killing him. I didn’t want to walk either but after being up a few minutes the aches and pains diminished and I knew I had to get out and get going.
We skipped breakfast, I put on my backpack and we went to the Albergue (Pilgrim Hostel) to get our Credentials stamped. We said our goodbyes and I started my walk. Dick checked out of the hotel and waited for a bus to take him to our final destination for today which was a town called Zubiri. He waited an hour at the bus stop and said the bus came and passed right by without stopping. So he and another guy (who had wrecked on his bike and was quitting the Camino) shared a cab to Zubiri.
Zubiri was about 22 kilometers away. I wasn’t sure how hard todays trek would be but one of the books I had read said this day would be a “walk in the park” compared to yesterday. So I was relieved and thought this would be an easy day. The weather was chilly, there was a slight breeze (no wind) and I started out walking on flat land. The scenery was just beautiful and the path meandered through beautiful pastures with horses grazing and at times the path was surrounded by huge trees and wild flowers of every color. I walked on bridges that were over little creeks and through quaint villages. A couple of times I was unsure of the right way to go but then I would look for other trekkers and follow them. One time I was kind of lost and two other trekkers came along so I asked them which way to go and they pointed to the yellow arrows painted on the street. Oh! I had been looking for the little Camino clamshells posted on the sides of buildings or posts that showed people which way to go. I didn’t even realize their were also little yellow arrows painted on buildings and roads.
As I walked and munched on a little sandwich I was thinking, “Gee, this is really great.” And then the terrain changed. I was back to going uphill again and started making frequent stops just to catch my breath. I walked really fast going downhill or on flat land because all I could think about was the fact that Dick would have a hotel room waiting for me when I got to Zubiri. But the fast walking ended with every uphill climb where I became as slow as a slug. At times the path would go downhill and then flat for a while but then always uphill again. I tried to pass as many people on the trail as I could but it was really hard to pass people who were using trekking poles. If there were two people side by side using poles they took up the whole path and often times there wasn’t any way around them.
I finally got a text from Dick telling me he was checking into a hostel (just a small quaint hotel) and that gave me all the more motivation to get there. Today I was dehydrated and drinking a lot of water. I only had one pint with me and was running out and rationing myself when suddenly I came upon a food truck sitting in the middle of nowhere. I bought more water and was good to go again. I should have carried more water with me but I just didn’t want to manage the extra weight that would add to my pack.
People were a little friendlier today than yesterday. Today they actually talked whereas yesterday everyone pretty much kept to themselves. I think all their energy was going toward just trying to get up the mountain. Several times I passed the same trio of trekkers and finally one of them started talking to me while we walked together. He was 74 years old and his wife was 72. I asked him how they all did yesterday on that walk over the Pyrenees from St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles and he said it wasn’t so bad because he had previously walked the Inca Trail. Other people I talked to said yesterday was the worst day ever — and I agreed with them!
Finally after 22 kilometers and five and a half hours of walking I reached Zubiri. When I went to the front desk of the hostel I told the receptionist that I would be joining Dick in his room. She gave me the oddest look and she said that his son was supposed to be joining him. The woman didn’t speak hardly any English so when Dick had checked in he had told her his hijo (son) would be coming. He thought hijo meant wife. We had a good laugh about it. So far my Spanish has come in very handy because I have talked to so many people who don’t speak English.
When I got to the room I could tell that Dick had been sleeping. I was just exhausted and dropped my backpack to the floor, pulled off my shoes, layed my weary body down on the bed and went sound asleep. Dick went back to sleep, too. Waking up 2 hours later was just awful. I could hardly move and the muscle aches and pains all over my body were agonizing. Again they subsided a bit when I got up and moved around the room. Dick was still sleeping even after I had showered and washed my clothes. Finally at a quarter to ten I woke him and said we had better get some dinner. We ate a 3 course meal in the dining room and the food and wine were terrific.
Dick talked to a man at our hostel whose first day of trekking was today and he said it was just “killer.” If he thought today was bad he would have died doing yesterday. Another man who was the manager of an Albergue said that the winds were always fierce on that trek through the Pyrenees. I have read so many books written by people who had done this trek and not once did any of them mention the wind. One woman said that the wind was so fierce it was blowing peoples backpacks a ways away. I also talked to a group of Canadians who had started their trek today in Roncesvalles. They were with a guide who knew to avoid doing yesterday because it was just so strenuous. My advice to anyone considering doing the Camino is to start in Roncesvalles and avoid the trek between St. Jean Pied de Port, France and Roncesvalles, Spain. Today wasn’t especially easy but yesterday takes the cake!