Guidebooks can really be misleading. My guidebook’s elevation diagram for today showed three distinct peaks we’d be climbing. Up, then right back down, then right back up, and down, and once more up and down.
Back to that in a second.
I woke up this morning a 6:45. It was very disorienting, a jolt awake, opening my eyes to an almost empty room. Only my Korean friends remained, and they were packing up. I don’t know HOW I slept through everyone around me packing and leaving, when the rest of the night I slept so poorly. Actually, maybe that’s why I didn’t wake up this time.
After a quick breakfast at the albergue, we were off. I walked more or less alone today. I kept turning around in the early morning to admire the sunrise and the days of sun shining through the clouds to illuminate the village behind us.
I stopped for a quick second breakfast of croissant and drink. (If an albergue serves breakfast it is essentially a slice of baguette-style bread and jam. Not exactly filling.) Directly out of the village we began our first climb. It was some serious climbing – and my criteria for serious climbs have changed since starting the Camino. I know I have said this before, but I’ll say it again: no matter the toughness of the slog up the mountainside, it’s worth it when you get to look out over a valley below you. It’s a little amusing when you stop at what you think must be the top and admire the views, and then turn a corner on the path and see the hill stretch out endlessly before you again.
Once up the first peak, we walked and walked and walked. Finally, we descended very sharply to a river. Some cyclists went flying by me at that point, but I was gratified to see that the way up was so steep they actually had to dismount to ascend. And then I had to ascend, too, and it wasn’t as amusing, but the steepness meant it was done pretty quickly. Then we walked for ages and ages again through woods. There was nothing to look at, no valleys to admire, no villages to break things up. Altogether it was 12 kilometres up on that ridge. Finally, the path descended right into the next village. I’m not sure why my guidebook had that third peak in there, because we definitely didn’t climb one. Even with directions , you never quite know where you’re going of how long things will take. My maps are also no drawn to scale , I’m beginning to think.
Anyway, after a quick lunch break I made my way slowly through another woods and then along another ridge. The valleys stretched out on either side of me , and the wind was quite strong. I was alone, and sat for a while just singing some of How Great Thou Art:
When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
And hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook
And feel the gentle breeze
Then sings my soul
My Saviour, God, to thee
How great thou art!
How great thou art!
Then sings my soul
My Saviour, God, to thee
How great thou art!
How great thou art!

I shall rest my weary legs for a while (although when you consider that I hiked 23 km today, with some descent ascent, my legs are really doing well!) and then see what this town has to offer!

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