Camino Diary Entry #5

First steps of The Way from St Jean Pier de Port

First step on The Way leaving St Jean Pied de Port

(Emails home from the Camino Adventure) June 1st 2012
#5 St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles – 26 kms /10 hours

The general plan was for an early start to the ‘big day out’. With a degree of trepidation we eased from our beds and from the balcony, surveyed the fog smothered valley.
Our host scoffed at our late arrival in the dining room as we had earlier expressed displeasure at having to wait until 7.30am for breakfast. None the less, we tanked up on copious amounts of coffee and tea and the best croissants on the planet!
Full as a couple of old boots, we finally saddled up with our day bags, dragged our luggage to reception for courier transport and stepped outside. Much to our surprise by now there was no sign of fog and the sun was already beating down!

Feigning courage we headed across the road, up the cobbled lane of the medieval town and started our hunt for ‘Pilgrim signs’ (yellow arrows and scallop shells).
Very quickly we realized the cloud was gone for good and we were in for a scorching day. A local gentleman leaning over his garden fence, shook his head at us and tapped his watch – clearly we had left our start unacceptably late.
The hill climb started almost immediately. Frantic sipping from water bottles, pauses in the shade and with a lack of spare lung capacity, there was very little talking! We settled into our own rhythm of heads down and various swings of the hiking poles.

A perfect day – as Gwyneth was frequently heard to comment “not a ……… cloud in the sky”.47 The countryside was still and shimmering in the heat as we climbed and climbed. Birds sang, we admired the scenery and climbed. From time to time we thought we had been joined by the Hare Krishnas – not so, just a lot of farm animals swinging their ‘cow bell’ as they dined out on the lush green grass! Every animal had a bell – cows, sheep, horses – at times the valley was almost noisy. And we kept climbing.

We reached our first landmark at 11 am. Much to our surprise we found our new friend Veronica already there!


Refuge Orisson , 8kms

“Goodness! ” we exclaimed “what time did you set out?”. “I left at 6.45 “she drawled out in her Canadian accent “… And you guys?” we felt really bad telling her we had only left at 9 am! (quietly we were absolutely delighted that we had covered the same distance in 2 1/4 hours less than a 27 year old!)

Apparently as soon as Veronica had started the hill climb she had had ‘a moment’ whereby the thought of not continuing had consumed her!

And still we climbed! Struggling into the Refuge Orisson after 4 hours (and 8 kms), we downed a cold drink, ate a sandwich and looked with some pity on the odd sprained ankle or blistered foot being rested (and this is only the middle of Day 1!).

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