Travel Date: Thursday, April 17 2014
I noticed while packing for the morning (6:30 AM) that I could not find my credentials. I unpacked my entire bag and repacked it. Very frustrating. I went downstairs for the breakfast of champions (Nutella and French bread – *and served in France), and told one of the albergue volunteers but they didn’t locate any laying around.
After consuming numerous calorie intake for the first walk, I went back to credential office next door and informed them that I lost my credentials and needed another. The guy working the credential office looked in the lost/found section and gave me my credentials. Apparently when I went back to pick up my shell, I put down my credentials, picked up the shell for my backpack, and left the office leaving my credentials there. I guess I lost my credentials in the best place to lose my credentials – the main office.
I went back and got my credentials for my stay at L’Esprit du ChemiN and headed on out to begin my Camino.
It was a little chilly in the morning so having layers is helpful. There are two routes to take to get to Roncesvalles, the final destination for the day: Route de Napoleon and Route Valcarious. Route de Napoleon is a strenuous uphill walk with beautiful views of the Pyrenees and since the weather is sunny and clear with no clouds I opt for that.
It was a strenuous walk. But the views of leaving Saint Jean Pied de Port (SJPP) and the rest of the scenery at various ascents is priceless.
After a challenging 600 ft climb in the first 7km and dodging a few reckless French drivers I make it to our first stop at Orrison. While climbing I make a few new friends and walking buddies: There is Daniel from America, and Fernando from Spain who I met earlier last night, and their buddies Rebeca and Josean from Pamplona, Spain. Along the walk, Fairus from Brazil joins the group and one of her friends. The view at Orrison is spectacular.
The views after we leave Orrison just continue to get better. We reach the statue of the Virgin Verge d’Orrison and an amazing backdrop of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
At this point I am doing well. My legs, back and shoulders are in good shape, however a few moments later the Camino challenges me. After we cross from France into Spain, I feel a sharp pain in my right hip whenever I take the next step. I am forced to go much slower and end up deserting my friends.
There is a gradual steep climb from Orrison to Lepoeder and after my hip issue I am getting tired really quickly. I literally stop for a few second every hundred meters. I am trying to figure out mentally why my right hip is having an issue and not my left. The only thing I can think of is that the weight in my backpack is perhaps distributed unevenly to my right side, so I stop, take a break, unpack and repack my gear differently. I don’t notice a difference immediately but perhaps it will take a few days to see if the hip pain revisits.
One of the benefits of challenge of the Camino, is you learn to listen to your body and what it is telling you. You also listen to your inner mental chatter and how you think whether positive and negative. Additionally you sometimes find yourself in awe of the scenery and fully present, until you are distracted with a thought of ‘Oh I need to take a picture of this to capture the moment.’ There is soo much going on, it is very difficult to mindful of the present – same as in regular day life.
After a slow and continuous struggle I finally get to the top of the mountain overlooking the Navarre and I can see Roncesvalles.
The end is near and I get a second wind. However the sharp 400 ft descent in 4km with weak legs, dehydrated body, and a sore right hip is finding the descent more challenging that any ascent. I finally make it to the albergue at Roncesvalles and I am sooo happy today is over.
I’ve learned that while I hate uphill climbs I hate high grade downhill slopes even more. Uphill climbs are like the challenges you don’t want in life but take on anyway. And when you get done with it, sometimes you are given a steep downhill descent that makes you regret wishing for something else in the first place. Life is full of uphill climbs and downhill descents with different grades of steepness. Only thing that matters is your attitude and response – and perhaps your non-attachment to receiving for whatever comes your way.
I arrive around 4 PM, check in, shower, and meet up with my friends who charged ahead and enjoy a cold beverage. I meet some new people and have the peregrino meal dinner at 7 PM with a different group. Interesting take on fish and chips and I love how fish is served with the bone and skin here.
After dinner with my new friends, I head on to bed with 150 people. The symphony of snores, squeaky beds, random noises and FARTS is definitely an experience.
It looks like jet lag kicks in and I awaken at 1 AM to type this post. Now I’m getting sleepy eyed and am going back to bed. Tomorrow I head out 25 Kms to Larrasoana.
Expenses: 20 Euros
Notes: I didn’t track my expenses diligently. I believe the large albergue was about 6 Euros, the dinner was about 9 Euros, and my random expenses for drinks etc was probably under 5 Euros. Safe to round it to 20 Euros.