Total distance 100 km
Daily average 25
Today’s accumulated uphill elevation 691m
Today’s accumulated downhill elevation 602m
Once again I forgot to turn on the GPS on leaving the albergue, but I also forgot to turn it off when arriving at my destination, so I think the two cancel each other out.
Last evening I was invited to join a few pilgrims at the bar. And why would I decline? So, we were Mexican, American, German and English. I had already drunk half a bottle of cava (my sensible limit) so I just ordered agua con gas. The conversation was interesting and inevitably touched upon the ‘trump’ issue, but not on the ‘brexit’ issue (a referendum in June relating to the possibility that the UK could leave the European Union.
When we returned to the albergue I counted 22 pairs of boots, which surprised me. I didn’t get to see many of the occupants – when I left this morning there remained around 12 pairs of boots!
Although today was the first forecast without rain, and for cloudy sun, it was actually the coldest day so far on this Camino. I even wore my gloves for the first twenty minutes or so.
This is a fairly typical demonstration of the tracks on this Camino. If you see an option for a lower and an upper trail, you can be assured that you will need to take the upper path, and continue in an upward direction for a very long time. Until you have to walk downhill, very steeply, and then uphill again. This has been a very reliable feature thus far.
More adorable tiny ponies with newborn foals were in abundance, together with the occasional herd of goats, chickens, cows and sheep.
Most of the track today was through pine forrest on a mixture of dirt, rock, gravel and concrete track. It was hard going and very steep – unrelentingly steeply uphill. So far this Camino has been very hard, as my research had warned me – a real challenge. The first half of the walk was fairly dry and easy underfoot but that changed to very muddy with long stretches of yucky deep puddles to negotiate.
The way marking seemed to be very clear to begin with, but I think I missed a sign (probably when I was doing my Doctor Doolittle impression and talking to the animals). I became aware that there were no arrows, but yellow/white lines. I followed these for a while and then came upon some pilgrims walking in the opposite direction. I had passed them earlier, so I couldn’t have walked too far out of my way.
Just after we reached the peak of our 500m ascent I had the urge to walk with purpose. I have spent three and a half days mincing along at a boringly slow pace, due to the steep inclines and slippery muddy surfaces. But now I wanted to motor, so I plugged into my Camino playlist and off I went like a bullet out of a gun. I flew for about eight kms and absolutely loved it. But then a short sharp ascent and a perilously steep descent brought me to my senses and I slowed right down again. But I really enjoyed myself for a while. I naturally walk quite fast and have been feeling very ploddy so far on this Camino.
Part way through the day I appealed to my Camino angels to provide me with a bench or rock to sit on for a break, and around the next corner I saw this…perfect
My guide book told me that the municipal albergue in Markina-Xemein was closed until 1 May. But I thought I would give them a ring anyway just in case things had changed – and lo and behold they had. And here I am in a very nice donativo albergue with 28 beds, and plenty of separate bathroom facilities (and even a hairdryer amazingly).
I had a drink with the same gang as last night, plus Alex from Columbia and made the mistake of ordering a menu del dia which I ate a fraction of. I must remember not to do this again – I don’t need that much food.
All in all, a most satisfying day.