I didn’t sleep well last night (not much new there!) but this was due to concern over the weather for our ‘up and over’ stage. We were both ready to leave early this morning and were out of the albergue well before 07:00. As expected the cloud was low and the air was fresh, but the rain held off for the most part. Almost as soon as we left the village I realised I needed to strip off a layer. I was wearing almost all my clothes and the exertion of a steep climb soon had me hot and bothered. So after dispensing with my fleece I was wearing a sleeveless merino top, arm warmers, leggings, skirt, long scarf and raincoat. In anticipation of cool temperatures in the mountains I had purchased an extra pair of gloves in León, a size too big so I could wear them over my lightweight pair. Icy hands had caused me to be really chilled on my previous encounter with low temperatures and I didn’t want a repeat experience of that.
So I was well wrapped up but not likely to overheat. It was a little daunting to be walking into the cloud, but it wasn’t too dense and the mountain scenery was rather ethereal, with jagged rocks jutting into the misty sky. We walked ever upwards through a guard of honour of bright yellow broom and pinky-purple heather.
Within the first few km we reached a pass and were surprised that the valley beyond was clear of cloud. The scenery was spell-binding. We were surrounded by 360 degrees of jutting peaks, green valleys, purple heather covered hillsides, an incredible array of wild flowers, babbling streams, tiny stone villages, hard stony tracks, soft muddy tracks, slippery gravel tracks, steep tracks up and down. A total of 833 m uphill elevation and 949 m down.
A relatively short distance at just under 24 km, but a stage that tested our strength and endurance. We felt rightly proud of ourselves when we finally reached Pajares after being on the move for over nine hours, and discovered that the other six pilgrims at the albergue had walked from Poladura, a mere 15 km.
It was one of the most beautiful and rewarding walks I have made and all the better for such good company.
It is strange to be sharing an albergue again after a couple of nights on our own. Coincidentally we are sharing a room with a French/German couple whom we met way back in Zamarramala just beyond Segovia. We haven’t seen them since, but when we walked into the shared room, Marilyn noticed that they had a torch that she had left in the convent albergue at Medina de Rioseco. They had picked it up and were very happy to reunite it with its rightful owner. What are the chances of that happening?
No shops in Pajares so we needed to book dinner at the village bar. Acceptable but not great. The albergue has 12 places, two loos, three showers, a sitting area, but absolutely no kitchen facilities, not even a sink! My water flasks don’t fit under the bathroom taps so there is no way to refill them here. Luckily there is a potable water fountain close by. 7 euros. As we were last in there was only one bottom bunk left. I graciously opted for the top bunk as Marilyn had taken one previously. At least there is a chair to aid my ascent!
Marilyn returned from the shared bathroom and commented on a guy parading in very brief underpants. I told her that we referred to them as ‘budgie smugglers’ which caused a certain amount of giggling. When said budgie smuggler walked into the bar we both fell about giggling in a very childish manner. What a way for a pair of grandmothers to behave!
Today’s distance 23.9 km
Accumulated uphill elevation 833 m
Accumulated downhill elevation 949 m
Total distance 472.3 km
Average per day 26.2 km