Day 1. St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles. 25.1 km,with the elevation factor (peaking at 1450m) the distance is more realistically 32km.
When you’re walking up a mountain, several thoughts come to mind, here are just a few:
- Man, that’s a pretty tall mountain ahead.
- Oh this is nice, look at how pretty everything is from up here.
- Are you kidding me?! This incline is at least 89°.
- Oh yes, I’ve reached the top! Oh wait, what, how the fuck can it still be going up!!??
- Oh God my legs!
- Where is that pain coming from? Are there even muscles there?!
- I had to pee, but I’m almost certain I’ve sweat it out.
- Oh look at that! It’s so pretty, we are literally walking in clouds.
- Now we’re at the top! … Oh wait! God no! Why?! How can this damn thing go any higher!?
- Why is that person not carrying a pack??!! You mean some people send their bag to the next stop??!! I hate them.
- Oh look at how prett…no don’t look, just walk!
- Why does it feel like I’m swimming? This cloud is so wet.
- My feet hate me right now.
- Down hill, Yes!
- Down hill, no! Ouch my knees.
That all being said, this has been incredible. Even though it’s been wet and foggy, with a high in the 70s (it feel like I’m walking through air conditioning) the opportunity for communal solitude has been incredible. The Camino is busy this time of year. To give you a reference, I’m currently staying in a town with several albergues (hostels) this one holds at least 184 and had the potential of selling out tonight. As you walk, you find yourself is periods of sacred solitude as you strive forward through the difficult legs of the trail, and other times find yourself surrounded in conversations from people all over the world.
We move together as a herd, one following the others along the communal path. As one picks a turn, others turn as well, it’s easier that way, unless one discovers a brief cut I the path few divert. The sounds of our steps cascade through the valley and the crunch of feet move intone with the orchestra of birds, sheep, horse, trees and brooks. Our song is that of the Camino, a way that moves within and outside of us.
Bodies ache, stomachs growl, minds race. Even in the moments of silence we each hold unique conversations. The Camino has strange ways to speak with each person.
The hardest day is behind us. The journey from here is much easier. Trial by fire they say. Buen Camino!
More pictures to come when I find better wifi.