The Shadows on the Hill of a Forgiveness

Stage 4: Pamplona to Puente la Reina

Official: 23.65 km // iPhone Step Count: 25.9 km

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Each morning provides a remarkably interesting chorus of sounds. A random assortment of iPhone alarms ring in the day. Moans and groans echo throughout the albergue as people stagger and squirm their way out of bed. Squirts of various lotions lather skin and joints. Bags wrestle with the exchange of clothes. Zippers pull and tug. Laces tied. Boots and walking sticks clack. Diverse languages shout their goodbyes.

The day begins. 

Restocked from Pamplona, the trail leads up another set of rolling hills and mountains. The city pavement pound the soles of our feet as we wind through the outskirts of town. With rocks and broken boulders lining every step, our feet get little reprieve from the hard pounding as we climb to the top.

With wind-turbines lining the spine of the mountain, we strive against the wind, over the arch and greeted by the shadows of past pilgrims at Alto del Perdón (Hill of Forgiveness).

For me, this sacred spot reminds me of the millions of pilgrims who have walked this journey for the past two centuries, and the billions more yet to travel. It is a reminder that we are not alone and that we forever have a responsibility to those who will come after.

We are not self-made people.

Each person is here on Earth because of countless others. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents connect us to generations that have past, but those also do not tell the complete story. The teachers who educated each of us. The doctors who have healed us through the years. The strangers who have offered us a smile of a difficult day. The friends who have laughed us in their lives. Every person, no mater how insignificant, casts a shadow in our lives and invites us into a broader fold of humanity.

Standing at the top of Alto del Perdón reminds me, and hopefully each pilgrim, that the lives we lead our not our own. Each shadow we pass leaves an indelible mark in the light of our lives. No matter if we are walking the Camino de Santiago or not, we have, and always will be “on the way.”

After climbing to the top of the mountain you head down the other side in a way that can only be described as a drunken wobble. Zig-zagging and hobbling from one side of the path to the other, we bolster our knees as we wind towards the bottom, careful to avoid an avalanche of rocks.

With wheat fields and red poppies lining the the country side the splendor the walk unfolds with each kilometer towards Puente la Reina.


  1. Bobby,
    I remember when you were there last time , there were people bicycling in the background. Hope your travels are as fulfilling as they have been in the past. Stay safe ❤️


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