Among my first discoveries is that all my Camino materials – the guidebook and maps – were terribly mismarked. At least for the first couple of days anyway.
Rather than show the first official day’s hike from St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Roncesvalles, Spain as a 24km ascent over the ‘Pyrenees,’ it should have read the ‘Himalayas.’
But no self respecting hiker would have it any other way.
It is spectacular countryside. The Pyrenees are completely different than I imagined. Rolling green (really large, largely treeless hills) with a twisty, single lane asphalt road that accommodated both sporadic local traffic and many dozens of peregrinos. There are so many walkers you’re never out of sight of others strung out ahead of you in small groups.
But we finished in good order – a shade under five horas. There was muchos cervezas and vino tinto at the end, which eased some of the sting. Roncesvalles was fun, with lots of chatter among the weary pilgrims.
By contrast, today’s 24km jaunt to Urdaniz was a walk in the park. Sure, it was still up and down as bells clanged around the necks of sheep, cows and horses in distant hillside meadows. On occasion the Camino intersected with la calles in quaint small towns.
So tomorrow it’s on to Pamplona where Jane and Dave and I will have a ceremonial ‘goodbye’ meal (and vino) before they head for an Italian holiday. After that, it’s all on me, the solo hiker for another 30 days.