Sep 222009

about 17k

Up another 2100 feet today (I was wrong, we did 2000 ft yesterday) to a 4600 ft pass – Col de Lepoeder. In addition to the thousands of pilgrims that have passed this way, this is the route Napoleon used to invade Spain. Ditto Charlemagne. In fact his nephew Roland (of “Chanson de Roland” fame) died here. Once again the entire way was very foggy. It created an intimate, private, somewhat mystical atmosphere. Bells of invisible sheep. Mostly through invisible fields, but also through a couple of gorgeous old forests. The sort of walking I enjoy most. We commented a couple of times on the magnificent views we were missing, but the fog is in itself wonderful (like storms at Pacific Beach.)

Very peaceful, relaxing in spite of the up, up that you couldn’t see either. After the intensity of meeting so many new people it was very grounding. At one point the fog was so thick and the path so slick that Tony,  Michelle & I stuck together to make sure we did not get lost in the fog, or slip down some very steep slopes on the very muddy path. Out of nowhere our guardian angel Michel (who has done this route at least 8 times) appeared to keep us on our way. You could barely see ten feet. Except for the mud the trail was not difficult. John, Isabel and Trudy will be very happy to know I’m using the walking sticks and they are great.

Feet, knees ok, back not bad, but taking off my heavy pack was a highlight of the day. Tony said he’d found someone who would take his extra stuff to Pamplona and hold it until he could get it and post it to Santiago – then offered me a sack for my extra stuff so I could also lighten my load. I jumped at the chance.

Wonderful to see persons from the stay in Orisson last night or those met on the road. Even those I only know by sight. Stopped and sat a while in the very old monastery church. Lovely windows but pretty simple. Just read in my guide book where they have a pilgrims’ mass there at 8:00 each night where they read the names of those starting the camino. A sort of bookend to the mass in Santiago where they tell the number of pilgrims from each country completing the walk. I think I need to start reading this book in the morning instead of in bed at the end of the day! I would have liked to have gone.

Today’s pilgrims’ meal; pasta, french fries, and delicious fresh trout. Yogurt dessert.
The hostel tonight has beds for 100, all in one big long room. Normally it doesn’t open until later in the afternoon, but because everyone was so wet and muddy they let us in to clean up and take a warm shower (felt fantastic). Huge long line of clothes drying on the line outside.

Upon entering the alberge a large poster outlines some basic rules. Shelve your shoes at the door (wisely no boots in buildings.) Backpack and sticks under bed – never on the  bed. Door closes, lights out at 10:00. Up at 6:00. Out by 7:30.
I have photos, but am having upload problems. The computers are locked inside cases (presumably to prevent us from accidently trashing them). As a result you have no access to the usb. Hopefully I’ll find and internet cafe when I get to Pamplona on Thursday, and upload photos then. Did check my email, and was delighted to hear from my niece Kali who has just headed off for six months of college in the Dominican Republic.

Once again I am also composing this on the Nokia, when I get access to a big screen I try to clean up the typos I’ve missed. Sorry!

22 Sep 2009

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