|Dawn, Alison, Jackie and a new friend outside the albergue|
at Orisson, about 10 kms up the pass with the only
services between St. Jean and Roncesvalles.
But by 7:00 it was clear we could lay in bed no longer. Someone turned on the bunk room lights and our sleepy-eyed Seattle group was up and out of bed. To the bathroom for the brushing of teeth, to the packs for the stuffing of clothes and toiletries, to the dining table for the eating of toast and jam, to the entryway for the tying of bootlaces, and out to the cobblestones of the long, medieval, main street of St. Jean Pied-de-Port for the walking of a pilgrimage.
There we were, the Twelve. Alphabetically: Alison, Bart, Catherine, Dana, Dawn, Elissa, Greta, Jackie, John, Lisa, and Susan -- and I. The Twelve Apostles? The Twelve Disciples? The Twelve Horsemen of the Apocalypse? The Dirty Dozen? By whatever name we shall be called we twelve set our faces to the high peaks ahead.
|Pilgrims often leave flowers at the statue of Virgin Mary|
at Col Lepoeder, near the summit of today's hike across
the Pyrenees from St. Jean to Roncesvalles.
Some people will say, "Ah, please, the way down is much easier than the way up." Our group will testify that some people are wrong. Climbing 3900 feet is a cardio exercise. Descending 1640 feet is a musculo-skeletal exercise, an exercise of feet and knees and hips, of quads and calves and hamstrings. The downhill slope is steep enough that caution is important. No running or even quick walking or a skinned knee or bruised tailbone or muscle pull or most anything could happen.
How was the walk? Long. In truth, the way up is not Seattle steep, not like a Dravus Street, just a relentless climb, much of it paved, with some walking on dirt track. To get a sense of the journey, imagine a Mt. Si hike (a 3100 ft elevation gain in 4 miles) with another 20% elevation tacked on, blessedly stretched out over two and a half times the distance. In local terms it's steep, but not scary steep like climbing one of our mountains. I think flat landers don't really understand that in Seattle we know mountains when we see them, and these are very big hills. In fact, I'd have to say that hiking up Mt. Si would be a good training test for anyone who'd want to do the Camino's first day over the Pyrenees. If you can do Mt. Si you've got this one licked.
Try as we might, today did bring its mishaps. Not a bad list, but a list of owies and ailments nevertheless:
- Alison -- Broken bootlace. A surprisingly unlucky event, with the nearest new lace over 50 kms away;
- Bart -- Was first up the hill. What's with that? Now he shall suffer our envy;
- Catherine -- The constant attention of Italian male pilgrims. 'Nuf said;
- Dana -- Blisters on the balls of the feet;
- Dawn -- Caught in the quick rain squall without her pack cover, now drying everything on her bunk. Until today I'd never seen pink hiking socks.
- Elissa -- Second up the hill. All that running really pays off;
- Greta -- Blisters between each of her toes;
- Jackie -- Broke a fingernail. Seriously;
- John -- Blisters on the ankle;
- Lisa -- Blisters on the heel;
- Susan -- Blisters on the hands -- from hiking poles!
|After a long, hilly walk it's nice to have a medieval|
monastery to sleep in. Here: the Monastery at
Roncesvalles, Spain, our first overnight on the Camino.
(Today's progress is based on a combined total of 21 exercise miles posted by cyber pilgrims as of Jan 30, 2011)