|Courtyard of the Cizur Menor albergue outside Pamplona|
When the morning came we looked forward to a reunion with the other half of our group, but as we walked out the albergue to greet the day we found a handwritten note tacked to the door: "Sleepers Awake! The Camino calls! Watch for our notes along the way, Ye Lazy Ones!", followed by the signatures of Alison, Bart, Catherine, Dawn, Jackie, and Lisa. So . . . this pastor was resigned to begin his day with half his flock.
|Alto del Perdon's iconic iron sculpture|
The downhill stretch ended in just a few kilometers and ahead of us stood a high ridge, populated by windmills and cut by a single, dirt track up its 1200 foot face -- the Alto del Perdon. The path across the Pyrenees was a long, slow trudge at a 5-6% grade, but the Alto del Perdon is like walking up a stairway of loose gravel and sharp rocks. Thankfully, we were making the climb on a cool morning, but even so we were drenched in sweat by the summit. Greeting us there, who should we see? Our long lost friends? Not.
What we saw was one of the true landmarks of the modern Camino: the sculpture of medieval pilgrims, heading west, bracing themselves against the wind and the challenges ahead. We couldn't help but think of our own nearby Wild Horse Monument that uses the same, iron medium. From the height we could look back toward the mountains we'd already crossed and ahead to the vineyard-clothed valleys of western Navarre and La Rioja.
|12th century Knights Templar chapel at Eunate|
|Puente la Reina and its "Queen's Bridge" built for|
medieval pilgrims to cross our beloved Rio Arga