26.8 kilometers – Nearly 17 miles
Today was the perfect metaphor for the Camino.
We started estatic with a huge blessing from our first Camino Angel, Alfonso. We ended the day exhausted and down.
Alfonso was working at the front desk of our hotel this morning.
When we reached the hotel restaurant in the morning, Jackie noticed that there were many pilgrim’s backpacks setting by the front desk.
She asked our Sidney friends, Anne and Carolyn, what this represented, and learned that many pilgrim’s took small day packs each day on their walks, and had the bulk of their supplies forwarded to their next planned stop.
We knew where we were staying tonight, and we knew we had to lighten Jackie’s load.
Then Alfonso stepped in.
“Do we need reservations?” We asked.
“No problem,” he said with a flourish. “I will make sure they take your pack.”
There were tears in both of our eyes as he assured us that we had plenty of time to go back to our room and consolidate the heavier items into Jackie’s pack for the transport, and Jim would then carry a lighter load than he had the day before. Jackie carried a lighter day pack.
Thank God for Alfonso.
Without his help, we would still be on the road.
Today’s walk was the hardest so far.
It was unbearably hot, and it seemed that the pilgrims loved to develop the trail up sharp hills. We were uphill nearly all day in 90 degree heat.
Needless to say, we are exhausted tonight.
In fact, upon arriving at the small town only five kilometers before our goal, we gave in for the day and asked the bar proprietor to call a taxi. We road the last couple miles into Estella. I’m not sure we could have walked it.
Jackie was suffering from near heat exhaustion and Jim could only manage 20 steps at a time on the last ascent that we made.
But, we are here. We are proud of our accomplishment, but we are humbled. The Camino kicked our butts today.
The photos above show several cool things that we experienced today.
Those three photos relate to:
Puente la Reina Bridge – The Queen’s Bridge
Here is the story on the bridge, which we crossed first thing today:
The Eleventh Century bridge was financed by the region’s queen.
Pilgrims apparently had a terrible time passing the deep river located here. They were being required to pay large amounts to locals, who would carry the pilgrims over the river on their small boats and rafts.
The queen was not happy with the practice, and upon construction of the bridge (now nearly 1,000 years old), the extortion ended and the beautiful town of Puente La Reina appeared.
Puente la Reina literally is Spanish for “Bridge of the Queen.”
(Above) These are snails–which we passed about two kilometers into our walk. They were massed on the stems of the weeds.
(Above) Crosses made of twigs, woven into the fence alongside the pilgrim’s path after the nastiest climb so far.
(Above) The Pilgrims’ water fountain, which we used to fill our bottles as we entered Manera, six kilometers into today’s walk.
(Above) The happy hikers with Cirauqui in the background. (It looked closer than it was.)
(Above) Entering Cirauqui.
(Above) Jim, happy to have finished another tough climb.
(Above) Just your everyday hand built ancient tunnel.
(Above) Amazing iron work on the balconies of Estella.
Other Fun Stuff
This is hard and wonderful. It only depends on the moment. In a few days, we will have a day of rest and hope to do several entries with photos showing some of the art created along the path by Pilgrim’s. We also have seen some of the coolest doors ever, and hope to do an entry to share the beauty of those doors.
Meanwhile, tonight we are staying in a former monastery, across the street from a 13th century cathedral in Estella. We wanted to explore the cathedral, but eventually decided against it when we realized how many steps we would have to climb.
Last night, in Puente la Reina, we stayed in a restored fort from the 12th century. We stayed in the low ceilinged attic.
Both hotels were amazing.
Tomorrow’s goal is Los Arcos. We will both take day packs tomorrow, hoping to eventually get in the shape required for lugging all our clothing and equipment for these long days.