Castrojeriz to Fromista
25 kilometers – Long, long kilometers – 15 hot miles.
More Meseta. More sun. More agony.
Today was a long day—like backpacking on the moon after climbing up to touch it.
The Walk Up
We left Hotel Emebed Posada in Castrojeriz at 8 am. The sky was clear. The air already warm.
It was a sign of what to expect this day.
Within three kilometers of leaving Castrojeriz, we undaunted Pilgrims face the dramatic climb to a high plateau, which overlooks the village. It is a dramatic climb. The entire route is in sight as the climb begins, and ends nearly 450 feet higher after only approximately 800 yards.
We are in much better physical shape than we were ten days ago, but this is a tough climb. It’s a real workout for every Pilgrim.
Not nearly as long a climb as that to the Alto del Pardon, but this climb got in Jim’s head. He didn’t admit it to Jackie, though, until this climb was finished.
Jim – I was alright for the first two-thirds of the way. We were in better shape and Jackie was doing great. But suddenly, I had a terrible anxiety attack and instantly wondered what would happen if I just decided I couldn’t make it. I didn’t know whether they would send a helicopter, or if I would have to climb on my hands and knees, or just curl up in the fetal position.
I said a prayer and asked for some strength. I stopped looking up or down and just looked at my footsteps. Eventually, slowly, we made it to the top. I didn’t tell Jackie until it was done. I was petrified.
At The Top
At the top of the plateau, a young man was selling drinks of water and soda, and some fruit. Jim admitted that he had been very anxious and was so glad to be at the top.
When his breathing and hear rate settled to near human norms, Jim left the stone for his son, Jeff near the top of the climb on a small mountain of stones at a memorial left by pilgrims. That position overlooks Castrojeriz.
And Back Down
In Camino de Santiago style, what goes up, must go down, and sure enough, after another kilometer, this road dropped quickly to the lower plateau level.
We didn’t witness bikers making the descent, but wondered how they could have done it. It dropped way to fast to walk comfortably. It is a nasty descent.
The Balance of the Walk
It really was another “keep your camera stored” kind of walk.
Field after field. Very little shade, and small, unimpressive villages.
We did pass an ancient Pilgrim’s hospital, and eventually the 11-arched Puente de Itero bridge.
The far side of that bridge marked the start of the Kingdom of Leon.
We finished our walk in the town of Fromista, which has barely more than 1,000 residents, but two national monuments, the first is the 11th century Iglesia de San Martin de tours church, built originally as part of a Benedictine monastery.
The other national monument is that of the Iglesia Santa Maria del Castillo.
San Martin as been de-consecrated, and Santa Maria appears to need repairs.
There is a third Catholic church in town that is used by the parish for normal functions.
It is a farming town, with tractors passing on the main streets. There are a number of restaurants and bars—with a strong emphasis on the Pilgrim trade.
We did a little supermercado shopping tonight for dinner and stayed in.
The pilgrim meals and “meals dia day” have both of our stomachs in knots.
We have a beautiful room atop the Hotel Dona Mayor, and are hoping to beat the sun tomorrow.
Until then, Buen Camino!!