Mar 31. Day 5. 24.5 km. Depart 0820 hours, arrived 1600 hours.
No, we didn’t sleep in. Spain brought all the clocks forward on the last Sunday of March. Our bio-clock would say we started earlier than previous days!
Note the elevation change for today’s walk. This uphill walk is a gain of 296m, to the Sierras del Perdon (highest point for next 170 km). Yikes…that means another major uphill walk in less than a week’s time!
Today was an AWESOME Camino day.
We encountered three kind souls this morning. The first was a policewoman who had just completed her overnight shift and saw us in the apartment complex lobby trying to figure out how to get to a specific albergue to have our backpacks transported. After giving some directions, she went up to her apartment. We were still trying to get that albergue on my smartphone navigation, when the same woman re-appeared with her dog. She offered to walk to the end of the street to point out the route towards the cathedral. The second kind soul was an old man jogging near the cathedral. I approached him, and he led me to a parallel side street where the albergue was located! The third kind soul was a old gentleman walking his dog as we reached the outskirts of Pamplona. He didn’t just greet us ‘Buen Camino’ but he wanted to shake our hands and shoulders, and gave us a strong vocal exclamation in Spanish, which we took as a hearty send off. We reciprocated by offering a prayer for his health and his family.
Once we passed the University grounds, we could see the summit that we were aiming for. There was a host of wind turbines generating electricity from the easterly winds. Being a Sunday, there were lots of people, groups of friends, families with kids, couples, high school/college kids, bicyclists, joggers, dogs. This was open country, no forested trails.Having internalized the Tortoise and the Hare fable story meant we were not concerned when people passed us. We walk according to our drum beats.
Question: Are today’s children read the old classic fable stories of olde?
At the beginning. The summit is where we are walking to!
A panoramic view of the open countryside.
There was no vehicular traffic noise. There were no farm animals. It was just perfect. There were fields of yellow rapeseed plants, with fields of green grass, brown tilled earth, rolling hills. It was literally a feast for the eyes.
Stretches of yellow, green and rolling hills.
Pamplona in the distance, where we started off this morning!
A mountaintop experience powered by one’s legs is extra sweet.
About mid way up the mountain is a town called Zariquiegui. It took us about 3 hours to reach here. There’s a water tap to replenish one’s water bottle. There’s a cafe with a WC for customers. Their coffee and ham/cheese torta is great.
Pilgrim oriented statues at the Alto del Perdon, 756mSelfie at summit.
It wasn’t as cold and windy as it may look.
Heading down the other side of the mountain. This is probably harder for those with joint challenges due to the loose stones and sometimes, 10 inch height of steps!
If you carry trekking poles, today would be a great return on investment. The downhill stretch had much more loose stones and rocks.
We had a special stretch of time on the downhill stretch where we were the only two pilgrims in sight. It’s an amazing sense of wonderment to be the only two souls in that lovely landscape.
As we approached Uterga, there was a beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary and this inscription.
It was a hard day on our legs and bodies. Fortunately, our albergue was the first one as we approached Puente la Reina.We treated ourselves to a buffet dinner and breakfast at this albergue + hotel.
Dinner was really good at the hotel restaurant. Unlikely to get the same quality and price point outside.
Spiritual reflection of the day – Steady and persistent efforts over hours can yield incredible mountaintop experiences. What will steady and persistent efforts over weeks, months and years yield in one’s life?