-“Describing an experience that makes you fearful yet fascinated. awed yet attracted – the powerful, personal experience of being overwhelmed and inspired.”

September 2nd

It was officially decided to take the route through Valcarlos this AM. which is good because it has been challenging on the inclines and I’ve been motivating myself thinking of how hard it would have been if I took the Napolean route.

I started the day with Melony from Australia but parted ways soon after as her pace was faster than mine. I promised myself a sitting break ever two hours and a resting break whenever I feel like it. sometimes it feels like iv only went a few steps before I need a break, especially on inclines.

when crossing into Spain I passed a compost(?) yard which smelt so bad it made me involuntarily gag the whole way through. the route has primarily followed the road with many ups and downs and thankfully some flats. sadly for every down (which is just as hard), it means we will be shortly climbing just as far, if not farther back up).

I’m currently in Valcarlos which is the halfway point it is now noon so I am 4 hours in. the guidebook says 12 km more to Roncesvalles and I am determined to make it!

…and the optimism went downhill from there. not long after I met two mini horses (not quite ponies) on the ride of the road before diverting off road to a lovely wooded path maintained by a father and daughter(?). that was short lived and I met up with the road again after a bunch of switchbacks I possibly misread the map and I was convinced I was lost. and I had not sat since Valcarlos a few hours ago so I sat on the side of the road told my mom all about my day and situation and how I was certain I’d missed a turn and was stuck following the road much further than anticipated.

After 1/2 hour delay, I started walking and found the sign to the path I thought I’d missed. and then it got VERY hard. All wooded path with very rocky and sometimes washed out walkway so what should have been only a few hours took longer than the entire morning and the predicted walk time (double) it felt like the entire 990m elevation for the day happened in the km.

I also ran out of water before the second consecutive wooded stretch so I busted out the jolly ranchers. I finally reach the top at Ibaneta with Charlemagne’s church. if it were earlier and not as cold I would have attempted to explore but I was so excited for finally walking downhill that I just took off. I was also motivated by the fact some hikers were coming down off the napoleon route and since it was already 7 I wanted to make sure I had a bed.

my room is in which I can only determine is a shipping container. my bunkmates are not so awesome. my phone and pod died after getting here and since there are only two plugs for 8 people I unplugged a camera charger (i intended to replug it) hoping mine will charge before they return. hopefully, it is a long dinner. The washroom is dismal with absolutely no room so they expect you to change in public. its very cold outside tonight

It’s very cold outside tonight so I am nervous about tomorrow morning. I must remember to take more breaks tomorrow but I think it’s primarily downhill (must check). I plan to get to Zubiri to finish the next stage. the two routes have merged so there will be more people but also fewer Refugio beds so a bit nervous about taking my time again (not that I could have gone faster today) maybe some will go to the next time like the book suggests. iv figured some things to send home as my bag was unnecessarily heavy. Definitely, the protein bars I had absolutely no desire to eat anything today other than my apple. hopefully, the post office is open/available tomorrow. If not Pamplona the day after. first aid is also rather heavy but can’t risk it.

“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it” – Charles Dudley Warner

Yesterday Tomorrow


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