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Published: October 24th 2015
30 September 2015, Wednesday. Stage 26. The high point of the Camino almost 5,000 feet above sea level
GPS: 16.87 miles, Almost 10 hours from beginning in Rabanal del Camino to end of day walking in Molinaseca with 6 hours 44 minutes actual moving time.
Fitbit: 18.07 miles, 41,366 steps and 145 stairs.
We left our lovely Nuestra Senior del Pilar Albergue, with a few private rooms, at 0806 this morning. We had a great salad last night for dinner after stuffing ourselves with the traditional Cocida Maragato dish with five or more meats, cabbage and garbanzo beans with soup and tapioca type pudding plus the obligatory bread. This we had hoped to eat in Astorga but found it only served for lunch because it is soooo much food. One order for two of us was still tooo much food. So a light dinner before early bed after a traditional pilgrims vespers in a church that is stone and looks like it is moving to the north slowly. I spend much of the Spanish portion of the ceremony thinking about the missing plaster and whether or not they were testing the 12th and 13th century stones for signs
of collapsing or not. The place was packed with more than 150 pilgrims filling all the choir and pews plus standing in the aisles.
The day is cool and sunny; beautiful walking weather. We learned from friends from Ireland, John and Mary Daly, whom we meet on the Camino, that this same stage had been terrible with rain and wind just two weeks before us. However, about ten days ago Nick and Margie traveled over the same route and it was lovely weather! So we are thankful for the good day. Rabanal is about 1100 meters above sea level. In the first five miles we climb another 400 meters to just below 1500 meters, the highest point on the entire Camino. Much different from St. Jean Pied de Port where that climb is more than 1000 meters and in a short 10 miles, this was a gradual climb in about 5 miles to the Iron Cross.
In the village of Foncebadon we met Diana and her husband from 250 miles west of Sidney, and Angelo and Johanna, from Orange County, CA who are completing a year of travel and have been in Boliva to the Salar de Uyuni
Long shadows shorten as we climb
It is now about 1045. Here sun overhead is around 1400 because of being on Western Europe time.
and climbed Kilamanjaro. They were totally distraught when they learned that contrary to the lyrics of a popular song you cannot see the sun rise over the Serenghetti from Kilamanjaro. In the albergue here we had the best coffee cake of the Camino.
At the Iron Cross we spent time looking at the small Ermita de Santiago, the sundial and the cross. After 3 attempts to get a photo of throwing our stones and Jo's we think we got one to send to her. This pile of rocks around the cross did not look at all like I expected or the photos. It seems most of the rocks have been removed and paths with lots of paper, photos and other junk clutter the area. (note from Karen--I have read they must, periodically, reduce the memorials around the cross. Personally, I think one person's junk might have been a treasure to the person who placed it there. Perhaps they were moved at the site and only had a scrap of paper and pencil to write a note or leave something else that might not fit our definition as a suitable tribute) But it is still a high point to have
There is a small caravan bar at the highest point a couple of kilometers further on the track. Like several before they had tables, chairs, umbrellas and a variety of things to eat and drink, plus the all important sello (stamp for the passport). If we have not mentioned before, one must get a minimum of two stamps in their passport per day showing they have traveled the entire Camino for the final certificate in Santiago. We enjoyed a tonica and finished our apple, cheese and sandwich before hitting the trail again.
Now we descend 1000 meters to Molinaseca on rocky, former mule trails that test your knees and your soles (souls?) with the rough terrain and constant down slope. Many people remark this was one of their most difficult days--and it was the descending, rather than the ascending that takes its toll. It is general Camino knowledge that if rain comes one finds the paved road as these rocks are deadly when wet.
There are three lovely medieval villages with nicely maintained stone buildings along the narrow (think barely wide enough for one small car) streets and second floor balconies with lots of blooming
The fence and Camino as we approach Cruz de Ferro
The 'Porto Irago' - the doorway through the mountain
flowers in pots and planters. About 4 PM we stopped for soup. Here we were saddened to overhear a conversation between another Australian lady who learned, by phone, a dear friend back home had had a severe ashma attack and died. Karen's library friend from Hawaii experienced a similar fate several years ago while playing tennis. Isn't life strange? Five minutes before this lady had been asking me about my soup and we exchanged pleasantries and then, in the stillness of the cafe patio, we were sharing her sad news. We spoke to her as we left.
About 5 minutes until six, after even more miles of down the hill on the rocks, we crossed the old Roman bridge into Molinaseca, a village of about 800 poeple. And at the far end of town found our hotel, Posada del Muriel. Tired and dusty and much warmer than 25 hours ago, we welcomed the deep tub and shower. It has been a long day of ups and downs and we are ready for dinner. After consulting with the hotel staff we stay in and have a good pilgrims menu dinner: soup, salad, hake, pork and vegetables and potatoes with wine
and water and an ice cream cake dessert. Did anyone ask if we are losing weight? NO!
Tot: 2.542s; Tpl: 0.093s; cc: 14; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0463s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 5;
; mem: 1.3mb