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Published: October 19th 2016
Sorry Mr and Mrs K., it's not about you, not this time anyway.
I love walking with the poles and can't imagine it without them. Used properly, they help drive you up hills, lower you gently into valleys and get you going on good surfaces. They are a second pair of legs, and it's surprising how much of the load you're arms can take. Not many people use them properly, just placing them out in front and then walking past them. Still, they would help steady them I suppose.
Today we had breakfast at Triacastela , me, coffee and tortilla , John, coffee and a smoke, and away we went. A long steady climb out of the valley saw us at San XII before light, and Alto del Riocabo, the highest point, about 30 minutes later.
The views were stunning and soon we descended sharply, walking through ancient oak forests along paths lined with elder trees, on the roadside . At first I thought these paths were lined with river pebbles, but this was just an illusion caused by poor light. The 'stones' were tiny gold and mustard coloured autumn leaves carpeting the path; very easy on the
feet. There are Beware of the Bears signs scattered along the tracks but apparently they are harmless brown bears, easily frightened away. Just the same, if I'd been tapped on the shoulder by a hand with large fingernails, I'd have taken off !
As I headed downhill I was approaching a German guy I'd seen previously and he seemed in some pain. I asked if he was OK and he indicated he had shin problems. I offered him some Vitamin I but he didn't seem to know about ibuprufen and declined. He resurfaced ahead, after we stopped for coffee, and I convinced him to at least accept some paracetamol . He accepted, moved on, and as I passed him minutes later after putting my pack pack on, l looked across and he had a huge grin on his face. I think sometimes the help offered, and the sense that you are never alone here, can be a bigger lift than the painkillers themselves.
The paths for the rest of the day were up and down; across rocks on streams, set deep into mossy stone walls under a canopy on trees, and with a small section through Sarria, where
we stopped for lunch. I loved it. I had so many memories come back as I passed through villages, or simply went around a bend to reveal a landmark that placed me here 2 years ago.
We are now 3 kms past Sarria at our lovely albergue and should have a head start on the extra walkers who set out tomorrow to do the 100km Camino. To receive the Compostella, the Camino certificate , you must walk the last 100kms. We pass that mark tomorrow.
It's nearing the end and it's a hard thing for me to leave; I can already sense it, but at least we have Finisterre and Muxia to look forward to after Santiago . Dinner is here tonight; not bad, room and meal for €18 with a pool thrown in, if you're game.
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