St Jean Pied de Port to Roncevalles, What Could Go Wrong?

Spain's flag
Europe » Spain » Navarre » Roncesvalles
September 20th 2018
Published: September 20th 2018
Edit Blog Post

Just a couple of questions first. Is it bad luck if your glasses fall off your head into a communal toilet? Any suggestions on the best way to clean E.coli germs from a pair of multifocals? I wore my sunglasses all day today.

If I ever decide to walk across the Pyrenees Mountains again, remind me that today was the most physically demanding day of my life and I never want to repeat it. I won’t be writing much today because my keyboard finger hurts, as does everywhere else. Also I have a pair of glasses to clean.

The morning began with fresh croissants and coffee ( sounds good so far) and I walked out of the albergue alone at 7am. Already I’m a better person; no rush, no alarm set. I knew the pack was heavy but I felt confident.

The climb to Orisson is 600 metres over 8 kilometres. Drawer a graph of that and you can predict the morning. The climb to Roncevalles is actually just as bad but I had wiped it from my memory; otherwise I would never have attempted it. I made it, no worries, but my hips and the muscles on my neck are no longer my friend. The downhill section was painful and my knees joined the Mutual Hate Society with the neck and hips.

Arriving in Roncevalles, all that remains to be said is, Thank God this day is behind me. About 7 kilometres up the Pyrenees I encountered a straggler, or more to the point, a struggler. Anne Marie, a distraught German about 25 years of age, was propped up against her backpack in a ditch on the high side of the track. She was sad, had obviously been crying, and I thought she had hurt herself.

No, no injuries, but rather she was suffering from the firm belief that she was crazy to think she could walk the Camino, and that she was seeing a dream melt before her eyes. She was ready to turn back.

I tried to reassure her with self deprecating references to my age vs her age, that she was maybe carrying too much gear ( unless there was a friend in the bushes that I had not seen), and that there was a welcoming panoramic waterhole in the form of an albergue about 1 kilometre further on. I told
Orisson Orisson Orisson

The first place to have a break after walking up steep hills for3 hours
her I’d walk there with her, and if she still wanted to leave she could book a taxi from there.

To be honest, I can’t be sure of her name , as the blend of her accent and my hearing only has me thinking her name is Anne Marie, and I will avoid using it and will certainly not be introducing her to anyone. At home, often after bumping into someone and chatting without introducing my wife, at the end of the chat my wife always states the obvious. “ You couldn’t remember their name, could you? “ No.

Doubts are occasional companions on the Camino and start at home before you even board a plane. I have had reservations about this trip, partly because of the timing but mostly due to the fact I have walked it twice before. I receive plenty of unsolicited advice and opinions on why another route would be more interesting, but I like the Camino Francés and it is always different due to the different people and many options of where to stay. There are sound reasons for having another go at it, totally solo, and the unconditional support I receive is validation enough for me. Barring accidents, I’m confident I can complete it and I just figure that one day I probably won’t be able to, so here we go. Let’s get back to What’s Her Name.

I’m definitely not caving in on my ‘solo’ commitment but if I can encourage WHN to stick at it for a couple of days, she will be sold on the idea of finishing. I once read that you should never make any rash decisions about quitting in the first week, as this is the settling in period; the time when self doubts and pain combine to nibble away at your resolve. It’s good solid advice.

WHN arrived in Roncevalles and is keen to go on.Her problems were relationship problems, not Camino problems. The Camino might solve all her worries.

Well, I’m due to go to dinner. Tomorrow is a new day and an easier one. It will only be about 21°c so that’s a huge improvement on today. Enjoy the pics and I’ll check in tomorrow.

Sorry, poor internet, only 3 pics. Took 30 minutes to load.


21st September 2018

Loving your writing as much as the travel info! Keep safe.
21st September 2018

Thanks for that.
Don’t rely too much on the info though.
21st September 2018

This is a great idea Steve. Every trip is different. The people you meet. The places you stay. More importantly, I think, is that you love it. How fulfiling. And you have now become a mentoring angel as well.
22nd September 2018

Thanks Sue
I’m just doing it my way this time and if I want a break or need to bus it I will. That’s a big personal change, believe me

Tot: 1.082s; Tpl: 0.091s; cc: 16; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0173s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb