I didn’t sleep well again last night. I was really tired but restless. I shared a room with 11 others including Hogni and five french ladies travelling together in a group. They are all lovely but they kind of exploded their gear everwhere and also closed all the windows and turned the heating up. I was hot and needed to go to the loo, but in the darkness I was afraid I would trip over all their stuff. So I lay there trying to convince myself I could sleep.
I was mighty relieved when the alarm sounded and I could get up. Rushing first to the loo and then just grabbing my stuff away from their mess, I found myself a quiet corner under the terrace to get ready… lovely cool fresh air! I really hope I didn’t leave anything behind!
I had coffee and toast with Maggie, one of the Australians I met yesterday and we decided to walk together to Roncesvalles; shall we say we’re both of a certain age and neither of us are ‘sportive’ as the french would say. But, we are both up for the challenge of today’s climb and felt that we could encourage each other when it got tough.
The climb seemed less steep today but it was cold, damp and windy and the road just went on and on and on and on and on. As we climbed higher so the weather got worse… cold and wet and eventually misty and foggy.
There are steep drops on the side of the path and it was with some trepidation that we stepped off the road onto a track that led us into thick fog… after reading the big huge sign that told us of the dangers of leaving the road! Really our visibility was very poor and there was a constant drizzle. I was mighty glad for Maggie’s company as there were no other pilgrims to be seen… I was also glad for the snow poles that we used as our markers.
Up and up we walked, counting down the distance and calculating how much higher we had to go. We climbed to 1400 metres (4500 feet in old money!) and by the time we got to the top it was freezing. Not just cold but bitterly cold. There was snow on the ground and fallen trees blocking our way. They looked like they may have come down in last night’s storm.
We stopped for lunch, a cheese bagette supplied by Orisson but to be honest we were just too cold to enjoy it and decided to forgo lunch and keep walking. We carried on and walked through sleet and snow and icy winds but it was still an amazing walk. And regardless of the cold and our heavy legs we marched our way across the border from France and into Spanish Navarra.
I shouted across to Maggie… look back and see how far we’ve come… and we both did… and we had walked an awfully long way!
The descents are always much worse and what goes up must go down… and for us there was wet sticky mud and a very steep descent through a beautiful forest. More fallen trees and obstacles blocked the path at times and inevitably I fell!!! luckily no harm done but my knees ache now.
We walked through winter and into spring and I was so happy to see the roof of the monestary at Roncesvalles. I was too afraid last time to tackle the mountain but today we did it; sooo glad I had Maggie with me!
As we walked across to the albergue, Maggie said that she had read somewhere that you are what you eat… but she didn’t remember eating a legend today… We giggled a lot because today I really feel like one!