Photography, Travel

El Camino Day 2

After a pleasant stay in Valcarlos we prepared ourselves for a hard days walk. It was all uphill to our next destination, Roncesvalles. Valcarlos was hospitable enough with a restaurant for us to buy dinner and have a beer. The hotel was comfortable too which was decked out with a small kitchen and dining area. We did get a bit ambitious earlier thinking we could buy some ingredients to cook for ourselves but figured that by the time we bought everything we may as well go to the restaurant. Besides who could be stuffed cooking after a days walk. Last night I was awake at 2am for a couple of hours due to the jet lag. I decided to get out of bed and check in with work and go through some emails. Unfortunately I’ll be doing some work on this trip. One of the downsides of owning a business is you’re never really free from it or able to switch off from it.

This image shows the gradient of the walk. The solid black line is the Napoleon way and the dotted line is the route we’ve taken as the other is closed for the winter season. After todays walk we were okay having the Napoleon way closed as we found it tough going particularly with the rain but also with the jet lag. As you can see above from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles it’s uphill all the way baby. Just over 600 metres of climbing.

Rain was forecast today so bags were covered and our gore-tex jackets were on. My jacket seems to be coming apart a bit on one of the internal seams. It is 15 years after all. Perhaps I should have upgraded before I left Sydney. I think I’ll be okay though.

After a breakfast of bacon and eggs washed down with a couple of cafe americanos we started the days walk.

The clouds were gathering and the rain was starting. It rained for the whole walk today but not heavily. It was a light drizzle which didn’t seem to bother me too much. It wasn’t cold either which helped too. As we were going uphill we got quite warm as the temperature was around 14ºC for the day and you work up a sweat. All I had on was a merino t-shirt a pair of shorts and my gore-tex jacket.

We followed the road for sometime and thankfully we didn’t meet our taxi driver doing full throttle towards us with a new set of pilgrims on their way to Saint Jean. As you can see in the image above there is no path to walk on so it was on the road only. Traffic wasn’t heavy thankfully with only a few cars and trucks passing us by.

Eventually we were directed off to a side road
France is to the left of us as we follow the border

The feet seem to be doing okay at this stage of the walk and not at all like last time when I felt like I wouldn’t be able to walk again. Admittedly we aren’t doing the kilometres yet. This time round we’re not going to do anything over 30kms per day as that seems to take its toll on the body.

The walk was fairly easy at this stage. Any gradient we were climbing was gradual so it was comfortable enough. From now on it was a bush track with the path single file only.

Following the stream for a little while
Stream crossing
Plenty of moss about

The rain was just a drizzle at this stage of the walk. It seemed to be holding back for us. I was okay with the drizzle. Anything heavier and I would’ve started having issues.

We can finally see the summit
We made it to the summit and this is looking back from where we came

At this stage we could see the clouds closing in on us fast. The rain was starting to get heavier and the temperature was dropping too.

A chapel at the summit, closed of course

The rain well and truly set in at this point and it was the heaviest for the day. We were downhill from here but had to keep moving as the temperature really dropped.

A good days walk with its challenges particularly with the rain and the cold at the end. We made it though and it was nice to get inside the hotel where it was warm and to get out of the wet gear. I think that tomorrow’s forecast is for much of the same kind of weather although it’s all downhill from here till we reach Pamplona in a couple of days.

This post has been frustrating to write because of the lousy internet. It’s taken so long to upload images with more often than not the upload failing. It’s made the writing difficult as well.

For maps and stats of today’s walk you’ll find them here.

Anyway that’s it for the day. Thanks for reading.

Roncesvalles, our home for the night