17.8 km / 11.1 miles
I needed a short day today and in retrospect, doing the long day yesterday set me up very well for today. Had I not added extra on yesterday, today would have felt like torture. Today had nearly 3000 feet of elevation gain, heading up over a mountain pass, but with the shorter overall distance, it was doable.
I left Pola De Allande a bit later than I have been normally leaving. I was tired and dragging. One of the “joys” of albergue life is accepting that not all pilgrims know to be quiet or limit turning on lights later in the evening in the sleeping area. Even though I was exhausted, the distractions kept me from getting to sleep as early as I wanted. Even though I got up at 6, I took my time getting ready this morning and didn’t leave town until 7:15 after getting a coke at the local bar.
Idyllic is probably the best word to describe my first two or three miles of walking this morning. A trail with a creek running along side it with some of the clearest water you’ve ever seen. The occasional cow pasture set among lush hillsides. I nearly had the place to myself, only briefly seeing five other pilgrims along that part of the walk. It was gradually leading uphill, but the bigger climb of the day was the next stage.
After leaving the ravine area, I started the climb. I took it very slow. It was nice knowing I had a reservation for today and with the shorter day I could take my time. Also knowing there would be no stops for water fountains, cafes or bars, I figured the less sweating I did, the better. I tried to revert back to my “rest step” days from climbing Mt. Rainier. Using that approach has helped me many times to conserve energy on a harder climb.
I didn’t stay long at the top of the hill because the wind and clouds kept it a bit colder up there. I also didn’t get much for a view until I started heading down the steep hill. When the clouds past, it was a fairly impressive view.
I would say after the first two thirds of today’s walk, it was no longer that exciting. Sure, it was green rolling hills and beautiful forest, but after what I’d seen in the morning, it just didn’t compare. But, there were cows!
So I told my mom when I called home for Mother’s Day that I probably talked more to cows than I did to people on the walk today. Luckily once I got to town I noticed faces I recognized. It’s a small enough town with only three options for food or drink, so I should be able to balance my people to cow conversation ratio before the day is done.
Right now I’m eating a quite large pilgrim’s meal at one of the albergues in town. It’s a three course meal, that could on a normal day probably feed three people. Since I’m going off a breakfast of a granola bar as my only meal of the day, I’m eating far more of this meal than I’d ever imagine I could.
Third course of the meal is dessert, but I’ll see if I can’t explain to host here that I don’t need dessert since I think I’m now officially full after the first two courses. It’s amazing how much you can eat when you burn an average of 4000 calories a day. If only I could get this kind of exercise on a regular basis!