Saturday, September 09, 2023

Crossing the Pyrenees


Day 37 - Roncesvalle

     We survived the night with the help of ear wax.  We were hardly in our bunk beds when the snoring began.  In our 8 bed room there was a duet of maestros that produced a constant performance. In addition the hostel had very creaky floors, stairs and doors.  With all the nervous movements of beginning pilgrims and a loud air conditioner, the combination kept us from our needed sleep for the new day.  In a mad search in the dark, we secured our unused ear wax and finally got some needed sleep.

     We started earlier than we ever have before and walked an hour in the dark.  By dawn the scenery was breathtaking as we quickly ascended the slopes of the Pyrenees.  We were accompanied by a large company of pilgrims.  The hike was pretty intense, with 4000 ft. of elevation gain. We managed the challenge quite well, and chalked it up to our weeks of conditioning. Our 15 miles were either climbing or descending.

     We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery at every turn.  It was great weather, though a little windy. The open range featured endless flocks of sheep, cattle and horses , with no fences and lots of bells.  We both agree that it competes for our favorite day of scenery.

     Our friend Claire opted to sleep tonight in the mountain refuge on a ridge.  It is very harsh with cement slabs for beds.  But if someone can do it, it’s Claire.  We, however, are staying at a massive pilgrim hostel at the foot of the southern slopes.  It is a nice facility, able to handle 150 pilgrims.  It felt a little like an immigrant processing station as we waited an hour to get checked in.  We are bunking with a retired Ohio couple with whom we have a lot in common- a far cry from what we have been used to for the last month.  We have a late 8:30 sitting for dinner.

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