Today was a big day. And a very long day. But the weather was great and the hiking was decent.
It was a big day because…
- I entered the last week of this adventure. I can’t believe that it’s almost at its end – it’s been a fantastic experience;
- I entered Galicia and left Leon y Castille, and that too is a big accomplishment; and
- The last distance marker post I saw said that we have under 140 km to go… I passed the 160 km (“100 mile”) mark
I got a later than usual start today – 8:45 – because breakfast isn’t served until after 8 AM. I need to have breakfast before starting a long hike…. Others are different, my friends from Nashville usually start before 7 AM and walk a couple of km before getting coffee and breakfast. So they had a 2 hour jump on me today. It’s ok, it’s their Camino and it’s my Camino.
Being in Herrerias seemed almost like I was transported to Switzerland. There were cows everywhere and most of them had bells on, clanging away as they moooved. It’s much like the country in Switzerland where that is common. And when I say “everywhere” I mean it. As I walked out the front door of the hotel there were cows grazing in a field literally across the street and within 3 feet of the road. But the electric fences do their job well.
The rain of yesterday gave way to beautiful skies today with a few puffy clouds. The temperature was comfortable most of the day – I wore my jacket for about the first 45 minutes and then took it off. Just a slight breeze made things comfortable. Heck, at dinner tonight they were still reporting 22 C as the temperature.
Today’s hike was a fairly long one – 27 km – with the first part being a steep uphill climb of 700 meters up in about 7 km of distance. We walked along the road for the first kilometer or so, then took forest paths that are a lot nicer and easier on the feet. However, the rain yesterday left them muddy in places and I had to dodge a few road apples.
I stopped at the second town – after a 550 meter climb – and as I was sitting there I saw a few horses come by and one of the women riding them called me by name. It was my new friend from Mesa that I walked with only a couple of days ago along with her Scandinavian friend. They had hired horses to ride for the uphill part of the path. And they said they enjoyed it a lot. I caught up with then at O Cebriero where they had ended their ride and I had reached the top of the climb. I took a break and decided it was time for an (early) lunch.
They went on, and I left shortly afterward. But I didn’t see them again today even though they are supposedly staying in the same town tonight.
At the crest of the second peak is a Pilgrim statue and I saw my friend from Germany there. We laughed a bit and he took another selfie as he’s been doing as we run across each other. Turns out he was also doing a bit of geocaching (apparently it’s still a thing) in a few spots along the Camino.
The number of hikers seems to have picked up a bit and some of the towns are much more touristy. For example, there were tour buses at O Cebreiro and a couple of tourist gift shops. I mind it less in a town like this but did mind it at the famous cross a couple of days back.
It will pick up even more tomorrow as we pass through Sarria, which is a starting point for many pilgrims that want to do just the minimum to get by. Also starting tomorrow I’ll have to get two stamps per day in the Pilgrim Credential.
I’m in Triacastela tonight at a little inn/hotel. It’s “interesting” inside but will do for the night. They didn’t serve dinner so I walked up the street and ate at busy bar/restaurant that served dinner “anytime”, which is really nice as I was quite hungry. My friends from Nashville arrived independently and took the table next to me about 10 minutes after I sat down. We had a bit of conversation but focused on our dinner…. and watched a group of horses and riders parade down the street.
And I was done and back in the hotel by 7:45, which was nice. The hotel serves breakfast starting at 7, so I’ll be able to get out a bit earlier tomorrow. And it’s quiet here so I’ll get a decent sleep.
Tomorrow the walk will take us to Sarria and beyond. Based on other comments, Sarria is crowded and even more touristy, so we’ve booked rooms in Barbadelo, which is the next town beyond. It’s supposed to be less touristy. There are about 3 different distances depending on the source, but I expect it to be under 24 km, more likely 22. That will mean we will hit the 100 km to go mark on Tuesday.
I also heard that the friend of a friend is also walking the Camino and started from St.Jean the same time as I. I don’t recall meeting her (I don’t recognize the name) and she is now about 4 days behind. I wish her a Buen Camino!
And I understand that another member of the group of 7 has plowed ahead and plans to finish a day ahead of us. We plan to meet him in Santiago to celebrate.
I plan to turn in early and get a good nights sleep. It’s been a long day – 700 meters up, then 700 down. At least the down was easier today than the other day.