03 Hurtin’…..Yes Indeed!

Mix together a lack of preparation, add a dose of age; then drive yourself over the Pyrenees. What do you get?

Answer: a lot of hurting parts.

Last night in Roncesvalles I signed up for a Pilgrim meal in Hotel Roncesvalles. The meal was very good, but I had little appetite. I feel like Jet lag is hanging over me like the sword of Dameclese. One small thing will cause my systems to collapse. (OK, this might be a bit dramatic)

Finally went to my bed area just around 8:45pm and discovered the Korean ladies were also getting ready to hit the sheets. I was to discover these were the same ladies and Orisson, and more specifically, the one woman was the Olympic gold medal snoring champion of Korea. And she is sleeping 4 feet from me again.

Yup, a pretty poor night once again. But in all fairness my jet lag is probably just as much to blame. On the other hand I may be somewhat generous,

Today has some physical challenges in store. After leaving Roncesvalles the path is mostly country side, complimented with drop dead beautiful scenery. Unfortunately the steep climbs and descents have not been forgotten. Generally this day will be on the descent, but some of the climbs rival the Pyrenees. Maybe not as long….but just as demanding.

On the other hand, I have learned by very, very recent experience. At points when climbing steep ascents I can only take 50 steps and I have to stop. Apparenly the tympani section of the Toronto Phiharmonic is practicing the 1812 Overture in my ears. Basically my heart is pounding! I really thinking the meager breakfast of a piece of bread and jam wasn’t enough to fuel today’s requirements once again.

The day is spend in absolute solitude as it was the days before. I see people but talk to no one. Who would want to talk to someone sucking up all the available oxygen in a 300ft radius anyways.

The day is spend pealing off some of the altitude gained over the past couple of days, interspersed with some steep inclines. I may have mentioned this before, but it’s the downhill portions that provide the real pain. I am being so careful not to slip….and it still happens. The muddy path is strewn with rocks, some loose, some attached to the earth’s core. Thankfully no spills so far.

My right knee and hip are of some concern, and start screaming the moment I am walking up, or down. I have to say I still have my previous form when walking on the flats. Problem is there really are not flats for a couple of weeks.

One thing missing from the experience 4 years ago is the smell of manure. Four years ago the farmers had spread their furtilizer on the fields at the end of the season. When this is spread the air is rich with a mix of ammonia and methane. Just the sort of mix you would like when you are fighting for air. For now the air is clear and clean, void of any smells.

Back to today.

For the most part we (that is the royal we) walked under a tree canopy. Absolutely stunning views over valleys and the reminants of the Pyrenees. The temperature today is expected to be 12c. (That’s 54F for Susan, Mary, and others challenged by “c”)

It was difficult to decide what to wear so I decided it is better to be warm than cold. I was warm alright….I was sweating any time we started climbing the hills, or were in the sun. I was then concerned to shed my jacket for fear of freezing. At one point there appeared to be a long stretch of sunshine, and I thought this is the right time to down grade.

Finally I came into Zubiri, a small town to say the least. I remembered my cousin Doug’s visit to Zubiri last year. He had stayed in a private Albergue called Suseia. This Albergue is run by a young couple, and it rivals bigger hotels for the quality of service.

The bunks were new, the bathrooms were exception. Glass walls, very modern, and well taken care of. They even provide real towels for showering. This certainly beats the little micro fibre cloth thingy I am using. It’s only a foot square. The regulation size towel is a treat.

Down in the lounge they have  8 or 9 oversized leather motorized recliners. I tested one for about 3 hours with my feet up. What a wonderful idea.

At dinner time we had a sit-down meal consisting of:

Course 1: vegetable stew

course  2: a large mixed salad with honey & olive oil dressing

course 3:  local specialty made with rice, and a tomato purée.


course 4: a lemon custard with a green tomato purée, with fennel and cilantro.

Staying at Suseia was a fabulous experience.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice weather for our walk to Pamplona.