After a lowsy night’s sleep I get ready for another day on the mountain. The path today has 3 ascents, and a major decent. As we are at 1330m (4,000’) I think it is natural to assume it will be cool this morning. The temperature forecast however is for 28c again, with no clouds. Layering clothing is the way to go.
So I put on 3 tops, a zip on the legs to my pants and I understand immediately something isn’t right. It turns out my logic is fine…..but it is actually quite warm. In fact it is really warm. I get the feeling we are in the mid teens when we start to walk. I immediately overheat and try to get all of these unnecessary layers off. The time is 7:30 and sunrise is for 8:45 am. Lots of time to test our headlamps and flashlights.
Right out of O’Cebreiro the trail goes up to the pinnacle then the path starts to drop. Over the next hour we will be constantly losing altitude. Lila, Louise and I stop for a quick pit stop, grab some toast and drinks. Then we are back on the road again. Before the sun rises we are faced with a dramatic vertical wall. This takes a lot of effort to climb this, especially for those of us already suffering a litany of pilgrim ailments.
Almost immediately we continue on a downhill run….and we peel off an amazing amount of path and altitude yet again.
The day will have us walking through very small communities of 3 and 4 house, some farms, and asphalt on and off. At one point several farmers are bringing their dairy herds back from the pastures for milking. The cows are coming toward us and we generally clear the way, or get up against the wall of a building to let them pass. It livens an otherwise day of walking boredom.
Before you can really think about it another dramatic vertical in the path is presented. This time there is no mistaking this for a super serious bit of trail blazing. Quite honestly I am concerned I may just skin my nose on the path in front of me. It is so steep. Multiple stops to gather yourself are incredibly necessary for me to climb this part of the trail.
Now the trail heads seriously down…..
The views should be spectacular as we descend into the valley below, but there is a thick grey cloud over everything. We can smell it too. There is a forest fire. Fortunately it is not near to us, but it is fowling the air significantly.
Later in the morning we understand this is a forest fire start by an arsonist, and had been burning since October 5th. The seriousness of this fire is exaggerated by the fact this normally rain drenched region, has never experiencing a drought. Galicia is dry!
At one of the rest stops we decide to get a stamp on our credential. After stamping our documents it is customary to write the date under the stamp. I say out loud “ Friday October The 13th”……And a Pilgrim at the bar says “That pretty much explains it”. I look at him and he explains one of the cows stepped on his foot, and he was in a lot of pain. I am not a superstitious person….I think he was not careful….and the cow didn’t care what he stepped on. (Obviously)
As I have explained previously….downhill demands much more from your body than going uphill. We have descended to about 650m or 2,000 ft. We have dropped half of the height to sea level in roughly 4 hours. My knees, Achilles’ tendons, and feet are throbbing with pain. I thought I had been conditioned by the last 24 days of walking….apparently not enough.
When we finally arrive in Triacastela, we make a quick hop to Sarria. This is my launching point for the last week walking into Santiago. From this point on every step counts. I have a plane to catch a week next Saturday with just over 100 km to go.
I really need to rest my body tonight and I hope to get a really good night’s sleep……