5. The Red White Walk

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Today didn’t start as well as we’d hoped. The walk is meant to be just over 30km; the first 16km along a highway.  Yesterday we walked 1 or 2 km along the highway and Maggie was very nearly clipped by a passing lorry.  There is very little hard shoulder, so not a lot of room to move out if the way.  Added to this the heat… its still pushing into the 30s after lunch… and Maggie is nursing a few blisters… so we decided we should do what many pilgrims do and take a taxi to the gate of the National Park… thus avoiding the road and the long day.

Actually a few weeks ago a pilgrim died on this stage and a few others had to be rescued.  It was hotter then but it’s a long stage with nothing in between towns.  So Gerry made me promise I would take a taxi too… and I did!

I’d read that you needed to book the taxi the night before but the senora  in our hostel told us that wasn’t needed and that we could get a taxi from the main street by the open bar… it’s the only place selling breakfast so all pilgrims headed there in the morning.

We arrive at 6.40… enough time for cafe con leche and tostados before leaving.   Except  our senora lied.  You do have to book a taxi the night before.  So our early morning was in vain and we had to wait until 8.15 for our ride.  But you know every cloud has a silver lining.  We sat and chatted to all the other pilgrims who arrived and left as we waited for Juan the Taxi driver.

Juan explained that he and senora had some kind of dispute so she no longer gives pilgrims his phone number!

We arrived at the entrance to the Sierra Norte National Park just as the sun was breaking over the horizon… we literally watched it rise as we got out of the cab… we would have missed this if we had arrived earlier.

As we drove we passed our fellow pilgrims… the hardy guys that were going on foot.  Irish Michael, the three Eds… the Canadians and the Bordeaux guys and the lone guy from Japan ( he speaks no English but always smiles and greets us).
But for us it was magical watching the sun burst through the trees and create long shadows over the tall grass. I don’t think the photos will do justice to just how pretty this was.  It was cold too this morning. We’ve climbed steadily over the last few days and you notice the temperature drop.

The Sierra Norte is an area of 177,484 hectares and before we reached our destination of Almadén de la Plata we were going to have to climb one of its hills… the guide book said to reserve some energy as it’s going to be steep.

We never worried about that as we walked through the park.  It’s a beautiful walk… lined with cork trees and oaks and pine and eucalyptus.  The landscape is cut with dried out river beds and it’s hard to imagine how this dry landscape could look with the rivers in full flood.

We sang as we walked… Maggie started it… Imagine by John Lennon.  It worked. We were in that kind of camino sunrise glow kind of mood.

We stopped to air our feet and have a snack at one of the dry river beds.  I had my very first ever camino wee… no idea why I feel the need to share that but it was a milestone for me.

I have a small blister on the side of my big toe.  I’ve had them here before so I’ve taped it.  It’s not bad and at the moment I’m not concerned but I’m not ignoring it either.  We checked our feet, snacked on nuts and dried fruit, drank some water and once refreshed we moved on.

The landscape is changing and we can feel the path rising.  In the distance we see a red cut in the trees… surely that’s not the path?  But of course it was.

Maggie was worried… she may be an Aussie but she hates the heat and by now the sun was high in the sky and hot.  However she need not have fretted.  We moved from oak tree to oak tree along the path… making the most of the shade and the breeze.  It was steep… at one point I really felt like I needed to lean forward and dig in… scrambling like an old mountain goat up the path.  But we made it… and it was relatively painless.  It reminded me of our little training circuit at home… we call that the white walk… but this one was red and had teeth!

The views from the top were amazing and we tried to trace our steps backward through the park.  When we crossed over the ridge we were thrilled to see our destination just on the other side.  It was a steep and hairy descent down but painless and as we walked into town the first thing we see is a bar…and it would be rude to just walk on by… wouldn’t it?

We have another private room tonight… 15 euro for a twin room with air conditioner and private bathroom… there are a number of other pilgrims here and dinner is just 8 euro.  All in all a rather wonderful day.

4 thoughts on “5. The Red White Walk

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