Today was almost all descent, close to 4,000 feet of it in about 16 miles. It wasn’t an easy descent, either. Much of it was over loose rocks and gravel, while quite a bit of it was over large slabs of rock that are slowly becoming loose rocks and gravel. My right big toe felt the brunt of every step; it’s bright red and I’m assuming I’ll eventually lose the nail.
The day began from Foncebadon, and about an hour later we hit the Cruz de Ferro. It’s an iron cross at the top of Mt Irago that was probably a wayfaring point for Romans and even the Celts before them. It’s become Camino tradition to bring a stone from the beginning of your journey and leave it there. I took a stone from our beloved Virginia Trail in Modesto and tossed it into the pile. I’m sure it’ll still be there long after I’m gone. Interesting thing about the Cruz de Ferro; all the pictures you see make it look as though it’s in the middle of nowhere. I guess that might be true except for the ROAD that goes right by it.
On the way to El Acebo, we ran into many new friends. Kate from Scotland, Dom from Portsmouth, Paul and Leva from Belgium, the Italian guys who look like bros but really are not. Dom knows an amazing number of people on the Camino, and most people from other countries call him “Roast Beef” because the Brits have no clue how to cook steak. 😉 After another long walk, we got to Ponferrada, and our hostel looks over the impressive Knights Templar Castle. This entire area is pretty nice. Yeah, we’re here for a walk, but it seems like all of Spain has quite the walking culture as well. People are just out and about, walking through pretty plazas and just enjoying the evening; they’re enjoying themselves even with the guy playing the too-loud accordion. America could learn something from Spain in that respect. Yes, we have our moments when our people are out and about, but they’re for special events like Porchfest and Downtown Music Series. Here, people are out walking because it’s a day that ends in the letter “Y” Time for more pedestrian-friendly places, Modesto!
We closed the night by having dinner outside, as usual, and running into more Camino friends, most notably our Cal Poly friends from last night, Anika and Kate. They didn’t love the descent, either! Tomorrow we head to Villafranca del Bierzo, a big part of Spain’s wine country. About 13 miles, no prob. 😉 Buen Camino.
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