We’d had a lovely few days in Bordeaux and Pamplona but it was time to hit the road again. Papa Bear’s lungs took one look at the elevation between Pamplona and Alto de Perdon, the Hill of Forgiveness, and threatened to go on strike.
We decided to get up early, take the bus to Puente la Reine
and walk to either Lorca or Villatuerta, depending on how we felt.
Here is the elevation of the day’s route from the Camino de Santiago Michelin guide. Please note the little green man in the top right hand corner. What do you think that means? It means the route is easy. Also note the elevation between Puente la Reine and Mañeru is a little bit up, but not too threatening. The lungs were ok with this
I know this just looks like a lumpy hill, but from the bus D2 and I could make out the top of Alto de Perdon which is the site of one of the most famous Camino statues, depicting pilgrims old and modern making their way to Santiago. Both times we have been here previously it has been bitterly cold and blowing a gale so we have snapped the obligatory photo and headed on our way.
We had breakfast in Puente la Reine
and headed off full of excitement and anticipation. It is a pretty town with one of the most photographed bridges on the Camino.
The walk through the poppy-lined fields was lovely
About 3 km into the walk I had an awful flash of déjà vu as we struggled up the first hill. The cyclists were still riding,
but the memory travelled from my brain to settle like a stone in the pit of my stomach, the relentless upwardness of the stony track. In my mind’s eye I could see the cyclists off their bikes pushing them up the hill,
I could feel the hope that this curve would be the last, only to have it dashed as the track curved up, and up and up!
There were some points of joy, the glorious scent of these yellow bushes
And the feathery aniseed plants
Papa’s Bear’s lungs would have gone on strike then and there, but somehow they had to get him to the top of the hill. There was no other choice. (Well you could what I did once which was sit by the side of the road and cry, but you still have to keep going!)
Slowly, step by step, with quite a few rests along the way, he made it to the top. Other pilgrims, those that could actually speak, called out encouragement as they passed. One woman stopped to give him instructions on how to breathe properly. D2 was walking with him at the time so I didn’t see it, but I can imagine it wasn’t well received!
We finally got to Mañeru, dying for a coffee, but the bar there was not only up a hill but had stairs to the entrance, so we munched carrot sticks and ate boiled eggs in the flat town plaza.
The track to the next village wasn’t so bad,
we could see the church spire from quite a long way out and were hopeful it was a sign that coffee was nigh.
Another flash of déjà vu as climbed up the hill into the middle of town, and sure enough the bakery with vending machine coffee we had passed as we walked into town, was the only place that sold sustenance. We perched on some rocks on the outskirts and ate the ham and cheese baguettes we bought in Pamplona.
The wind was biting so we headed off to Lorca. What can I say? Stony knee jarring tracks down and more tracks up!
And then one of those miracles that happen on Camino! We had passed the sign that told us we still had a ways to go
and came upon the Gar-zen, a lovely little haven in the bush, created and run by volunteers. We sat gratefully in a state of Zen and ate slices of watermelon
I went a dead into Lorca while D2 walked up the long and winding final hill with Papa Bear, and in a lovely little albergue managed to secure a 3 bunk room all to ourselves.
A cold beer, a hot meal and an even hotter shower and we retired thankfully to bed. Papa Bear’s lungs were glad today was over.