8 Oct 2019
I had high hopes when leaving Trabadelo, despite a forecast of rain, because there was no rain to be seen. The planned walk was 17 Kms and it was 50F at the start. In fact, I was with a small group of pilgrims and everyone was in a great mood. After all, Santiago was less than 180 Kms away now.
Sadly, as the morning progressed and we climbed into the mountains, clouds and other hints of what was coming appeared.
Still, the ascent and weather were tolerable, until the town of Vega de Valcarce. That’s were the on-and-off rain, fog, and poor path quality started. Let’s go to the graphic of the elevation changes:
As you know by now, suffocating rain gear + hard ascent = steam bath. My least-favorite state of affairs. Then the weather degraded in a hurry, even when the path surface improved temporarily.
The steam bath, weather, and sheer exercise of climbing for hours was really fatiguing. I was running on empty when the rain paused and I entered the little town of O Cebriero. The Wise Camino app describes it as having “grown from a small and ancient village of dairy farmers into a small and ancient village of large-scale tourism”. There’s nothing quite like a few tour buses disgorging folks at the top of the hill to make the agony of my last few hours seem pointless.
I stumbled onward, looking like I’d just emerged after having been thrown into a swimming pool, in search of my hostel. Who should I find at the nearby bar, looking calm and collected while enjoying a fresh beverage? Yes, folks, Kerry and Christie. Too tired to stop and chat, I stumbled on.
I finally found my accommodations at last and my hosts were very kind about my drowned-rat appearance. However, when they showed me the “stairs” to my attic room, I thought at first they were joking:
I really had to summon up some reserves to get my legs to take me up there.
After my rejuvenating pilgrim routine, including rigging a clothesline to dry everything, I went down to the bar part of the establishment. Jackie, an artist from Bristol, U.K., whom I’d met a few days earlier, walked in and we had dinner together. She’s a fascinating woman who, among other things, is a free-lance illustrator of children’s books. The good company and warm food did wonders for me.
Tucked away in my attic room, I was plenty warm that night and absolutely everything dried out. The forecast for my start the next day was for more of the same weather and a famously steep descent into Triacastela, so not that encouraging. Feet and legs were exhausted but not damaged. I was sooo tired I slept like a rock.