Day 2 – Over the Mountains

Auberge Borda to Roncesvalles – 17 Kms, 17,778 steps

Overnight we had a huge thunderstorm and downpour but, luckily, the weather cleared by morning. After a communal breakfast and general well-wishing, we loaded up our packs and headed out at 8:00 AM.

The view behind me, of mist-shrouded valleys

The walk ahead of us was a little daunting and, in 2019, I did it during terrible weather, so I was really looking foward to doing it again in good weather and enjoying the vistas.

Roadside onlookers!

I soon met up with Margo, a solo hiker from Indiana I met the day before and, as our walking paces matched, we stayed together for the rest of the day. Her husband and daughter are meeting her in Sarria in five weeks and they’ll walk the last 110 Kms together.

I fulfilled my goal of seeing the views! They were awsome. I didn’t take many pctures simply because a photo doesn’t do justice to the scale of the view. Suffice to say the views were magnificent and humbling.

We proceeded through the mountains and I was surprised at how many details and landmarks I remembered from last time. Given that I was walking through fog, sleet, and rain then, it’s amazing how much I registered and retained.

There were a lot of other pilgrims out there with us and even what looked like a few tour groups. The temperature was 70-80 F and there was a good breeze to keep things comfortable. The first half of the day featured lots of uphill climbs, while the second half was all down.

Crossing the international border from France into Spain on foot was a little less formal than, for example, it is at the airport. There was a sign and a “cattle guard” (one of those grills in the ground to keep cows from passing) and that was it. A very refreshing change from the requirements of the last few pandemic years.

He started in Germany!

Near the highest point of the day, we encountered the pilgrim shown above, with his unicycle! That was a “”first” for me.

Over the peak and on the way down

After about four hours, including a break, we came over the final peak and started several more hours of relentless downhill. This was tough on my knees and my legs were pretty rubbery in the last kilometer. But, at last, we arrived at Roncesvalles! Margo said goodbye and we headed for our separate alberges. Mine, La Posada de Roncesvalles, featured air-conditioning and it was worth every penny.

Many alberges bring in extra revenue and make it simple for pilgrims by offering a special-price dinner and breakfast. The fare at La Posada as very good, and the staff was first rate. For dinner, I had a huge salad, a pork knuckle and escalloped potatoes, and cheese cake. Very tasty!

I hand-washed my clothes and hit the rack early. I slept well, though my legs were a bit worn out. Tomorrow is a short, recovery day, only 12 relatively flat Kms.

Tomorrow’s forecast is dicey, we may have to start out in rain gear (never real encouraging) but let’s see what happens.

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