It started last night when I went to dinner from my lovely B&B, tripped, and reopened the knee wound. Ugh. Neosporin just won't stop bleeding.
Nice preparation for today. Fortunately, the proprietor Carlos left a delightful breakfast spread. He called his business La Casa de Leo after his son and I strongly recommend his inexpensive B&B. I filled up, put on the pack, and set out in the dark rain.
I actually made good time for the first 16km. The villages were simple and the people friendly. I had a hot chocolate in Vega de Valcarce (next to the Valcarce Rio). Other than the weird gigantic slug I walked past, it was a typical alpine walk to me.
Enormous freeways carrying cars and trucks with bizarre cargo soared overhead. Little did I realize until later but these soaring bridges didn't rise very high after all. We were going to be far above them shortly.
But the challenge now, 3 hours after I started , was to begin. I had 800m (2500ft) to ascend over the next 15km.
There was much to delight and amuse. The Valcarce river water was delicious and I found much to amuse me visually: doors used as bridges and texting behind another's back.
But it was one tough slog.
As one Asian hiker said to her Italian boyfriend several times during this part, "Aren't we there yet?" The rainy, slippery muck made for a slow, tedious crawl up the mountain. Periodically the rain would pause and gave us glimpses of a most amazing Creation.
People were kind and helped each other though.
By the time I got to the top, I was ready to just collapse. I'm used to hiking uphill but not with a pack, fighting mud.
The scenes were majestic, especially as one crossed over from the Castille y León to Galicia province.
When I got to the top, I had a huge lunch and checked out the church schedule. I found a room because I frankly was not in any mood to sleep in the barracks this afternoon. In fact I just wanted to sit for a few hours in a tub.
After a 2 hour nap, I found the mass to be very touching. I had heard but didn't appreciate that they incorporated Taizé hymns into the mass. When we sang Magnificat, I actually teared up. Walking to communion, the priest kicked off Ubi Caritas, which we sang after his start.
I spoke for a while afterwards with a French senior from Lyon. She was my Taizé cross and was happy I could speak French with her. Here's the photo she took of me over the valley.
I ended my day with a simple cheese and honey plate.
I watched the sunset and dealt with my feet issues. I looked to the stars between the clouds and I thought
Magnificat, Magnificat Magnificat animas meam dominumMagnificat,
MagnificatMagnificat animam meam
How wonderful that we are made to face challenges! Some are forced upon us, some we seek. Our strength and perseverance frequently are threatened by our fears, but eventually, perhaps painfully, we make it. In prayer, I found that I could will myself upward. We lips may dry but the well is deep.
If only I were young again I sometimes thought as some younger walkers ambled past me. But their journey isn't mine and their burdens differ as well.
I'm pleased with what I walked. I would have liked to walk longer but it is night. What is done is done and what is left undone is undone. Let us walk tomorrow together once more.