Today begins the long, long climb up to the highest point on the Camino Frances.
That’s the bad news – the good news, my ass is looking great and is as hard as a rock.
I walked out of Astorga this morning just as the sun was starting to rise, and stopped to take some pictures of the town’s jewels – its cathedral, and the Gaudi Bishop’s Palace.
Astorga is a stunning village, once a Roman fortress (you can still see remains of the Roman baths) and, according to legend, the site where two big guns preached – St James and St Paul.
That’s one of the most humbling experiences I’m having here on my 500 mile walk across Spain. The history – from the Romans, the Moors, the Jews, and that asswipe Franco – is everywhere. There’s such a sense of permanence. Even this Spanish Schlep I’m doing – millions have come before me, they’ve walked the same paths, stayed in the same villages, and probably bellyached about their blisters and bum knees. It’s very motivating, you know, cuz if they can do it wearing their hairshirt robes, I think I can do it in my Under Armour.
My Camino comrades and I should reach our destination, Santiago de Compostela, in about 10 days.
We’re climbing higher and higher, and it’s so great to see green again after the monotonous march through the Meseta.
This is the most crowded section of The Way. Our merry little band of pilgrims is growing bigger by the day as more and more people join us. I’m told the crowds are really going to pick up in a couple of days as we get closer to Santiago.
This area was once known for being super dangerous because in addition to the bandits and thieves who once roamed these roads, wild wolf packs used to attack the pious.
Wouldn’t that just be the shits – you make it over the Pyrenees, through the Meseta and you end up puppy chow?!
Luckily there are no more wolves – but there are still enormous dogs.
I saw a pack working with or causing great agita for a local shepherd. At first I freaked when I saw them thinking for sure they were either dire wolves or polar bears – hey, if they can have polar bears on a tropical island on “Lost,” I can have magical scary ass polar bears here in the Spanish foothills.
Besides, they say the Camino is a magical place and I had just seen and talked with a Templar Knight!
And held his falcon!
And witnessed his Little Stevie impression.
It truly was a magical mystery tour here on the Camino today; a Templar Knight, polar bears, and an Italian making espresso by the campfire.
Tomorrow heading up into the mountains, hopefully the roads will be better than these.
Here are my stats
13 Miles traveled today
(Astorga – Rabanal)
336.63 Miles traveled so far
169.17 Miles left to go
505.8 Miles from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain