Here’s a sampling of my photos from my second day on the Camino. So much happened yesterday,it was like 72 hours rather than 24. The day began at 7:00 at Orisson with bread and butter, and bowls of coffee. We set off on the path, and headed up and up, one Peregrino at a time. Solitude and quiet. Flocks of sheep and wild ponies, (and baby ponies) The wind came over the ridge of the Pyrennes and hit us straight in the face. I hiked by myself for much of the morning, working hard with the hiking poles. It was exciting to see the landmarks I’d read about in the Brierely guidebook: the Virgin overlooking the vast valleys of the Pyrennes, the outcroppings of rocks, the windswept cross. It seemed higher than 3,000 feet, with the wind and the snow off in the distance. Near the top an enterprising shepherd set up a food truck and that was the first place I experienced the gathering of
the Pilgrims taking a break. Many of the Orisson folks were there, and pilgrims who started early that morning in St. Jean, too.The guy at the food truck gave out the last stamp in France. Then, up and over a Col, or peak, the path came down and we entered Spain by going over a cattle grate. The Fountain of Roland, an overflowing spring, right before the Border, was much more impressive than the border itself. I had such a sense of walking in the footsteps of history. Roland, pilgrims, and Napolean took the same route into Spain. I walked with several people, and walked most of the afternoon with Monika from Austria and Ernesto from Indiana, who were both about my age. The terrain became wooded, and then we climbed even higher and walked next to snow fields. Then the descent into Rencevalles began, a long steep downhill through a forest. I couldn’t have done the up or the down without the poles. When we got to Roncevalles, we sat in the sun and had a beer and celebrated our arrival. Six hours, and a once in a lifetime journey, that had only just begun.
Joy. I keep feeling unexpected joy, and a sense of being fully alive.