Camino Day 2 - Roncesvalles to Zubiri - 13.6 miles
If yesterday was a battle of the flesh, today was a battle of the mind.
We started early today around 7:00 and, having learned from our previous mistakes, ate a large breakfast with a (strong!) coffee and got a loaf of bread to take with us. It was supposed to rain most of the day but for the first 2 to 3 hours, we were spared walking in the wet. In fact the first 7.7 miles (which we measured with a Fitbit, thanks Tonya 👍) were surprisingly manageable considering how destroyed we were yesterday.
The countryside was yet again outstanding, our path leading us through enchanting woodlands that would go from intimately close to unexpectedly open in an instant, presenting sweeping vistas of small Basque villages and flocks of sheep dotting the rolling hillsides. Every hill, though a challenge, was far less aggressive than yesterday and never failed to reward us with a postcard worthy view at the top.
We stopped at the aforementioned 7.7 miles to have a light lunch at a cafe perched at the top of a small hill and enjoyed the view with fresh squeezed orange juice and a bocadillo. And from the moment we left it became a very different day.
Encouraged by the first half of the day's trek, we set out at an ambitious pace. We stopped momentarily to run a needle and thread through a blister Tiffany had picked up (more on that trick in a later entry) and then trudged on. About halfway up the next hill the bottom fell out. And it didn't stop for the next 5 hours. Within a very short time the trail had flooded in numerous places, creating small ponds that were just deep enough to present a problem. Step as carefully we did, we still filled our shoes with water and had to carry on for a couple miles before reaching a town. We stopped under cover and laid our gear out to dry and changed into dry socks. However, with wet boots, dry socks don't do much good and within an hour, we were soaked through again. All of this was exacerbated by the terrain as we moved down a steep decline for the last 3 and a half miles into Zubiri. What would have normally taken us an hour and some change took nearly 3, a grueling slog over mud caked rocks and beige rivulets of rain water. By the time we arrived in Zubiri we were pretty sapped, Tiffany hardly able to walk due to her blistered feet squelching around in soaked boots.
A shower and a copious amount of food and Spanish beer certainly took the edge off and as I write this our wardrobe is spinning blissfully around in circles in the dryer. As is always the case, it seems much less severe now that it's over but make no mistake, the Pyrenees are no less forgiving at their base than they are in the peaks.
Tomorrow we carry on to Pamplona, home of the infamous Running of the Bulls, though they won't be running until later in the year. According to my topographic map, it should be a gentle downhill hike for most of the day, which will hopefully be rainless if not sunny. We shall see.
Basque village from day 2!