Saturday, 15 October 2016

Camino Day 4 - great trails to Molinaseca

With mostly awesome trails and great views, today's stage was a good one. At 26.5km (adjusted for climb to 29.5km for the 600m accumulative elevation), most peregrinos found the stage tough. We saw many people multiple times as they would stop to rest or eat and then overtake us again and then stop again.

We went through a bunch of sweet villages. Now, instead of the tile roofs, we're seeing slate. I still can't get enough of the old stone walls. The greater number of people walking the Camino has breathed life into these near deserted towns. Many buildings have been restored and renovated. Except for the albergue and small stores, I'm sure a bunch of the other buildings are holiday homes or perhaps they come alive in the high season?

We left Rabanal at 07h30 this morning for a steady uphill climb. We were fortunate to see a wonderful sunrise at around 08h25 before we got to the village of Foncebadón (5.8km in) where we stopped at a cafe place. Mom had a coffee and I had a delicious chai tea. It was quite chilly this morning so the warmth was welcome.

With a soft, warm sun behind us and dark clouds all around, the light today has been magnificent. Add a high-up trail over looking hills and valleys and vegetation decked in a range of colours from lime to dark green - and you've got a recipe for lots of photos.

We stopped at La Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). This is a place where pilgrims stop for a moment to reconnect with the purpose of their journey and add a stone to the massive mound or another 'token of love and blessing'.

While I focused on the human sundial, mom placed one of Bracken's (our kitty who passed in late March this year aged 20) old toys under the cross. She had planned to do this since we said goodbye to Bracken and she has been carrying the toy with her. She was quite emotional as Bracken was very, very dear to her.

We continued on the slightly undulating trail for another couple of kilometres - soaking in the light, views and vegetation.

On the ridges of the hills surrounding this area are dozens and dozens of wind turbines. It is an impressive setup. From up here we could also see the modern metropolis of Ponferrada, which we'll go through tomorrow, and also the nuclear power station and its cooling dam.

And then... what goes up, must go down. We dropped into the very sweet village of Acebo, where we sat on a bench and enjoyed our sandwiches.

And then down, down, down. And more down.

The trail is very rocky and technical and this descent takes time and full concentration. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was cooking up plans for a many-multiday stage race on the Camino route, where you send your backpack ahead every day... Another time, indeed an option.

We're staying in a municipal hostel tonight 6€ each), which is on the far end of the village of Molinaseca. Entering the town we crossed over the cobbled medieval bridge and enjoyed a walk through the town.

Mom did really well today but took strain on the descent, especially the last 5km. 9hrs on your feet is a long time, regardless.

We're following John Brierley's Camino guidebook and tomorrow's stage to Villafranca - at 30km - will be way too much for her. The next day is also 30km so we'll split the two days over three days to give us around 20km each day. This also means that we get to our destination sooner and have more time to chill and rest in the afternoon.

Tonight we'll have dinner at the hostel - 8€ each. Nice that we don't have to go anywhere and mom can get more rest.

Our route tomorrow will be around 22km. There is very little elevation gain or loss - gentle gradients - and many little villages along the way.

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