Woke up this morning to another two inches of snow - I'm guessing a total of four inches fell since yesterday morning and it snowed all day today as well. I figured four inches in Valcarlos equals 8 inches higher up near Ibaneta Pass, so we made the decision to stick to the road instead of going the normal route through the woods. I bought three chocolate bars and a block of cheese to make the road walk more palatable.
We shared the albergue with a wonderful, jovial Swiss fellow named Flo. He was our only company. We walked much of the road with him today.
View from our albergue this morning in Valcarlos...
Loved the Valcarlos albergue! Blankets, heat, hot showers, kitchen, very clean. The lady who owns it didn't charge for the kids. The girls were so happy to receive their sellos (stamps) that they were bouncing all around looking cute...and then the lady refused to take payment for them. (You could try that approach for your own discount, but it probably won't work.) :)
Flo heading off...
We bought muffins and juice from the bar...
...then we saw Hugh off in his taxi and headed towards Roncesvalles. I thought Flo left his gloves in the bar, since there was a strange pair on the table where we'd been eating...Flo left before us, so I took the gloves and figured I'd give them to him when we caught up with him. Turns out they aren't his...so it looks like I stole some gloves by mistake. I'll leave them at the pilgrim's office in Roncesvalles. I am very sorry, Gloveless Peregrino, whoever you are!!
Here are the photos of our road walk from Valcarlos to Roncesvalles. The road walk really wasn't all that bad, by the way. The grade was always gentle - to you NH folks, think of the winter Carrigain road walk for nine miles instead of two. It never got steeper than that, and the views were lovely (when we had views, that is).
(We caught up with Flo and walked the final third of the road with him.)
(Alex took this video) --
As you can see, Roncesvalles is still under quite a bit of snow! Probably at least a foot (1/3 meter or more).
When we came down the road to the town, we were met by a camera crew and a reporter from a local Spanish station. He asked me if it was difficult to hike in this weather. I explained, in broken Spanish, that we lived in the mountains of New Hampshire within the United States and that this weather is completely normal to us. The girls waved at the camera, then the reporter turned to Flo and asked him the same question. Flo is from Switzerland and is an experienced hiker, and he said the same thing we did - for him, this is completely normal weather. So I guess we're going to show up on the Spanish news somewhere this evening. :)
The girls and I checked into the albergue (Flo continued toward Zubiri). The room they use for winter is small but warm. There are no blankets or kitchen facilities, but there are several showers and everything is clean. The cost is only 6 Euros per person.
Next, we found Hugh at the Hotel Roncesvalles - which is very, very nice! The manager told us we could stay in Hugh's room at no extra cost - again, I think the presence of the girls got us an unexpected discount - so we gave our spots at the albergue to other incoming pilgrims. That albergue will probably be full tonight - lots of pilgrims out there!
Hugh told us that all the people we met at SJPP who went all the way to Roncevalles in one day yesterday took the bus to Zubiri this morning! I think they might have done too much too soon. I'm very glad we stopped in Valcarlos.
We will walk the Way tomorrow and Hugh will bike....but it will be very "interesting" in all this snow.
The girls are doing well and they thought the hike today was easy. It was nowhere near steep and we were all expecting it to be far more difficult than it was. Again, though, to those who are reading this who do not know us personally, we are used to hiking mountains in all seasons...10-15 miles at a time with 3000-5000 feet of elevation gain, in subzero (F) temperatures and blowing snow. Compared to what we usually do, this was a breeze. If you are tackling the Camino with little to no real hiking experience, then this may not feel easy to you. Please don't think, "If it is easy for those girls than it will be easy for me." Alex and Sage are both experienced mountain hikers and they are very used to these conditions.
Time to sign off for now. We will go have dinner at 7, with wine! --
...then we will take showers and go to bed. Tomorrow's hike will be quite the epic journey...the snow hasn't stopped falling in Roncesvalles and there will probably be another three or four inches on the ground before we leave.
(Later...Here's a video Alex took of us going to dinner) --
Thanks for all the comments on my blog and on my Facebook Page, folks! We are reading all of them and I am sorry I don't have time to respond to each one individually. Remember that I can often post pictures on Facebook faster than I can write a blog post, so visit www.facebook.com/PatriciaEllisHerr if you want more frequent information.
Today's thank you goes to the Portsmouth Brewery in NH. They are still donating money to Global Fund for Women through their Tuesday Community Pint Nights, so visit them if you live in NH or MA and have a pint for us!
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