Today was an excellent day for hypothermia. I feel quite sorry for pilgrims who insisted on wearing cotton.
It started out normally enough. Overcast skies, slight wind...we had an easy time of it leaving Astorga.
We went through the tiny town of Murias de Rechivalda, through the countryside, to and through Santa Catalina (notice the hills in the distance!) and El Ganso...the cloudy skies turned to drizzle...
...to Rabanal del Camino.
Soon after leaving El Ganzo, the light drizzle turned into bona fide freezing rain. It poured...the wind picked up...it poured sideways...the girls and I had on our waterproof jackets but not our waterproof pants...I had allowed all of us to hike in the drizzle without protection a hour earlier since we had felt hot...so now we were in danger of developing hypothermia if we didn't keep moving....we had our jackets on but our clothes were wet underneath. If worst came to worst, we could have ducked into the trees (there were actually trees!) and changed into dry clothes under protection of the leaves and our pack protectors, but I thought we'd be okay if we kept moving. The girls said they did not feel cold and they were behaving normally. We therefore carried on, quickly, keeping our heads down and battling through the ice cold, pouring rain.
The trail changed from road to rocky path, through some lovely but thoroughly wet trees...I didn't take photos since I was afraid of killing the iPad...we climbed up...and Alex got too quiet for my liking. To ensure everyone was doing well, I led us all in a few rounds of "Down By the Bay." That's a kid's song where people have to create their own verses. The kids like it and it's an excellent way to see if everyone is able to think straight (one of the early signs of hypothermia is confusion). Sage jumped in with a bunch of silly verses...she was doing well...Alex took a bit longer than normal to come up with her verses so I was a bit worried about her...but then Rabanal del Camino popped up before our eyes and we strode into town and straight into a bar.
We're staying at the albergue Gaucelmo. The hospitaleros are Keith and Claire; they're members of the London-based Confraternity of St. James. They are so sweet - they opened the beautiful albergue early today and they encouraged us to dry off and warm up before attending to business. The albergue is donativo and it is gorgeous - there's a balcony that overlooks the mountains, there's a garden, a salon with a fireplace, a kitchen, and nicely warmed sleeping area. The donativo price includes breakfast in the morning and tea at 4:30. What a lovely, warm welcome after a challenging day!
Misc. comments: I used my Dog Dazer for the first time on the Camino today. Two huge dogs ran up to us barking and growling...they got very, very close to the girls...the owners were not to be found and we were in the middle of nowhere...I pressed the button and both dogs immediately turned and ran off. Excellent. (For the record, I like dogs...that is, I like dogs that are well-behaved and not approaching us without our permission.)
We reach Cruz de Ferro tomorrow morning. By tomorrow evening, we should be in Riego de Ambros or Molinaseca.
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Location:Calle Real,Rabanal del Camino,Spain