29.6 km

Santa Catalina de Somoza – El Ganso – Rabanal del Camino – Foncebadon – Cruz de Fierro – Manjarin – El Acebo

We click-clacked out of the Albergue at 6.10 this morning, our way lit for a short time by the lights of the village.  But the trail soon headed into open countryside and into darkness.

The sky was painted with constellations and the dusty milky way (although I may have been misguided); it looked so strange and vast.  So rarely do I see a night sky like that.  In the fields, the farmers were out early and their lights shone in the distance, roving the fields.

We were almost alone on the trail today it seemed, though one other couple walked silently  on the road, overtaking and being overtaken as we stopped for breaks.  My partner wasn’t feeling that great today, with sore hips and feet so the going was tough especially as we started climbing straight from the village.  It’s a subtle trend but on tired bodies, you feel every step.

We stopped for breakfast at the first hostel just before Rabanal.  In fact, all the pilgrims seemed to take sustenance here, being the first to offer breakfast at this time of the morning.

The landscape was different here from our last two days, sweeping valleys and treelined slopes and thankfully areas of shade and the temperature a little cooler than previous days.

Struggling to Foncebadon on blistered feet

Through Foncebadon for another stop, having earned this one after several hours of climbing.  My partner was slowing and struggling on his feet.  Normally, a faster walker than me, I felt him falling behind but he soldiered bravely on though it was obvious he was uncomfortable.  I wanted to help but how?

La Cruz de Fierro comes soon after this stop; a place of great significance on the Camino. Pilgrims fell to their knees in prayer;but maybe the spiritual importance of this site is lost amidst the bustle of pilgrims.

But for today, I needed it.  I needed the significance it carried and my thoughts were with my partner; I whispered words for his happiness in our uncertain journey.  I whispered that we would both have the strength to carry on though our path was uncertain.  sam_1246

After we had a photo taken by the cross, my partner’s arm around me, I found myself with tears in my eyes.  I had to properly shake myself; the Camino brings on intense feelings sometimes.

A good path takes you onto Manjarin, a village in ruins apart from its interesting hostel.  The sign here tells how far you have to go to Santiago – only another 222 km and that would not be our stopping point!

We continued slowly climbing, stopping frequently which allowed me to drink in the breathtaking views.  And then it was over; we reached the top of the second summit of Alto Altar and it was a rather wobbling descent.  Descending is harder on my knees and I picked my way through those tracks carefully as we finally entered Acebo.

The views on this stage are stunning

I may have been uncertain on my feet but my partner was struggling; and an ambulance cruising past the village spotted him and stopped, asking him if he needed help.  Proud man that he is, he declined their kind invitation to carry him to hospital.  But he was slow and careful, leaving me to run ahead and find a bed for the night at La Casa del Peregrinos, at the far end of the village.

Foot check, shower, washing and sleep.  All a peregrino needs!