Day 1: St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles. Toughest day in the Pyrenees
What a tough grinding day our first day on the Camino was. The weather started out ok but rapidly turned to drizzle and then rain. Soon the wind began to pick up and we were freezing cold. Temperatures were just below 10C but with the wind chill factor actual temperatures must have been closer to zero.
We hadn’t preparedfor this. Last time I was here I was sweating like a pig and it was exceptionally hot on the mountain. We had no cold weather gear and just had to suck it up. Cheeky had a long hard day as she was especially feeling the cold and with the arduous nature of the mountain hike she found it really, really hard going. But this woman whom I love just stuck with it. Despite feeling extremely cold and sore she just persevered and trudged along one step after another. I cannot express how much I admired her stoicism in such daunting conditions.
At the 12 km mark we felt close to giving in. We were wet, freezing cold, our hands were numb and I was seriously concerned about the possibility of hypothermia setting in. This was by far the toughest day I’ve spent on the Camino and that’s counting the 31 days I spent doing it two years ago. Then just as our wills were being sapped we find around the corner a man in a van all rugged up and selling coffee.
With numbed fingers and faces we hold the coffee to our extremities more to warm up than drink it. Cheeky takes a break in the van seat. It’s a hard spot we find ourselves in. The weather is still bleak but we know we’re halfway there (roughly) and so we push on.
For some reason the walk gets a bit better. The food and coffee gives us energy, the wind dies down and then the rain so while it is still very cold we can begin to feel our hands and faces.
We trudge along. There is not much to see as low clouds cover all the views. We know this is one of those Camino days we have to endure. And endure it we did. We eventually arrive in Roncesvalles 9 1/2 hours after we left. We made it and it feels grand to have faced the elements and our own willpower head on and come out triumphant.
Now in Roncesvalles our bodies hurt but our spirits soar.