“If you want to make God laugh, make plans!” I really should know better! Let’s just say that today did not go as planned. But, fortunately, there are always opportunities to keep learning. It did, however, turn out quite nicely. Just not what I expected.
As I have mentioned before, my intention for the next couple of weeks is to shorten the distances I walk each day – aiming for something in the 15km range. So, when I set off this morning, in the dark, under near perfect walking conditions, my intended destination was about 15km away. The first 5km or so were surprisingly stunning. The path took me right next to a road (very sparsely used – at least at that hour), with an elevated freeway winding back and forth high above my head. None of that would seem to contribute to a favorable walking experience. But the rest of the conditions far and away outweighed all of that. The Camino wound its way up through a narrow valley, with a river running somewhere below me. The lights of the town I had just left were very quickly eliminated as the path wound back and forth through the trees. The moon, even though it was only 1/2 full, was still bright enough to light my way without the need for my headlamp. And the stars simply took my breath away. Because of the winding path, I was walking towards the Big Dipper, then Cassiopeia, then Orion. At one point I was even facing Venus, which should have been behind me. Occasionally I just laughed because it was all so marvelous. It felt like one long, extended ecstatic experience.
The plan for the day began to unravel when I arrived at my intended landing spot much earlier than intended. None of the albergues in town opened until 1pm, and it was not yet 11am. So, I decided to press on to the next village, only to discover that their albergue wasn’t open at all. So on I went.
When all was said and done, my 15km day turned into a 23km day. And what was going to be some mild elevation gain turned into about 400 meters, with most of that coming in the last four kilometers. (For my Helena friends, that’s a bit like walking all morning from out in the valley, and then climbing to the top of Mt. Helena.) But, as they say, all’s well that ends well. The last three kilometers finally left the road and took me up a path through a beautiful (steep, but beautiful) forest. And I landed where I intended to land – just 24 hours earlier than I expected to be here.
About a week ago my friend Charlotte, who I spent several days walking with early in this journey, sent me a note with recommendations for a couple of albergues. Tonight I will be staying at the first of those recommendations – Albergue de La Faba, located at the edge of the village of La Faba. It is lovely and peaceful and immersed in trees. (Thank you Charlotte for the suggestion.)
I did not expect to be here (at least not yet), but here I am. And, after walking 15km a day for several days, it’s nice to know that I can still manage longer distances (even with an elevation gain) with my legs and my lungs intact.
The Camino continues to offer up surprises, and I continue to gratefully receive them. And some day, perhaps, I’ll learn to stop making plans (although that seems unlikely).
Here is a link to today’s photos – https://photos.app.goo.gl/vBVhs6HUWoe13ywT8