Thursday, September 11th
Today our plan was to take a taxi back to Zubriri and walk the 13.1 miles back to Pamplona we’d missed when we took a taxi to the hospital in Pamplona. I’d convinced Pat she was ready and strong enough to get back on the trail. I set my phone for 4:15am. A taxi was coming to drive us the 30 minutes it takes to get to Zubiri.
I woke just before my alarm and asked Pat what time it was. 4:25! We both lay in bed without talking. Pat then shared, “We need to talk.” She didn’t leave me guessing for long and said, “My Camino is over.” Pat cried. I cried. She said that she had pain in a front tooth and I know there is a bigger problem going because my teeth are moved out of alignment from their normal bite position, AND 4 teeth are numb!
I knew she was going home. There was nothing to say. No pep talks were indicated. This was serious. I felt awkward. The taxi was coming shortly. I had to pack up if I was going on without Pat. We talked, cried and hugged as I got ready to leave for the Camino alone. We’d talked about what the other would do if one of us could’ve go on. Each of us said we’d continue our walk alone. So I sadly left. Pat was going to see a dentist in Pamplona or back home.
I was scared. I was sad for myself and Pat. The taxi driver dropped me off by the old bridge. It was dark. After a quick pee behind a dumpster, I got on the Camino, south of the Arga River, heading west. My mind played games with me as I walked on the narrow, dark, brush lined trail past an industrial part of town, wondering if someone would jump out and rob me. I distracted myself by thinking about the cafe con leche I’d have about 3 miles up the trail at the very small town of Larrasoana. “Historic houses from the 15th and 16th century line the Main Street; some retain their coat of arms above the door.” The moon was still up and looking like the full moon it had been two days before. I started to get into a good hiking rhythm, reflecting on past backpacking times. I was back out in the country with the cutest little horses and new families of cows. I was on the tail again, feeling good.
It was getting a little lighter, I was up higher than I’d been and thought that maybe I should call Ray before he heard from someone else Pat was leaving the trail. Ray answered and I said’ “Pat is leaving the trail.” Ray then said, “So are you!” (That was so unlike Ray to say something like that.) I quickly and adamantly said that I was not leaving the Camino!” (I thought he meant that he didn’t want me doing the trail alone!) Ray said that something terrible had happened. I could not believe when Ray said that a dear family had died. Of course I was going home. My sister Ginny and her family were arriving in Palm Springs the next day. I wanted to be there. I was in shock and disbelief. I tried to gather my thoughts to get a plan of how I was going to tell Pat to wait for me as I was going home too. I had a Spanish SIM card in my phone but had never made a local call. I didn’t have the number of the NH Hotel, and I don’t speak Spanish well enough to trust I’d understand the operator. I called Ray and asked him to call an International operator. Ray doesn’t know how to do things like this but he tried. He needed the phone number of the Hotel he was told.
Ray eventually called Pat at our hotel, after looking up the hotel on the Internet!!!,telling her I’d find a way back to Pamplona and to not leave before I arrived. I didn’t know how I’d ever find a taxi when I got to the next tiny village. I walked the empty street one way and then the other way before knocking on the door of a Pension. A nice man called someone and told me a taxi would arrive in an hour after the driver dropped his kids off at school.
I reconnected with Pat, we took a taxi to the train station and are now on the train headed to Madrid to see about changing our tickets and getting on the first plane home.
I can’t wait to see my family.
Sunday, Sept. 7th
St. Jean Pied de Port to Orisson, 5.6 km
Out the door at 6:00am after having set our alarms for 4:45. Neither Pat nor I slept much again. I went to bed around 11:00pm and woke up 12:30am wide awake. After deciding to journal Friday and Saturday’s blog I got in another 2 hours of sleep.
Pat let me know it had rained last night. I know last night Pat was concerned throughout the night with the lightning over our route she could see from her bed. I assured her (like I really knew) it was nothing to be alarmed about. It was only the kind of lightning that illuminates the sky but doesn’t strike down to the ground. Fog had rolled in last night and was still present this morning. I was thrilled Pat didn’t bring up doing the other Camino route strongly recommended when there is fog! I just casually mentioned that the fog would burn off before long. (Again like I really knew!) what I did know was that I wanted to hike the Napoleon Route for the views and photo ops.
We packed up and headed out in the dark, in wet clothes we’d washed the night before that hadn’t dried because of the moisture from the rain. The street lamp out front of our hotel cast great light on the street so I asked Pat to come back a few feet and stand in the street again while I shot her photo. I had the ISO up at 5000 and, on the Fujifilm XT-1 I’m shooting with, I knew I’d have lots of grain in the photo but didn’t care. I liked the look of the foggy, dark, but we’ll lamp lit, street scene. I shot many low lit by street lamp and early morning light fog shots with Pat featured, usually in silhouette. I was in heaven shooting braking morning light through the fog that was in fact lifting as I’d promised!
Pat’s glasses were fogging up from the cool of the morning and her over heated body. Mine were fogging a little too but I can see when I take my glasses off, Pat can’t. She asked me to stay in her vision so she could follow me.
We were the only Pilgrims on the Camino for about an hour. But then they started passing us, and from then on everyone of the 200 plus in town beginning their hike passed us….even one kid in a group of teens smoking while walking up the hardest hike of the entire Camino. We are slow!!! But who cares, right? I enjoy the leisurely pace so I can shoot everything I want without worrying that I’m holding someone up.
The first day’s hike from St Jean to Roncesvalles is known as the most difficult day’s hiking on the Camino. It is straight uphill (without benefit of switchbacks for the most part). Now we only hiked to Orisson today per Pat’s request. This is a new adventure for Pat. However, these miles where we gained approximately 2,150 feet were harder than the same elevation gain on the PCT because as I mentioned we walked straight up hill with little to no relief. Pat really was a trooper today. She kept walking a pace that allowed her to keep moving without stopping much. Both of us were surprised that our bodies, feet and knees experienced no problems at all. It really helped that we left as early as we did avoiding the worst of the heat. I don’t really know what my pack weighed but I’d guess around 30-32 pounds. Everyone was dripping with sweat on the way up.
We arrived at the Albergue in Orisson by 10:10 am. So early to stop walking but that was our deal. It has turned out great. We’ve showered, washed and hung are clothes on the clothesline out back, rotating clothes on the line so the’d dry, had coffee with milk x two, eaten two meals and will have our third meal at 6:30pm with the other Pilgrims staying here. Pat had made us reservations at this Albergue months ago. Many Pilgrims were very disappointed they couldn’t stay. There are only 18 beds and tenting out back. We were given one of the two rooms that have only 2 beds. Other people are placed in rooms with people they don’t know.
At 6:30pm a group dinner was served to all of the Pilgrims staying at the Albergue. I was not looking forward to this. The meal was quite good…. Bread-lots of it (dry, never with butter), delicious white been veggie soup, pork slices and more beans!!!, and potatoes au gratin and almond pie-like cake (very tasty and I understand they are famous for it).
Those who work and run this Albergue are extremely good natured and very helpful. I was impressed with how quickly and politely they dealt with each of us throughout the day. Dinner conversations going on we’re difficult to hear with over 50 people talking to one another. During the end of dinner there is a tradition we were told about. Everyone goes around the room introducing themselves to the group stating names, home town, how they came to hike the Camino etc. Not my kind of evening as many of you know but I was pleasant and no one knew what I was thinking. But when one of the humongous cows stuck his head into the dining room for a second I was out the door shooting photos of that cow and all his other friends walking down the small street 10 feet from where we were dining.
While hastily changing camera cards the top cover over the card holder flipped off. That problem had my attention until I figured out a way to replace it.
Back to our room I found out my headlight batteries were dead. Set up my charging station with all my techno gear plugged in. In a matter of minutes the loudest thunder boomed. Rain fell hard and furiously and lightning kept the small window above Pat’s head looking as if someone were shining a flash light into our room. I closed the window. Walking toward the door I noticed a stream of water moving quickly right by the iPhone, iPad and camera battery charger I had on the floor. I unplugged it all just in time. Eventually our floor was flooded and the electricity went out. Pat felt sorry for the people sleeping in the tents out back. I didn’t. They were probably dry. Our room was all wet. That storm came in so fast. We were right in the middle of the storm cloud. Getting packed up in the dark for our early pre dawn departure was interesting. We used Pat’s headlamp. With no light and nothing to do, I went to bed early!
Tuesday, September 9th,2014
At 6am and not a minute sooner we were allowed to get up, pack up and get ready to head out on the Camino. That’s the way in Albergues. They tell you what you can do and not do. Actually this was a very we’ll run organization and the hospitaleros who volunteer their services were exceptionally nice.
Not long after our departure in the dark, in the midst of 200 other departing Pilgrams, Pat and I got separated. Pat thought I was ahead of her (remember its dark), and I had no clue whether Pat was ahead or behind. So I continued ahead hiking fast enough on the dark uneven trail that Pat typically walks very slowly on. After walking for 10 minutes and not catching up with Pat I thought I should go back to where we lost each other at the beginning. No Pat. Now I start hiking fast believing she was ahead and I just hadn’t caught up to her before I turned back. But I couldn’t see her. I kept walking and came to a small supermarket where I saw lots of other hikers outside. No Pat. I stayed at the market afraid to go inside to buy the triple AAA batteries I needed (the line at checkout was humongous) for fear she was in fact behind me and might walk by the market and not see me.
I left the market after about a half hour, stopping at the first cafe a few km along the trail. No Pat. I asked people I knew and didn’t know if they had seen a woman walking along looking like she was looking for someone she had lost.
After waiting and watching everyone but Pat walk by I started walking further along the trail, really thinking I should just hike on by myself and hope I meet up with Pat at Zubiri, 13+ miles from our start. But 15 minutes into my walk I thought I can’t not go back and find out if the Cafe had wireless to see if I could leave a message on Pat’s phone. The Cafe did not have wireless. So back to the trail surrendering the fear and worry I had about Pat. You see that morning I had offered to carry Pat’s Camino Guidebook for her, leaving her without one!
I could go on and on relating stories of all the people I asked if they’d seen Pat or to look out for her and let her know where I was.
We left hiking at 6:30am and finally way after I’d given up hope of finding Pat on the trail, I came up to another Cafe in Biskarreta. Not optimistic I scanned the few outside and then saw this lady jump up waving her arms and I breathed a sigh of the greatest. She and I hugged and said we were so happy to find each other.
The good news….. We made many good friends and now everyone knows who we are! We’d not participated in the fellowshipping with the other Pilgrims.
The trail entertained us with ever changing scenery, lots of farm animals and beautiful quaint towns. This relatively easy but hot trail was Pat’s longest to date. 13+ miles!!!
But I get ahead of myself. After reaching a roadside street vender where we took a much needed foot break we resumed hiking the remaining 1.8 miles to Zubiri with Dave and Bev and a new acquaintance from Brazil.
Just when Pat said that the rest stop did her a world of good, I heard…… Noooo!!! I immediately turned to see Pat face down on the rocky trail, obviously badly injured as blood was dripping from her face, glasses on the ground and 1.5 inch gash in between her left eyebrow and eye. Dave, Bev, Miley and I began to address her injuries. Between all of us we had enough supplies to get her bandaged up, calmed down and back up on her feet, at which time her nose started to release blood and under her eye there was swelling and blood pooling. We did make it down the remaining 1.5 mi to town only to hear no room vacancies anywhere and no local medical facilities. Pat was feeling weak and scared. We needed to have a doctor check her out right away.
Bar Baserri was where we sat Pat down to figure out a plan. The waitress Rosa, owner Maria and the bartender went out of their way to make Pat feel comfortable. They called for an ambulance that wouldn’t come because they had a more seriously injured person. They brought ice to Pat for her swollen eye. They kept coming back to check on her and then ordered a taxi to take us to Pamplona to the hospital where we could also find a hotel room.
So here we sit in the emergency waiting room to be seen by a doctor. We should have told them Pat had chest pains. Everyone else is getting called before us. It is 10:30pm. So much for me getting a taxi early tomorrow morning to do the Camino section fro Zubiri to Pamplona while Pat takes a rest day.
Finally in our somewhat expensive hotel in Pamplona.
Pat was seen by a doctor at midnight in the emergency hospital. She does not require sutures to the gash under her eyebrow. Butterfly strips will do the job. Yeah. X-rays determined her nose and check are not broken. Yeah again. She has to take antibiotics to prevent infection where pooling blood remains under her left eye but from the blood that came from her injured nose.
The nicest taxi driver drove us arovund for a half house trying to find us a hotel that had a room.
Pat is showered and almost asleep. I on the other hand am unshowered struggling with wifi and the internet to work. Always!!! It has been one hell of a long day. I must go get showered and sleep.
Rest day tomorrow.
Nicole took this iPhone photo of Pat and me this morning while on the BigHorn Overlook Trail in Cathedral City, CA. We noticed the arrows. Wow, we’ll be following arrows all along our walk on the Camino de Santiago. Let’s take a pic! Thursday Pat and I board a flight headed to Spain to walk the Ancient pilgrimage path also known as Camino Frances on the Camino de Santiago. This walk of 490 miles begins at St. Jean Pied De Port, France, quickly but not easily, crosses into Spain (this first day is listed as the most arduous part of the walk), and is waymarked all the way by yellow arrows – flechas amarillos, guiding we peligrinos, east to west across the northern part of Spain to Santiago de Compostela.
Are we excited about this 45 day adventure ahead of us. Yessirreeee! Stay tuned. I’m carrying an extra 10 pounds of camera related gear (including a small tripod), iPhone (battery charger), iPad, and all the related gear like surge protectors, batteries, camera cards, and cords. So much for keeping it simple. But……..my backpack is the lightest it has ever been on any backpack and we’ll be doing less daily mileage. And…..I will have all my photography gear with me!!! I’m shooting with, the much lighter than my Canon cameras, a Fujifilm XT-1, a wireless camera that I believe takes great photos. I’m really excited about the photography ops along this new and very unfamiliar adventure.
Driving home from LA last night, I spent most of the two and a half hour drive looking for shots. Ray never complained that I wasn’t really present for conversation either:-) It’s amazing how I can get lost and time flies when my eye is to the viewfinder. I believe they call my love of photography an obsession.
Stacy and I had hoped to have the energy and time (Stacy) to walk the strip during sunset tonight. It turned out neither of us was motivated to leave our rooms after a short room break following a very long but extremely interesting day filled with 3 different 3 WPPI speakers and another very tiring shopping round at the Expo that finally ended this afternoon, thank goodness. Maybe LR won’t notice how many times I used my credit card this last week. Just this morning I got a long distance call from my credit card company wanting to know if all the charges that were taking place were in fact mine. Good thing I answered the call as I might not have been able to use the card for the 3 later gear related items I just had to have. One being a new LensBaby 35!
Front And Back.
Looking down on the 405 from the 8th floor in the Courtyard Marriott in Encino, Ca.
Going through this summer’s Mammoth photos, has taken me out of the NOW. Can’t wait to go back to Wood’s Lodge in Mammoth Lakes, CA. like we do for 3 months every August.