Day 15: San Juan de Ortega to Orbaneja


We will start out this post with a status update.  We have hiked 181 miles – more than a third of the Camino de Santiago.  This is a major milestone.  If you look at the total distance (500 miles) from the start it can be quite intimadating.  Looking backwards lets you know it can be done.  One step at a time.  This photo is from this morning as we worked our way closer to Burgos. I thought it was a neat contrast. The conifer forest on the left and the yet to leaf oak trees on the right.


We came across this labyrinth in the grass at the top of a hill. There were no stone markings, just short grass where pilgrims have walked and tall grass between. Being a meditation guru, I took a quick photo and hiked onward, thinking about all the time wasted here by peregrinos over the years – just walking in circles.


It is always neat to come upon a little village. The evenings thunderstorms left lots of rain and humidity which can been seen in the low lying clouds.


We came upon Atapuerca, the site of where our ancestors came from. The prehistoric caves here are the site of the earliest human remains ever discovered in Europe,  dating back over 900,000 years. We passed up on the visitors center as we plan to see Burgos’ vast Human Evolution Museum, the “Museo de la Evolucion Humana. ”


Some of the Camino includes walking along roads.  They usually have some room to get away from traffic. In today’s stretch we had a two foot portion of 3/4″ gravel. It was tough on the feet. Little did we know it would get a lot tougher as we moved along.


Mud from last night’s rain.  It builds up on your boots until you can barely lift them.  Once out of the mud we spend time scraping off the bottom of our boots. Bo from Sweden walked with us again.  He is one of the funniest guys I have ever met and one of the kindest persons too. We have taken him under our wings and help him out whenever possible.


The trail went from muddy to painfully rocky for about a half mile as we worked our way up to the Crucerio/Punto de Vista at 3,510′ elevation.  How the original shoeless pilgrims did this is beyond me.  It also explains the ancient pilgrims hospitals in virtually every other village.


Here is the view from the top. A couple of villages and Burgos in the distance.


In Cardenuela, we came across Patrick from Florida.  Patrick and I are camino gear clones. We wear the exact same Vasque boots, carry the same Komperdell hiking poles, have the same size and model Deuter backpacks, same pants, similar hats, etc. Patrick was born in upstate NY, I was born in Western Mass. He lives in Plantation, FL, I grew up in the next town to the south, Davie.   It was actually quite strange. Patrick treks for a couple of weeks on the Camino each year.  This year he hopes to get close to Leon.

Since we talked about our aching feet,  I thought we’d share some more data.  Sandy has a pedometer app in her phone which records steps and distances.  It is pretty darn accurate as I have compared it to my GPS trail app back home.  Anyway, since we have begun the camino we have walked 422,272 total steps. That equals an average of 28,151 steps per day!  Our highest step day was on day one – from St. Jean Pied de Port up and across the Pyrenees into Spain – with over 40,000 steps – 90% on painful asphalt.  So far we are averaging 12.9 miles per day, which is where we want to keep our average.

We have cared for our feet very well and are being rewarded with an excellent camino.  It is painful to see those who have not, as they are limping along or trying to treat their bloody feet.  We make sure to stay within our bounds, wear good footwear, take preventive action when we get hot spots and check our feet multiple times a day. On a future post we will show our foot care items for those followers who may be planning their camino.  That’s all for now.  We will be in busy Burgos tomorrow!

Buen Camino!



Filed under Mark & Sandy's Camino 2014

11 responses to “Day 15: San Juan de Ortega to Orbaneja

  1. As a fellow Caminoist, I’d be very interested in your foot care routine. Great posts and updates. Buen Camino.

  2. Mindy King

    It sounds like you have really hit a rhythm. Are you going to continue on foot or rent the bikes you talked about earlier? You continue to amaze us, and we no sooner finish one day when we’re waiting for the next. 🙂 Buen Camino!

    • We are planning to rent bikes for just 4 days, which will cover the flatest portion of the Camino. It should get us caught up a bit so we can have longer to relax after reaching Santiago. Sandy has caught my cold, so we are praying it goes away fast.

      • Mindy King

        I hope she feels better soon! That sounds like a great plan with the bikes. You guys are an inspiration!

  3. Mindy King

    PS Mark, my mom and sister spent time at the prehistoric cave at Altimira and it is on my bucket list. Back in the late 1980s my mom and I toured the caves in the Dordogne region on France. It is an amazing experience.

  4. Robin

    Very interesting and beautiful pictures. I try to read these blogs as often as I can. Your a good writer/blogger and picture taker! Learning lots and I give you both credit for doing this.

    • Thanks Robin. We really enjoy traveling and this was “the big one” for us. So, we are journaling for us and also letting our loved ones know where we are and that we are safe. Glad you are enjoying the blog!

  5. I had to read all the past posts to get caught up… I have to say your trek looks amazing!!! You are making me think I could do a trek like this. Your pictures are beautiful! I am looking forward to day 16!

    • You absolutely can do it. Talk about hiking to healthy…we have both lost lots of pounds and inches on this trek. We both agree we will be in the best shape of our lives upon completion. Buen Camino!

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