Day 30: Vega de Valcarce to Alto do Poio

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It rained all night long and into the morning which may explain why at 0700 we were the only ones up in our albergue.  Usually by 0700 everyone is gone or at least preparing their gear. Today when we left everyone else, including our host was sleeping. We hit the camino at 0800 to a steady rain.  

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We hiked through the village this Saturday morning and besides us, these cows were the only things moving.

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Today was set to be one of the most difficult days on the camino as we were climbing 700 meters (2,302 feet) over a distance of 20.4 km (12.6 miles).  This was now complicated by the camino looking more like a mountain stream than a pilgrimage route. The temperatures hovered around 40 degrees, the humidity was 100% and it was windy too. The steepness of portions of the camino, the weather and trail conditions made this the most difficult portion of the camino so far.

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This rock wall illustrates the climate here is pretty darn wet.

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The rain and trail went from bad to worse as we worked our way up the mountain.  Our rain gear prevented most of the rain from getting in.  However, it was a driving rain directly in our faces so our necks and chests eventually did get pretty wet.  Also, our increased body temperatures and the humidity caused our inner clothes to get sweaty soaked. The tops of our boots were also wet and sides were caked with mud. I will be honest, there were times during the four to five hours of pouring rain when we both questioned why we were subjecting ourselves to such conditions.

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We stopped at a small village bar 1/4 way up to try and warm up. Our rain gear was steaming on these chairs in front of the fireplace. It was difficult to leave, but we did.

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We reached the border of Galicia. About halfway through today’s hike.  The mountains of Galicia are the first object in 5000 km that the westerly winds hit when coming from across the Atlantic. This accounts for all the moisture in the region.

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The region also has some unique structures and the landscape looks just like western Ireland. We had lunch in O’Cebreiro. The barmaid noted our condition and promptly made us some soup. It really warmed us up. We took off our drenched outerwear and placed them on their wall heaters. We used their restroom to change into dry inner wear.  Finally, some warmth.

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After lunch the incessant rain finally stopped and we were excited to be hiking with some sunshine.  We started drying out as we hiked higher.  The fog/clouds also lifted exposing beautiful mountain meadows, most filled with cows dinging their bells.

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Still climbing over this point toward our albergue.

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Our stop for the night is located at the top of this mountain.  The final 500 meter climb was at least a 40% grade.

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I must say Sandy was amazing during today’s hike. She led the way and showed a tremendous level of determination and fitness.  There were a number of times where it was raining so hard and it was so steep that I was silently begging for a rest stop – but she kept moving.

Our bodies tonight are reminding us
that we are not spring chickens.  Hopefully by morning we will be recovered enough to start working our way down the other side of this mountain. 

Buen Camino!

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6 Comments

Filed under Mark & Sandy's Camino 2014

6 responses to “Day 30: Vega de Valcarce to Alto do Poio

  1. Hi: I’m Barry’s friend who rode the CAMINO with him. I just wanted to key you know how much I enjoy and anticipate your posts. You have really captured the essence of the experience. Wonderful pictures and a compelling personal story. Thank you-I look forward to meeting you both.

    Buen Camino – Allan Estroff

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    • Thanks Allan. As you well know, the camino is very difficult to put into words. I select my post photos first and try to fill in the blanks. Looking forward to meeting you and everyone back home.

  2. Mark and sandy, I too read your blog and I am travelling through you. I can’t wait for July 4th, that’s when I start my Camino from Burgos.
    Buen Camino. Stay warm and dry. Carla

    • Hi Carla. Spend at least a day in Burgos before heading out. It is one of the most well planned, pedestrian friendly and green spaced big cities I have ever visited. Enjoy your experience and remember everyone’s camino is their own. Everyone does it a bit differently. Make it your own and you will find your way. Buen Camino!

      • We get in Burgos on the 2nd at 4pm and start our walk on the morning of the fourth. I spent five weeks in Spain few years ago but did not visit Burgos. This is my chance to see the city. Buen Camino. Carla

      • You will love Burgos. My only dissapointment was the interior of the cathedral. When you get to Leon, pay the entry fee and see what the interior of their cathedrals looks like. You will see what I mean. Buen camino.

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