Camino de Santiago, Day 25
Rabanal Del Camino to Molinaseca 16 Miles
This article is the twenty-first in our series of walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago with my husband Scott. Some articles will be only about one day of walking, and some may include a few days of walking, for the lengths will vary. To begin with the first article click here.
Another morning, another mile. I was amazed to think how Scott and I had walked over 300 miles so far. In our minds we took it day by day; it was overwhelming to think about walking 500 miles.
A Special Morning on the Camino
Scott, Jenn, Blythe and I walked out of Rabanal Del Camino in the dark. Scott led the way with the only headlamp of our group. Our plan was to arrive at the top of the mountain (the highest point on the Camino Frances) by mid-morning.
After a while, we came to a small village and stopped for food and coffee.
Lou and Helen came upon us as we were leaving. We said our Buen Caminos because we knew we wouldn’t be seeing each other again. Helen’s knee was giving her problems and they would soon be walking less miles each day. We had exchanged email addresses the night before so we could keep in touch after the Camino.
We never did see Lou and Helen again on the Camino, but we did email with each other after we returned home.
Cruz de Ferro
The hike up the mountain was on a single-track trail. We had anticipated it being steeper and more strenuous, but we all felt good and strong. Time passed quickly and we all quietly walked in contemplation, thinking about leaving our pebble at the Iron Cross.
As we arrived at the Cruz De Ferro, it was surrounded by pilgrims. The Iron Cross is one of the most famous monuments on the French route of the Camino. It dates back to the 11th Century. Pilgrims from around the world have carried a pebble or stone from home and left it at the cross. The pebble represents a burden the pilgrim would like to leave behind.
I had given this a lot of thought as I walked the Camino. My stone from our yard in California represented the burden of expectations. If I could eliminate expectations in life, I would be less likely to be disappointed.
Unfortunately, the area was so busy with pilgrims it was difficult to have a quiet moment (and take a photo) without being interrupted. By the time we moved on, I was disappointed and annoyed.
It doesn’t escape my notice that my “expectation” of the Cruz de Ferro was too high, so I was ultimately let down. Lesson learned.
The Cruz de Ferro was a source of concern for me before I left for the Camino. I had gathered a few stones from Lake Tahoe, a place that is very special to me. But, I couldn’t think of what it was I wanted to unburden myself of.
I was actually texting my husband about it as we neared the cross. Soon, I decided what I wanted the stone to represent for me. Climbing up to the cross and placing my stone was really uneventful, even seemed a little disappointing for me. But, when I came down off the pile of stones, a wave of emotion hit me and brought me to tears. I was completely taken by surprise.
I spent the next few hours reflecting on the experience and realized, you don’t necessarily have to have a preconceived idea of how it’s going to go. Things might be completely different than you imagine!
The Knights Templar
As we crossed the top of the mountains, we kept our eyes peeled for a refugio hosted by a man of the Knights Templar. Thomas, runs the refugio as a place for pilgrims to stop along their journey.
Turning a corner, we spotted his compound, so we stopped and had our pilgrim’s passports stamped.
There were a lot of pilgrims milling about, so we didn’t stay long.
The views we enjoyed as we crossed the mountains were amazing. It felt like we were on top of the world!
Far in the distance we could see the smoking towers of a power plant. We hoped we wouldn’t end up staying near there!
As we started our descent, we came upon the small village of El Acebo. The terrain was changing, and we noticed it was different local rock they were mining for buildings and roof tops. This town had dark, grey slate on every single roof in town. It looked great with the stone walls, very charming.
Heading down the cobbled street, we passed a restaurant patio full of pilgrims eating lunch. Ted and Eve from Texas were there. Ted came over and gave Scott a big hug. I guess he was happy to see Scott!
Of course, we didn’t stop for lunch, as we never took long breaks on the Camino. There were only five miles left until we reached our next destination of Molinaseca. We were going to finish it up and rest would come later.
Hiking Down Dried Creek Beds
The next stretch took us quite a while. There was some downhill pavement walking and then, seemingly endless miles of trail, downhill. It was rocky terrain and some of it seemed to be dried creek beds.
Two men walking the Camino in the opposite direction passed us by with donkeys. They were pretty rugged and were camping their way along the Camino, asking for donations along the way. We gave them a few coins, as they explained it was expensive to feed the donkeys.
Eventually, we walked into Molinaseca and saw the bridge into town.
It was such a beautiful setting. The bridge over the Meruelo River was built in ancient times and was magnificent.
As we took pictures on the bridge, I pointed to a patio cafe down below and said “I’m hanging out there!”
We walked through town in search of lodgings. My last option was always an albergue. I preferred more privacy, like a hostel, pension, or casa rural.
Finally, Scott found a casa rural with rooms available. It was third floor accommodations, which was a bit tough on the feet and legs, but it was a nice place and we weren’t complaining.
Much Needed Relaxation
Our lodgings had laundry service (woohoo) so we didn’t have to hand wash our clothing!
I showered and told everyone I would meet them by the river for food later.
I walked through town looking through windows into shops which were closed for siesta.
Eventually, I found the cafe by the river and sat on the outside patio. It was the most beautiful and peaceful setting I could imagine. Just what I needed after a long day’s hike. Oh, except for the couple who sat down near me and started chain smoking. I could never get used to that in Spain.
The server greeted me and I explained to him that I was starving and was in need of some food. Unfortunately, being siesta time, they were only serving wine. Poor me, you’d think I would learn, but even by Day 25, I hadn’t figured out siesta.
Suddenly, the server brought my wine and a tray of one bite, fried, chicken tenders. He grinned, and gave me one and passed the rest out to the other patrons.
For the next hour, he stopped by and gave me extra snacks so I wouldn’t starve. It was so sweet, and one of those really nice moments on the Camino.
Dinner Along the River
I ended up sitting at that perfect spot for the rest of the day.
Scott, Blythe and Jenn all joined me and we had such a nice, relaxing evening.
Ted and Eve from Texas had come into town, so they joined us for dinner. The weather was comfortable and the food was excellent. What a perfect night!
Oops My Coin Purse
After returning to our room later, I realized my little coin purse with cash and credit card was missing. Back to the restaurant we went. It was all closed down and cleaned up, but we found our server and he helped us look for my purse. Luckily, Scott found it on the ground under our table, with everything intact. What a relief.
Day 25 was tough, but really great.
Day 25, 16 Miles.