I feel like this is going to turn into a negative post. I am so sorry if it does, but today was a hard day. Yes, there was one hill that absolutely sucked, but that’s not what made it a low day. What made a frustrating day is that my mortal enemy the sun is besting me.
Remember: allergic to all chemicals that would touch my skin, especially chemical sunscreens, coupled with photodermatitis.
Plus, I made a terrible mistake of listening to fellow pilgrims yesterday who insisted I must only read the weather reports from the Spanish websites. Stop looking at Weatherbug, I was told. You know what? Weatherbug has not been wrong yet, but the Spanish source said that it was supposed to start raining around noon today.
I dressed for cooler weather.
My freshly laundered long sleeve shirt was in the very, very bottom of my backpack.
I had my poncho and backpack cover ready to go pinned to the outside of my pack so I could access it quickly.
I wore a pair of slightly heavier socks.
The high today was 30 C (86 F, according to google).
What happened to the rain? This is Jen-killing weather if I’m walking 27 km with all of my possessions strapped to my shoulders.
But let’s back up. The day started well enough. Until I walked by the village church and realized it has a plague ossuary.
Then the hill. I promised I would not complain about climbing hills anymore. I will let this picture explain everything to you.
It’s 8:00 in the morning. There should be no problem. I’ve been warned about this hill so I was bracing myself. When I started, I used the trick Kathleen from Australia taught me in the first days of the Camino: eye a spot as a goal to climb to then rest. Find the next spot then rest.
I’m going to walk to that marker. When I reached it, I discovered it’s not a marker:
No, it’s yet another reminder that people die walking this.
To that big rock. To that branch sticking out. To that scraggly little tree.
Halfway up I stopped to take a video. I apologize for the sounds of heavy breathing. It is what it is.
Finally the top!
Look at this bicyclist riding up the hill!
Here’s what the — plateau or mountain? — looks like at the top.
And here is the descent. Much sharper and steeper than the way up. 18%
It’s supposed to be flat the rest of the way and the rains will come around noon. It’s going to be a great day!
Here is a wonderful little 13th century hermitage. These people are lifesavers because they let me use the restroom. I am grateful! It is also an albergue in one end. That would have been a cool experience!
Here is my look for the late morning. The flies and gnats were so bad, they kept flying around my mouth and into my nose. Thank goodness the Camino is not a fashion show.
Now this is where things turned ugly. It was a lovely morning, but the day heated up very quickly. Almost too quickly to stay in front of it. I ended up putting on sunblock three or four times, but I could still feel myself burn. I have to use a sunblock that is all natural hippie drippy zinc oxide, which means it rests on top of my skin instead of being soaked in. It also means that when I sweat, it turns into a nasty white pasty mud. Everything I was wearing was covered in white streaks.
When I stopped in the second to the last village for the day to sit in the shade for a few minutes and have a drink of water, other pilgrims that were there were shocked to learn I was continuing on another 6 km to the next town. It’s where I had a reservation! It was 3:30 and broiling out.
The Camino showed me a little bit of mercy by providing this long line of trees for shade.
But not a lot of shade. Mind over matter. As soon as I reach Fromista I can fall apart.
Oh my lord it was hot. Sweat was dripping off my eyelashes and fogging up my sunglasses.
Despite wearing so many layers of sunblock I looked like a ghost, I could still feel the skin on my arms bubbling. I can’t do this anymore.
When I finally reached this lovely little canal, I stopped and did the unthinkable.
I whipped off my T-shirt that was streaked in white and put my hoodie on. At least I was no longer exposed to the sun, but it did raise my own body temperature quite a bit. This was miserable. I just walked along the canal as fast as I could.
It was so hot out, the water in my water bottle was hot. I swear I could’ve steeped tea in it.
There was one treat left on the walk: this old locks system. It brought me the tiniest moment of joy. Who knows, it might have just been the sight and sounds of rushing water.
I had not seen anyone from the group I walked yesterday on the trail except Frank from Germany who stopped at the last village. It was a really nice surprise that many of the same group had gathered at the cafe on the main floor of the pension I booked, and a few are staying here.
The shade and beer with everyone — amazing. No one did well today. We were all suffering.
By dinner time, I started getting the tell-tale bumps and blisters on my right arm. The husband texted me to just go buy lots of aloe — but there was no pharmacy or store open. Today was a holiday. I’m just making do.
What will happen tomorrow? Westherbug is forecasting high 70s, which means out on the exposed path it will be even higher.
Ok, negativity off. Wish me luck! Egads.
P.S. Please don’t comment about how hot it gets where you live and this is nothing. I live in Seattle for a reason and I chose April for this trip for a reason.
You are amazing! What endurance and fortitude — lots to be proud of — hope you find aloe at the next stop and that the long sleeve shirt in the bottom of the pack is one of those SPF sun-blocking ones.
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Thanks Erika! It’s not— it’s just a plain quick-dry shirt from the jogging section of the sporting goods store. I’ve learned I can’t be picky when acquiring “gear” on the Camino, so it’s good enough. Certainly sighs better than 4 layers of hippy sunblock (which clearly doesn’t work at all).
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Oh, Scott, am grieving for you.Had no idea you had a set itinerARY before leaving Seattle. We never booked ahead-we stayed 2 days when we found places we wanted to explore,,,
but know you’ll make it in 1 piece. Wishing you more Joy, tho!
I started booking 1-2 days ahead after I saw a peregrina before me not able to find a place, then the same happened to me in El Burgo and I ended up walking an extra 11+ km in the intense sun. The advantage of booking ahead 1-2 days was that I knew I could take my time without worrying if I would find a place to sleep. The disadvantage was locking myself in for set distances. The good definitely outweighed the bad.