Dear Galicia, your beauty takes my breath away. Or maybe it’s all those hills, not sure.
After a final rest day in Sarria I am ready for the final push, 114 kms into Santiago de Compostela. I wake up early, still pitch black outside early. Twice. The second time I decide that I must have had enough sleep so hop into the shower (a Pilgrim luxury to have a shower in the morning btw) and quickly pack my pack. It’s still only 7:30am when I walk out of my hotel and now realize that being winter and all, it may just not be likely that I’ll get my cafe con leche and tostadas. Opps.
I climb ‘the stairs‘ (if you’ve been in Sarria you know what I’m talkin’ about) and much to my delight I see lights on in Meson O Tapas. Today is going to be a good day! Tostadas, zuma de naranja and a double dip on the cafe con leche and its light enough outside to press on. Knowing the hill ahead, the two cups of coffee seemed like the only prudent thing to do. I cross the train tracks and moments later I am headed up. With a few hundred kilometres of toughening up behind me already it’s not so bad. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I have, however, caught on to a trick I have been playing on myself. When my heart rate gets to a certain level and the humidity on my brow exceeds a particular percentage, I find myself oddly interested in photographing the weirdest things, sometimes taking 3, 4 or 5 different versions of the shot. The photos never make it to press but at least the vital stats all return to green and I don’t need to call 112 while clutching my chest.
The weather is not exactly in my favour this morning. Snow flakes keep trying to get a foothold and the pea soup fog has made the sunrise photo opp nonexistent. The trail meanders through very small farming communities and but for the various cats, dogs and cattle I’d think I was alone on the planet. There are not many opportunities for a mid-morning coffee or snack and the few available in-season have all gone to hibernation in the winter. I vow to stop at the first place with lights on but know that it’s likely to be a while.
Moving at my normal pace the normal happens and I am overtaken by two other Pilgrims and two local dogs who have decided to throw their lot in with them in hopes of a few treats. I think the odds are slim but applaud their initiative.
The Way is still uphill and the higher I go the more snow and ice is on the trail. I’ve not been in Galicia when snow is on the ground and find it most different from the environment of saturated green it usually is. I know I signed up for a winter Camino but just between you and I, I’ve had my fill of snow and ice and hope for a return to the green hills Galicia is famous for.
I’ve reached the highest point of today’s walk and as I start descending I observe the white recede, replaced by green. I am happy.
And then the big moment… the one every modern day Pilgrim knows. The one that fills you with excitement, happiness even giddiness… the 100km marker! It’s also a ‘hmmm…’ moment when you stop to compare your life before your first Pilgrimage and now. Before you walked hundreds of kilometres over a few weeks or a month the notion of ever walking 100kms was a laugh. Now, a trail hardened Peregrino with buns of steel, you are overwhelmed with joy that you ‘only‘ have 100kms to go! “Heck, I might just knock that out in 3 days”, you think to yourself with a straight face.
Mercifully, the trail is headed downhill now and the sun has decided to make an appearance, burning through the morning fog. All of a sudden it is spring again, crops growing, cats laying in the sun and cattle with really, really big horns grazing in green pastures. Perfection.
I’m only a kilometre from Portomarin now and as I come off the trail and on to the road I am shocked to see the bridge. Well, technically, the bridges. The water level is so low the original bridge is easily useable. I can see remnants of old buildings partly above the water. It’s almost a little Atlantis-like seeing this.
I slowly cross the bridge and grind it out to climb those last 50+ stairs and I am there. Just a left turn at the church and my Albergue awaits. It was a good day.
Distance walked today: 23.6 kms
Total distance walked: 500.4 kms