Salt and Water are your friends – Valcarlos to Espinal

Day 2! Is that all? And it was a monster. Woke up at the alberge in Valcarlos, I was the only one there so was pretty spooked out but nevertheless slept well. Didn’t bother with the muffins the Alberge keeper left for me but did leave behind all my Ariel Liquitabs as didn’t fancy lugging them up the mountain, so someone will be happy to smell chemically fresh today.

Now, i don’t normally eat breakfast so I thought it would be perfectly fine to make my way from Valcarlos to Roncevallas in 35 degree heat with just  2 75cl water bottles and no food.
That’s a bad idea. It’s a 700m climb over 10k – water ran out around half way and then mind wandering dozeyness, as the salts ran out too, set in.

Luckily I had some cashews id been saving since Barcelona and as if by magic, I was pounding Tarmac again up the hill. Albeit thirsty as a rabid turtle. At the point below I found a fountain that contained non drinkable water. Tease!
Do not bother with the Valcarlos route. There’s no one on it, there’s no water between there and Roncevalles and the paths are overgrown forcing you to stick to the road – and that hurts your toes! Plus, i’d wager the last ascent is even steeper than Napoleon so just don’t do it!

Lunch in Roncevalles was another gut buster with lasagne, steak and a very tasty pud I’d never heard of that was a kind of lemon yoghurt. It was scoffed ravenously. Bread too. Beer too. Coffee too.

I can understand why the Spanish start at Roncevalles, while it’s true walking in the Pyrenees is beautiful it’s just as beautiful down here in the foothills and the small town of Burguete, a favourite haunt of Hemingway & ABBA is magical.

I arrived at the Alberge in Espinal at 5.30! After leaving Valcarlos at 7.30. Im absolutely wrecked! And I have a new blister to prove it. That was a hard day. I have confirmed something I already knew about my body, it doesn’t like to walk up mountains for 5 hours with 10 kilos on its back. In fact, Im not sure it’s speaking to me.

I’ll pamper her tomorrow, it’s only 15k to Zubiri. Oh, and I finally met people. Most are asleep. Yay.

Injuries Inflicted: 1 new blister, 1 sunburnt face. A case of dehydration.

Calories Consumed: 1 bag of cashews, 1 boil in the bag Lasagne, 1 entrecôte steak with that red flat pepper they put on the side round here, chips, yoghurt, 2 slices of bread and 2 beers.

New friends: octogenarian + donkey, Swedish woman name unsure, 50 yo man called Lars.

Apprehension for next day: 3/10. Road to Zubiri has a small hill, Roland’s Boulder and a steep descent. Short and sweet.

Grateful for: The appearance of madonna & child fountain sloping down to Roncesvalles offering cold water just at the moment I needed it most.

The little girl in the Alberge whose laughter is waking up all the grumpy pilgrims.

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