It was a tough first day but I made it up the 900 meter climb over the Pyrenees and it is a wonderful feeling to be here. Gord and I took different routes this morning; he on the much higher Route Napoleon and me on the Valcarlos route. Every trip there is usually one thing I get really anxious about and today’s climb was it this time. Although I would have loved one more lower gear, it was quite manageable with lots of rest stops and a bit of pushing. Nothing like the 17km of pushing I read on someone’s blog. Eeek!
We were very lucky with the weather; it has been quite wet here but today the sun broke through by noon. As this shot suggests; sun is a rare thing in Roncesvalles.
Gordon – It was a glorious day on the route de Napoleon, which is the trail taken by most pilgrims in fair weather. The route climbs steeply at times, eventually rising 4,000 feet above St. Jean Pied de Porte. Unlike mountains in Canada, the Pyrenees are alive with human activity. Houses are found most of the way up, and the peaks are wide open pasture land dotted with herds of shaggy, horned
sheep. There are also a surprising number of single lane roads twisting over the landscape. Shortly before I reached the Spanish border I encountered a van selling drinks and snacks. In an effort to get pilgrims to stop, the vendor asked each one which country they were from, which he then entered on a chalk board. About 60 pilgrims had already passed ahead of me. Half of them were from either France or Spain, but in all about a dozen countries were represented, including Korea (9 pilgrims) and Israel. I was the first Canadian of the day.
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