Trekcapri’s Camino de Santiago: Zubiri to Pamplona
Zubiri to Pamplona: My Defining Camino Moment
“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself.” ~ Unknown Author
After a good night’s sleep (it was unbelievably quiet here) I am up early to prepare for another long and difficult stage of walking. A total of 11.930 miles will take me to Pamplona, passing the towns of Larrasoana, Akerreta, Irotz, Zabaldika and Burlada. Honestly aside from Larrasoana where I took a break I hardly remember them.
I prepared my pack for the transport and finish loading up my day pack. The wonderful owners have already prepared the table for us for our 7:00 am breakfast. A basic breakfast of bread and jam, coffee/tea, fruit, yogurt and orange juice. I am more tired than hungry but I force myself to eat something in order to prepare for another long and difficult stage. At the breakfast table I see my fellow pilgrims for the first time. I recognized only one, an Austrian guy who I had seen off and on during yesterday’s stage. He ate his breakfast and was out the door in a flash. In hindsight, I probably should have left that early too as the day became very hot late in the afternoon. There were also two couples (I think Australian) also sitting at the breakfast table as well. One was busily preparing her pack for the luggage transport.
I finished up then returned to my room which is right next to the breakfast table (thankfully on the first floor). I pack up, put on my shoes and say my good byes to the owners. The wife takes me to the back sliding door to show me a short cut through her back yard which leads to the bridge, taking me back on the Camino path. She’s a sweetheart. I say Muchas Gracias and she bids me good-bye with a Buen Camino.
I can now see the river which I had crossed the night before. What a beautiful setting. I mistakingly packed my sun hat in my big packpack for transport, so I quickly stop in a shop on my way out of town to purchase another sun hat as I think it will be hot today. I cross over the beautiful bridge and back on the Camino path toward Pamplona.
I started out in good spirits. The path was forestry and fairly flat with a few inclines here and there. Sadly, I did not see any of my Orisson friends. Maybe I’ll catch up with them later.
I stopped for a bit in the town of Larrasoana for a quick break at their municipal albergue. The next town I see is Akerreta which is actually quite charming. There is this wooden shade which I took advantage of to cool off. I use the fountain to wash my face and try to refresh myself before continuing. I was a little thrown off when there were two ways (both heading to Pamplona), but the one that passes through Zabaldika was going up a very steep hill. I took the flatter path below.
Today was very hot and my feet were aching. I stopped off at this café to try to cool off and give my feet a breather. I was happy to see a pilgrim from Sweden who I had met at Orisson. She must have sensed I was in trouble. Before moving on she encouraged me to go slow, take my time and rest whenever I needed to. I thanked her for her encouragements and wished her a Buen Camino. She is so nice. She is one of the people I was hoping to see again, but never did.
The only thing I remember of the town of Irotz are these wooden benches next to the buildings. It was a perfect spot to sit in the shade and rest.
There was a pleasant park that I came across and had myself another rest. I was feeling discouraged and down at this point because I could see the path which continues straight up this steep hill from the park. I watched as another pilgrim started her climb. I was so disheartened, but I shortly followed. The dirt and rocky path was steep and I was struggling, taking a break every few feet. A group of Spanish pilgrims caught up with me and tried to encourage me to keep going. “Vamonos!” they said. I smiled and said gracias and Buen Camino. Oh to be fit and young again. I kept telling myself to keep going.
My feet was really hurting, I was so fatigued, I was getting short on water, it was getting late and to top it all off, I could tell that I had a ways to go. I took the least amount of photos/videos on this stage and to be honest, other than this next moment sitting on this rock in the shade walking this stage is one big blur.
The one pilgrim I saw and that earlier group of Spaniards have all long passed me by. I was alone. I found a rock and sat on it. I was feeling sorry for myself. I was feeling lonely and missing my Orisson friends. I was feeling like a failure. I am not this emotional, but on this rock it was like the Niagara falls of emotions spilling out onto this Camino path.
Here I was having a complete physical, mental and spiritual breakdown while sitting on this rock in the middle of nowhere. After having a good cry, something inside of me told to get up and keep going. I can’t quit. I need to get myself to Pamplona and I did!
As soon as I arrived at my hotel I took a shower, skipped dinner and got ready for bed. Before nodding off, I thanked God for giving me the strength to get to Pamplona and knowing that I had an extra rest day here, I slept for about 12 hours straight.
Next up: A Stage Skip to Logrono