September 4, 2018
There were 16 of us sleeping in one room last night, but by 9:00, the lights were out and it was eerily quiet. Still, I couldn’t sleep at all because I was so nervous and excited about getting started.
We got up early, had a quick breakfast in the communal kitchen and hit the trail in the dark at 6:45. I don’t know if this really will be the hardest day of hiking, but it was damn hard! We just kept walking up and up and up, around 12 miles to the summit. The vistas were amazing, fields of crops, horses, cows, sheep, monster pigs, with the Pyrenees looming in the background. A steady trail of pilgrims in front and behind us.
I was relieved to finally make it to the summit, but then we had another 4 miles down a steep, rocky trail. (Don’t worry, Mom, I took it nice and slow so I wouldn’t fall again). Finally made it to Roncesvalles around 2:00 (somewhere an route, we had crossed into Spain). We found the municipal albergue, got our beds, and did our laundry before heading out to explore the town. Surprisingly, we could still walk.
The albergue was huge, with 270 beds, but it was divided into small rooms with two bunk beds per room. Unfortunately, I got a top bunk and realized I’m too old to be climbing into top bunks. My three bankmates were young men, Enrique was next door. When we went downstairs, the office was mobbed with pilgrims and we found out later the albergue had filled up by 5:00.
Dinner was pilgrim menu, family style. We ate with two Korean women, an Australian, a man from Holland and a few others, sharing life stories.