Strava data: http://app.strava.com/activities/46090134
After powering through a 50km day Francesco and I decided it would be best to have an easier more casual day. We started it off with a stroll through Pamplona taking photos and visiting the sights since we were too tired to consider doing this when we arrived. Steve joined us. We even made mention of staying one more night in Pamplona to take in the nightlife. By 2pm or so Francesco and I decided it would be best to continue onto another town but nothing too far. Perhaps 15kms or so. We looked to the guidebook and decided on a town called Uterga. It was just beyond the mountain ridge that is equipped with numerous wind energy turbines that you can find everywhere in Southern California just outside Palm Springs.
The rain clouds were looming and a few spring time like showers met us throughout the day on our stroll through Pamplona. A few of our friends from the earlier group that stayed in Zubiri arrived around 3pm. We stayed long enough to join them for a coffee and shoved off by 4pm to make our way to Uterga.
Making our way outside Pamplona I could feel how swollen my feet were and my shoes were once again uncomfortable both on the backs of my heels on the achilles tendons and threatening blisters between my toes. Maybe I should have considered a half size bigger in my shoes to compensate for the swelling for such an adventure?
We walked along the sidewalks to the outer limits of the city and connected with the trail head through a park leading us to the low mountain ridge with the wind energy fans. We could see the zigzag of the trail up and over the ridge past the fans. As we started the ascent the clouds were growing behind us and getting darker showing signs of a larger storm that was in the weather forecast for that evening. Just before reaching the top of the ridge on the trail we entered dense fog and I took a moment to make a video diary which I´ll share as soon as I find a computer to accept my SD memory card to upload the clip. It reminded me of the fog when running in the Marin Headlands trails of San Francisco. Reaching the top of the ridge we punched through the fog to see over into the valley on the other side and the next town which was our stopping point for the day in Uterga.
As we began to descend on the trail from the ridgetop we could see the clouds of the storm and the fog following us and moving in fast. We decided it best to double time it down the trail and ran. This was a harder feat for Francesco with his 55 liter pack compared to my 17 liter pack. Mine weighing in a 5.5 kilos and his at 11+ kilos. Although a big pack, Francesco stayed on my heels the entire way down the trail. At the bottom we walked again periodically looking over our shoulders to see where the storm and fog were. Eventually it was time to run again. Lightning, thunder and heavy dark clouds and strong winds were at our backs. We grabbed our ponchos and began running. It was dark at this point and it was a gravel road with some muddy spots and a surprise creek soaked our feet as we ran through it on our way to Uterga.
Exiting the valley trail onto the asphalt of the town limits of Uterga we walked the "ghost town" until finding the Albergue. A few pilgrims were standing outside under an awning on the patio having cigarettes and speaking in English and Spanish. Francesco and I entered through the gate to a nice patio area in our wet ponchos and into the small dining area and kitchen where we checked in with the hospitalera at 8:45pm. We ordered our dinner of the "Menu de Peregrino" which consisted of spagetti with marinara sauce, brown lentil soap, a mixed greens salad and a bottle of wine for 10 Euros each.
As the meal was being prepared we went to the bunkbed room to drop our bags, clean up a bit and walked downstairs to greet all the other pilgrims of which we had met in Roncevalles and were marching at a good pace each day as Francesco and I had done. The group had: an Irishman, Joe, a German, Joe also, a woman from Denmark, "Sunshine", three other Germans (one named Josephine - cute!) and a Bavarian woman. Such a great international mix of people all at one table! Francesco and I sat at our own table so we had room for the meal we had ordered. Two women from the UK sat adjacent to us that we chatted with a bit. The meal was great and the wine was reasonably priced.
The ´Joes´ invited us up to a small living room area upstairs just outside our bunkbed room for some late night conversation and wine. They already had five bottles between seven people in hand and I purchased a sixth to share with the group. We chatted late into the evening and drank every last drop of the wine. I shared my first day´s experience with the group and was referred to as "crazy" several times which I agreed with. Taking the closed route due to snow and a person dying just a week or so before was definitely a bad idea. At least I survived...
Six bottles of wine later and our beds were calling our tired bodies and feet. Off to bed with ear plugs at the ready. I was so tired I didn´t even shower this night. Since it was such a short day I only needed to wash my calves and feet. I showered the next morning in preparation to take on the day ahead.
Tomorrow, Estelle! 35kms!