Day Two - Tuesday - March 26, 2013 /// Roncevalles to Pamplona /// 29.9 miles
Strava data: http://app.strava.com/activities/45966433
After a challenging day crossing the Pyrenees I met a group of Italians and Spanish traveling together and joined them for the second day. One of the Italians, Francesco, was speaking of taking on a 50km day to arrive in Pamplona that evening. I had a similar effort in mind so I mentioned I would join him and we could decide for certain at the 30km mark as to how we felt at that point.
This day I was trying to prevent further blistering and realized I would enjoy traveling with a group to talk with and enjoy the route so I walked the Camino. It was a tremendous joy to take time speaking with everyone and seeing why each person was walking the Camino and how many days and to where they planned to go. As you might expect most were traveling the Camino for the coming Easter holiday. Others for personal goals, issues or clarity. Me? I´m looking for sport. A challenge and a way to clear my mind after a challenging year with school, work, volunteering and training.
This day was full of trails wet and muddy from the snow melt and earlier rains the day before which was in the form of a snowstorm for me during my time atop the Pyrenees. Rocks, creeks, small streams and endless green rolling hills ahead the entire route towards Pamplona. The first town we stopped to enjoy a coffee and lunch was Zubiri where a number of my fellow pilgrims decided to end their day which was ~25kms. Francesco and I discussed going on for another 25kms to Pamplona. One fellow pilgrim, Steve, I had met within this group the first evening arriving in St. Jean and to the Pilgrim Office to check in had already arrived to the lunch spot. We joined him. He just so happened to have some pain in his hip and elected to hail a cab from Zubiri to Pamplona. Francesco and I both agreed we felt good and after a brief lunch and espresso we bid farewell to the group and expressed our hope in seeing them again along the way in another town. We would join Steve at the Albergue later that evening in Pamplona.
Off to Pamplona for the California and the Italian. Speaking little to no Italian I lead with Spanish when speaking with Francesco. His Spanish is about the same intermediate level as mine so we could easily communicate. As we walked I began to learn that Francesco spoke far more English than he lead on and we communicated both in English and Spanish. Just a few hours into our walk we were almost entirely speaking English. He just needed a reminder of the language. Europeans always seem to think they know far less English than they really do.
We had a great day! Most of it full of sunshine, some muddy trails and great views. We spoke of home, our families and friends, our love of motorcycles and what kind we both have currently. We also discussed our home cities. For Francesco, Torino is home. He has successful, easily so, that I must visit Torino some day in the near future. It is officially on the bucket list now.
As we worked our way through the final 10kms both of us began to feel our feet growing warmer and warmer as the blood filled our feet and swelling became apparent. I felt my shoes getting tighter and my upper heels along my achilles tendons becoming raw and feeling bruised. Also at this time a small rain storm blew in and we slipped our ponchos on pressing forward to Pamplona. We could begin to make out a large city on the horizon around this time and we assumed it had to be Pamplona. This was around 6:30pm and we had approximately 90 minutes of daylight remaining.
Our conversation quickly changed to food and what we wanted to eat when we arrived to Pamplona. The snacks we had purchased at some of the small shops along the trail that day just weren´t going to satiate the hunger we had after such a long day. We began discussing pasta, pizza, vegetables, BBQ and desserts. Laughing and talking about how much we planned to eat once we arrived in Pamplona as we walked and the sun was falling to the horizon.
Why is it that the finals kms are so hard? It wasn´t quite the "Ironman shuffle", but it may have well been because I was feeling like a snail and my shoes were no longer comfortable. This is the point when I realized that walking long distances is harder than running long distances. Why? Just think about the number of steps taken between the two. There you will find the answer.
The final kms were on the asphalt and sidewalks within the city limits of Pamplona. We could see the tall cathdral and walls around it near the city center. As it is with most of the Albergues that we stay at along the Camino they are near these religious buildings. We followed the Camino markers toward the city center to arrive to the Albergue after dark. Steve was there awaiting our arrival. We checked in, dropped our bags, asked for a restaurant recommendation that had pasta and pizza on the menu and off we went to Plaza del Castillo to an Italian restaurant. Without a shower or change of clothes we were welcomed into a fancy, tourist friendly restaurant. As we were walked back to our table we breezed and hobbled past the open kitchen (Toscany style) seeing the massive pizzas the staff were preparing. I didn´t even need to see a menu at that moment. We ordered up some pizzas, olives and wine. I discovered that Francesco was a vegetarian at that time while discussing the menu and many pizza options. It was a good feeling to know I had found a friend with a healthy lifestyle to enjoy the Camino with.
After devouring our pizzas we headed back across Plaza del Castillo to the Alburgue past the famed cafe of Ernest Hemmingway. Straight to the shower and preparing for bed we met our fellow bunkmates from Barcelona. Some cute latinas on holiday for Easter walking from Pamplona for just a few days. Ear plugs in and off to bed...