Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.
~ Ed Viesturs
We continue on the 2nd day of our Camino through the fog with the chilling rain cold on the fingers.
Keep smiling! Here’s one for Liz’s blog called Fashion Backwards. Click link to see what that is all about!
Roland, commander of the rear guard of Charlemagne’s army, was defeated by the Basques in 778. It was fought here in Roncevaux Pass, a high mountain pass in the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain. While oral tradition has the Christians defeating Muslims, both sides, actually, were Christian. ~Wikipedia
Decision time… take the longer, but easier, hike along the highway or this steep trail risking a tumble down the path.
We opt for the steeper trail and Joan is the lone highway hiker of our group and we hope she doesn’t get lost. It’s raining, the trail is difficult and I just plain forget to snap a shot, so the camera stays in the pouch. (Image above from rscottd13.blogspot.com) It is a tough descent down to the village and I find it helpful to grab tree branches (tip from another hiker at the top) to keep from sliding down.
Challenging, but worth it for the colorful view.
Slugs were plentiful on the trail and were quite entertaining, serving as a good excuse for a rest break.
We arrive at our destination, Albergue Roncesvalles, and hope for a bed. The available beds fill up quickly so the slow pokes may not be in luck. We are able to score enough beds in the newer three floor albergue which is set up in cubicles of 2 bunk beds each. 183 beds total. They open the old church albergue for overflow (120 beds) and some will be sleeping in little box-like houses resembling fish houses near the grounds. Unfortunate pilgrims arriving too late are forced to either sleep outside or keep moving on down the trail.
In order to help pilgrims crossing the Pyrenees along the St James’ Way, around 1127, the Bishop of Pamplona, requested by King Alfonso I ‘the Battler’, founded the Roncesvalles Hospitality Institution.
Now, it’s time to sign up for the Pilgrim meal so we can be assured that our evening is complete.
We take time to visit this small early Gothic chapel, The Chapel of Holy Spirit, built in the XII century. It is the oldest building in Roncesvalles.
Some legends state that the Frankish warriors killed in the battle of Roncesvalles in 778 were buried here and that fact was the reason to build that chapel. Some scientists and researchers say that is very doubtful and the Chapel of Holy Spirit was built in XII century. Pilgrims and Augustinian canons that died in Roncesvalles used to be buried here. ~ Virtual Tourist
We attend the Collegiate Church Pilgrim Mass at 6 p.m. to see what that is all about. Built in the XIIIth century, pews filled up quickly plus people stand all around the back. Air in the chapel is damp and chills to the bone after walking in the cold rain.
The stairwells are open between floors so we hear fun conversations (In other languages) upstairs in the kitchen until light must go out. It’s time to settle in for the long night and by now expect to be lulled to sleep by a serenade of snores. I’ve been told that I am also a member of that choir.
Tomorrow we begin day three.