On top of the world… and border patrol?

“ The mountain is eight miles up, and eight miles down the other side, and seems to touch the sky. Climb it and you’ll feel you could push the sky with your hand.”

-Codex Calixtinus, ca. 1139

Day two and we are still in France as we continue along the Camino de Santiago French Way through the Pyrenees.
2014CamHmmm… I wonder when we’ll reach the border of Spain?  We must have our passports handy so we can show them to the border patrol, right?

2014Cam-11dmvMeet our Norwegian Camino friend, Willie Nilsen.  Wonderful conversation including an insight into living within the Arctic Circle and Camino tips and bits.  (At first we thought he said “Willie Nelson” as in the country singer/songwriter which started a conversation of its own)

2014Cam-15dmvA concession stand in the middle of nowhere.

2014Cam-16dmvIt’s a living… Buen Camino!
2014Cam-19dmvYes, weather can change in a heartbeat as the fog envelops our path.

2014Cam-10dmvcrOur clear day has turned to pea soup fog.

2014Cam-12dmvThus, the view from the top isn’t necessarily the best for the Catholic pilgrims adding a stone and a prayer to this shrine of the Virgin Mary .

camno1-3shrineThe above image from sectionhiker.com shows the view on a clear day.  Tough luck for us, but life isn’t perfect and we are accustomed to that. We are just thankful for each injury free step that we take.

Now, where is that border?  I see a flag ahead…

2014Cam-28dmvRandy and Bryon seem to breeze through the border checkpoint without any problems!  Guess I can put my passport away.

2014Cam-26plclThank you, fellow pilgrim, for taking our group photo as we enter Spain!  As you can tell by the Sherpas, rain has settled in for the day.

Loving this and smiling…


We “sheepishly” begin Camino Day #2…

stage 1 camino ele_st.jeanWe leave Orisson , but not before observing a beautiful sunrise with clouds caressing the valley.

View from orrisontimeline1

2014Cam-7crpopWe have opted for the Napoleon route which is more challenging but especially scenic, if the fog doesn’t hinder our view.

2014Cam-2pldmvcr2Horses are free to graze along the road and hillside.

2014Cam-4pldmvcr…and sheep allow us to tread through their turf, as well.

2014Cam-6pldmvcrThe video below is a short insight into our time spent sharing the path with sheep.   ding, ding, ding…  Heard bells much of the morning.

2014Cam-17pldmvcrInteresting to note that the flock has a definite leader. I can understand the references to sheep more than 500 times in the Bible to help us understand concepts and human behavior.  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27

2014Cam-21dmvWhen you share the path with sheep and horses, you have to expect to watch your step!  This is probably why boots are not allowed near the beds in the albergues!

We are enjoying the mild, but cool, temps as we trudge along.  However, we must continue to be aware that the Pyrenees are known for unpredictable weather.  We were previously told of helicopters having to rescue injured pilgrims on this stretch…  Yikes!

Day #1 from St. Jean… Can we really do this?

A restless night filled with anxiety. Dreams of falling off a mountain. ARE WE INSANE?
stage 1 camino ele_st.jeanOur destination for the day is Orisson. We opted to book our first night at Refuge Orisson instead of trying to do the entire 27.1 kilometer Napoleon Route over to Roncesvalles in one day. The first day seems to always be the hardest and combined with the steep grade would make the route to Roncesvalles miserable.  We choose not to be miserable as we don’t want to suffer that much!

2014Cam-1060805Visions of streets filled with noisy people starting their Camino de Santiago experience were quickly dashed.  Where is everybody?  Are we the last ones to leave?

2014Cam-1060821dmvThe St. Jean Farewell Committee on duty.

2014Cam-1060820pophpWe see a few stray backpackers, look down and there it is!  The shell…  We will see several shells in the next couple of weeks, but none as fancy as this until Santiago.  Note the French wording, “Jacques.”

2014Cam-1060818Follow the arrow!

2014Cam-1060833 The views become spectacular as we ascend the increasingly steep path.

2014Cam-1060837dmvRandy finds a new friend. If only he had brought along an ear of corn…

2014Cam-1060854Ding, ding, ding chimes the cowbell in the distance.

2014Cam-1060861dmvBreathtaking scenery and the path is challenging but not painful.

2014Cam-1060868dmvWe are not alone as we find walking mates throughout the day from Columbia/Miami, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Canada and Spain, to name a few. Columbia/Miami on the far left is doing the Camino on bicycle.

2014Cam-1060871dmvDoing A-O.K. and enjoying the view.

2014Cam-1060877View from my path location to the path below as a small group of hikers rest and chat.

2014Cam-1060883The climb becomes more difficult as we labor towards our destination.

2014Cam-1060884Yes!  Can’t see it yet, but it’s always comforting to have hope and the guidance of a sign.

2014Cam-1060885Ah-h-h-h….  There it is. Refuge Orisson consists of this albergue building and across the road is a terrace including tables from which we can enjoy a spectacular view of the valley.  All beds are booked and they are filling up the back yard with tents. Eighteen beds (bunk) in three rooms, two toilets, showers and a bar with food downstairs.  Who could ask for more?

2014Cam-1060890Boots are not allowed in the rooms so we park them here.  We are in a room with three bunk beds so one poor soul from Sweden will be joining us in the snoring chorus tonight.

We watch some wet Pilgrims arrive later as the rain drizzles down on them.  We are thankful to have arrived early enough to beat the rain.

Now we must make sure we are signed up for the evening Pilgrim meal and rest so that we can stay awake during the meal. I will be using the video features of my camera tonight so stay tuned for the results!