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!