June 12, 2007

6/12/07 Villanua Spain

Even with a room all to myself, I couldn't sleep late. Guess my internal alarm clock is permanently wired to pilgrim time. [laugh]

A gorgeous day ahead

As I left the hostel, I shouldn't have been surprised that it was a bit on the cool side, especially since I am in the mountains.

Walked the seven kilometers on the road back to where the Camino heads for Jaca. After that, the whole way was on backwoods roads where I could hear the rushing water of the River Aragon even over the traffic noise. I thought it would warm up, but clouds kept it cool enough, I amost but my jacket back on.

Following the River Aragon

Another beautiful day

Passed fewer pilgrims today. But one Frenchman told me he had started from Rome almost 3 months ago. Wow. Actually passed more Spanish pilgrims than most other days.

Jaca was a bit of a surprise. Turns out there are two Caminos through Jaca: The traditional one cuts through the center of town going by the cathedral. A newer one skirts the entire city along a parkway overlooking the river. When I asked for directions, that's the one I was directed to. Too bad, it might have been nice to see some of the city. Otherwise, the route I took was very peaceful.

Just 28km (17.3 miles) to go

Once out of the city, the Camino followed more of those back-country roads all the way to Villanua. There was some climbing and it was getting to get hot at times, but it was still a wonderful hike. Met a shepherd along the way who laughed when he said I was going the wrong way.

Quiet back-country roads

Along mountain streams

But always this towering over you

The only person I met all afternoon

Made it to Villanua about 2PM which wasn't bad for almost a 30km day. Maybe it was the mountains that gave me a boost. High above me since leaving Jaca was a high peak still with a little snow left on his shoulders. Mountains just have such presence.

There's just two of us here at the Refugio Triton near the city center. Nuncha just climbed down from Somport and is just going to Puenta la Reina due to vacation limits.

Villanua remind me a lot of the ski towns in the USA - lots of condos for people to stay in when they come to ski Candanchu at the top of the pass. Plus there is so much new construction, the town will soon be triple in size. But since it's not ski season, it's more a ghost town with very few locals living here all year.

Lots of new construction

I know I'm always going on about the aches and pains of the body, but haven't really talked much about my gear woes.

First, the solar panel would have been a good idea if there had been more sun. Next time, bring a wall charger as a backup.

Not sure why, but the MintyBost charger for my iPod stopped working. I still think it's the best idea, but maybe I need to look more at it's durability backpacking.

And a few days ago, the hip belt on my backpack tore completely away from the backpack. That's made carrying the pack a bit more fatiguing, especially as I come into the mountains. Definitely sending it back to REI.

But, today I broke my glasses. Sat on them in fact. The lenses are ok but the frames are shot. I just wasn't paying attention. But not much I can do about it now, so guess I'll be a little blind till I get home.

When I went for dinner, Nuncha was at the same restaurant, so I joined her. For the pilgrim menu, we weren't given a choice, just served. And it turned out wonderful. Besides the great food, Nuncha and I talked late into the night. Seems we were kindred spirits.