Wednesday, June 6, 2018 … 28 km … 17 miles
We have definitely left the Meseta and today is the day that confirms it. We head up to the highest point on the Camino. The highest elevation. It’s not like the first day where it is an incline for hours, but a short and steep incline.
We are currently at 1200m and we will climb to 1515m. This will take place during a 15 km walk. Even though it will be walking up and down dramatic height changes the views will be spectacular. One of my favorites on the Camino.
Along with the highest point and the views today we will reach Cruz de Ferro, the Iron Cross.
“The Iron Cross or Cruz de Ferro has several theories about it, but only one ritual. Some claim that the cross was erected to guide pilgrims, especially in the winter months, when the route can be obscured by snow. Others suggest that the cross originates from Roman times marking the border between territories. However, since the 11th century, the cross has been an important monument on the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims traditionally carry a stone with them from the start of their journey. The rock symbolizes the sins that the pilgrim has committed and the guilt and the burdens we all carry in life. By leaving the stone his stone, the pilgrim was leaving behind his sin, his guilt, his shame, and his burdens, thus walking more lightly onto Santiago, absolved of his mistakes in life.”Step by step camino journal
This is where we will take a moment, leave our stone and pray at this humble monument.
I woke to the hustle and bustle of the pilgrims. I no longer have to set my alarm due to hearing everyone else’s. The morning routine has become automatic. Wake, dress, bathroom time, pack, eat a light breakfast and head out the door. I sleep in my shirt that I will be wearing for the next day and yoga pants. So, all I have to do is slip on my pants, massage my feet and put my socks on and I am dressed. I have also learned I can do all this in the dark of the hostel. Way more relaxed than I was at the beginning of the Camino. Again, things are becoming automatic and comfortable.
We stepped outside, what is this nonsense! Cloudy and cold. Forty degrees with a wind chill in the mid-thirties.
On this stretch, the weather can change quickly. This cold front is rare in mid-June. Once we start walking our bodies will warm up and if the sun comes out, we will be fine.
We slowly make our way out of town, up the hill to Foncebadon.
Today was a great picture day, so there might be more pictures than words. Haha, you might like that better.
Five kilometers uphill and we will arrive in Foncebadón. This little mountain village was founded by the hermit Gaucelmo who erected a hospital of pilgrims between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The Camino is reawakening this little village. When I walked the Camino in 2013, there was only one café, hostel, and a street of run-down and abandoned houses. Today the street is being restored and offering more options.
This town is where we will stop for breakfast at a really nice café and mini grocery store, El Trasgu.
Cruz de Ferro
It’s only a short 2 kilometers to the Iron Cross from Foncebadon. Again, all uphill.
The path gets narrow at times and we seemed to be caught behind a group of new pilgrims. Their shoes were so bright and new, no mud, no wear, and tear. Some groups get dropped off in Foncebadon and walk to the Iron Cross. Then the bus picks them up at the Iron Cross and they move on to the next big monument along the Camino.
I think it’s great that people get to experience the Camino in their own way. But please be courteous to your fellow pilgrims and don’t walk in big groups and block the path.
We finally were able to pass and moved along the Camino. Buen Camino as we passed them!
Just then we got our first view of the Iron Cross. It took our breath away. Not the beauty of the cross, it’s a simple wooden pole with an Iron Cross on the top, it’s what it signifies. When you see the number of stones at the base and you realize how these were laid by fellow pilgrims, and what they symbolize. Wow! Also, we have been walking for twenty-five days and this is a big moment, yet a humbling moment.
We all took a moment and had our time at the cross. Busloads of pilgrims were arriving and we were trying to have some quiet time at the top.
As you walk the Camino, you see many inspirational quotes and writings on slate rocks, walls, signs, and more. Some are very good and speak to you. Here is one written by a fellow pilgrim and left at Cruz de Ferro.
“From this height, I can clearly see that what is behind is a distant memory … what lies ahead is full of uncertainty, but it’s in the present I am meant to be” ~RChapa 4/24/18
This village with a population of one was our next stop. Just 2.4 kilometers from the Iron Cross. It was another abandoned village until Tomas brought it back to life. Tomas is a modern Templar Knight. He offers a place to rest, snacks, shelter, hostel, and an outside toilet. A must-stop. A pilgrim’s hospital existed here in the 12th century which linked it to the Knights Templar.
We took this opportunity. The much-needed bathroom but I think I would have been better using the woods. Wow, the smell. Cookies and a quick visit with Tomas. Once we leave here, we have a short decline and then a steep incline. To the highest point along Camino.
We started towards the highest point. Spirits were high. This part of the Camino is so beautiful. As we made our way along this beautiful path, we laughed, had deep conversations, had quiet time, and sang a little. The fog was still hanging low, we hoped it would lift so we could get some beautiful views.
The fog lifted and the sun started to warm the day.
Lunch was starting to call my name, but we still had five kilometers to our next town of Acebo. Not only five kilometers but five kilometers of a steep decline. We had to be careful it was steep and very slippery. Loose rocks and dirt, my walking stick came in handy. There wasn’t much talk on this part because we all wanted to be careful, plus at this time we all were in different parts of the path.
The downhill just kept going.
As we arrived at Acebo, the first café on the right was the place to stop. It was full of pilgrims and it seemed like all of our pilgrim friends were there. The two Georges, Kelly, the original four, the baby family, and quite a few more! We all enjoyed our meals and enjoyed each other. Slowly one by one, everyone started walking again at their pace. Most of us were walking to Molinaseca.
We had made reservations in Molinaseca for tonight, we knew it was a long day and every day there were more and more pilgrims joining the walk. We didn’t want to take a chance of having no room on such a long day.
The rest of the day was downhill. But we still had another tricky steep descent into Molinaseca.
The last 8 km
Throughout the day we would be walking with others and then just us. It was a good day. The sun was warming us up and we just needed to make our way to our Hostel. We needed to arrive by 4. This is a tough day; the path is slippery and so it makes for a slow walking day. We arrived in our next town of Riego de Ambros around 1:30.
Just 4.7 to Molinaseca, but again a very tough decline down the mountain into the valley.
We started to walk at a faster pace because of the time. Not much talking just watching our feet and the path ahead of us. And yes! We have freshly picked cherries being offered by the locals. So good!
Yes, we made it to Molinaseca! It’s 3:15, let’s get to our Hostel.
Our hostel: Albergue de Santa Marina, 59 beds, 7 euros
So good to be at the Hostel, we checked in and did the normal stuff. Laundry, shower, and resting. I sat out on the patio and Kelly was there. We enjoyed some Vino together. It was a beautiful afternoon. We all decided to eat in town at a restaurant and get the pilgrim’s menu. Until then time to rest.
We had a great time exploring Molinaseca and dinner.
Another great day on the Camino!
Wednesday, June 6th … Rabanal to Molinaseca, 28 km … 17 miles
Cloudy/Sun and Cold
Long day with the downhill into Molinaseca. We are getting stronger in body, spirit, and mind. Today we passed the Iron Cross. I left my stone along with my friend Maggies. I had been carrying Maggies and praying for her intentions along the way. So thankful for the letters my friends from Church have written me. Each day, I open one and read it. Usually crying, but they give me strength. Then I discard as to not carry the extra weight.
As I left my stone, I felt a wave of lightness spread through my body. I felt a freshness come over me. Tears were flowing and I left everything at the foot of the cross.
As I walked away, I remembered the words Jesus spoke to his disciples. “wipe your feet and walk away” I did just this. Let go and let God take care of everything.
I was floating.
Meanwhile, as I write in my journal, I am brought back to the world. Why do men have to walk around in their underwear? Come on put some pants on.
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