Today we hiked in the clouds. Ascending and descending the steep mountain trails, we found ourselves on paths shrouded in fog, at times listening to birdsong and the bells of sheep and cows. Sometimes the mist cleared enough for us to meet the source of this mountain music, but for many hours, we walked to the rhythm of the land and our own movement up, then down the Pyrenees that separate France and Spain.
Eventually the rain began. These are the peaks celebrated for their majestic landscape and views, but today, we saw only what was right before our eyes. Occasionally I had to put my glasses in my pocket, so I could see the path in front of me, the mist and water drops so heavy. About halfway up, a food truck met hikers, who greeted the Frenchman selling hot beverages, water, bananas and hard boiled eggs, with relief and gratitude.
From Orisson, we sent our backpacks to our destination, Roncesvalles, in Spain, about 18 km ahead, carrying only a daypack with essentials. Because of this light load, I found the hike to be fairly easy with cool weather and only the slippery rocks a bit challenging. The uphills left me breathless at times and the kilometers of downhills almost welcome. This wasn’t a photo shoot. Once in a while, I snapped a picture, but most of the time, I felt part of the landscape, in the clouds, one with nature. Time to live in the present, mindful of each step and sound. I have rarely walked in the silence and song of the mountains with my camera in my bag and the land guiding me around each bend and up and down the trail. What a privilege to see the essence of the Pyrenees.
We crossed from France to Spain high up the mountain somewhere near a Help station with the surprise of free Wifi. As we descended the steep path, sun began to shine and we entered Roncesvalles, Spain, and the monastery that now houses a beautifully designed Albergue on the Camino. Sparkling, clean showers and comfortable bunks welcome tired Pilgrims. And we met new friends at our Pilgrim dinner, received a Blessing at the Pilgrim mass and shared our hopes, dreams and fears. Laughter and easy friendship are part of the hike and creation of a “Camino Family,” so walking solo at our own pace or with new friends, gives time for needed solitude, as well as camaraderie. The Camino Provides.