An amazing day! Somehow I've managed to do 20 kms and 30,000 steps according to Fitbit. This device is confused; it still registers Australian time so I have to add 6 hours to its reading!
I left the lovely Hotel Europa at 8.15 after a delicious breakfast of fruits, coffee and the Spanish delicacy of mild cream cheese w quince paste. It promised to be a super day: typical Autumn weather. It was sunny and warm and still, with Autumn scents in the air. Blackberry canes lined the route, but the berries were small and wizened. Rose hips and sloes were better, but nobody was making sloe gin or rosehip syrup. The fields were bare of their crops, many just ploughed for next year. There was a steady stream of pilgrims going out of Pamplona, past the green parks of the university campus and up to the first stop of Cizur Menor. At 9.45 am, I stopped for a coffee, then pressed on.
It was a day when every pilgrim en route passed me, but they were mostly younger and fitter! The only person I passed was a guy carrying as much weight around his waist as J Sinclair plus an enormous backpack and beard! I never saw him again.
I was looking forward to a stop at the Romanesque church of Zareiquiqui, and stopped to take photo of its door and a French woman resting outside. My memories of this place were that there were no facilities whatsoever but now I was delighted to find a new Albergue and a bar. A beer was just what I needed to fortify me for the climb! (A Frenchwoman said not to have any alcohol till I reached my destination! I said it will give me strength to get there). There was an enormous dog flat out on the pavement while its owners were enjoying their refreshment but giving it nothing.
I finally reached the Alto de Perdon at 3.00 pm. Everyone had gone and even the man with the refreshment van was about to leave! I struggled a bit on the stony downhill track onto Uterga, wishing I had sent on my pack with Jacotrans. I made it to the Uterga Albergue where I had stayed before. This time it was full so I had to settle for a place 2.7 kms on. It was my lucky day when one of the staff was just going home and she agreed to drop me off on her way to Puente la Reina. So I managed to get to Murutzabel without a complete collapse!