Friday, December 7, 2012

Day 44: The Trekking Pole Twirl

Dscn3013bSeptember 24: Not surprisingly, I was the last person to leave the alburgue in the morning. The rain stayed away all night and the ground was fairly dry considering how much rain it soaked up the day before, but I was just happy not to have to walk in rain anymore. At least not in my immediate future. =)

The first few kilometers out of town were a disappointing road walk, but then the trail went off onto a dirt road and things were wonderful again. No vehicles driving past, no hard asphalt to walk on, and still separated from the main path post people followed. For the entire day, I saw only about half a dozen pilgrims along the route, and two of them were Nancy and Tom who I shared a room with overnight.

This section, my guidebook tells me, is classified as "the most perfect extant stretch of Roman road left in Spain today" and that "we follow in the footsteps of Emperor Augustus himself but he will have travelled with a retinue of servants not available to a humble pilgrim."

Late in the afternoon, I caught up with Andrew from Manchester and a German girl whose name I never learned, but she knew who I was. Not my name, but she knew I was “the guy who twirled around his trekking pole” while walking along the trail. This really amused me because it was totally true. The ground is so flat, it seems like more people carry their trekking poles in their packs rather than use them. Me? I don’t do that. I don’t want the weight of my trekking pole in my pack. So I continue carrying it, but I really don’t need it, so I’ll swing it around in the air, balance the end of it on my hand, and generally make a toy out of it. I never really did this on other hikes since the trails were always steeper and more strenuous, or I’d have to whack my way through overgrown trail, or I’d use it to clear the trail ahead of me of cobwebs. It had a purpose, but on this trail, I almost never needed or wanted it. So I turned it into a toy. I didn’t realize anyone had taken such an interest in my trekking pole twirl, though. I usually refrained from it when others were nearby. I didn’t want to accidently whack anyone with my pole as I threw it into the air and lost control. =)

There were a couple of confusing, poorly-marked turns that had Andrew, the German girl, and myself scratching our heads a bit, but we muddled through without any wrong turns. My biggest fear wasn’t getting lost—it was accidentally walking into Reliegos and wound up on the crowded road walk. No, I wanted to stay on the remote alternative path all the way into Mansilla de las Mullas, even if it did pass a giant prison.

Dscn3014bBut all-in-all, it was an uneventful day of hiking. I checked into the municipal alburgue. I was tempted to look for a place to camp, but the map ahead didn’t look promising for good places to camp. A lot of road walking along a busy highway, and a chance of rain was definitely in the forecast.

In the alburgue, I shared a room with a young couple from Vancouver, Canada, and when I introduced myself, the girl asked if I was the “Ryan from Seattle” she had heard about. She seemed quite excited to meet me, even though I had absolutely no idea who she was.

“I heard about you!” she told me. “There’s a Polish girl looking for you!”

“Ah, you crossed paths with Karoline too, did you?” I asked. “Have you seen her recently?”

“Is that her name? Karolina? But no, I haven’t met her. I heard that she was looking for you from someone else!”

Wow, word really gets around. =) And then I realized I’d probably get getting this message over and over again until I finished my hike, whether or not I ever found Karolina. There aren’t any off switches for these kinds of messages. But Karolina would stay MIA. At least for today….

Another hiker loses a boot. You see a lot of lost boots on the trail…..

One pilgrim who died on the trail they buried here.
Just kidding… I have no idea what this little heap
of rocks represents. (Although it could very well be
a memorial for a pilgrim who died, but if it is, I
didn’t see any signage about it.)

A lot of people call this scenery boring, but I beg to differ.
It’s beautiful in its own, stark way! So much flatness!

The rain stayed away today, but the clouds grew increasingly
thick throughout the day and a chance of rain was in the forecast.

Whew—my backpack weighed only 12.5 tons. I barely
cleared the weight limits! I feel bad for that
pilgrim on the truck’s hood, though….

I’m not sure what this plant was for. Sand to turn into concrete?
Road-making materials? The trackers were adding more to the pile,
though, whatever it was for.

A statue of a pilgrim in Mansilla de las Mullas.

More camino art in Mansilla de las Mullas.

The medieval fortifications around the town, including a moat
(without the water). 

I'm not a smoker, but I was fascinated by these ashtrays made out of soda cans.
Perhaps I should create the "TheSodaCanAshtray" website to compliment
my real website. =)


Michael Merino said...

"At least for today…." The plot thickens.

Goofy girl said...

judging by the stark landscape I would almost say you were hiking in Oklahoma... but the other sites are definitely not in Oklahoma.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is a way to turn the stove into an ashtry and get a "2for1" deal!

Trek on pilgrim.......