Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 55: A Leisurely Walk

Dscn4170bOctober 5: It was a beautiful day for hiking! I woke up to fog and a heck of a lot of condensation, though. Two of the Australian girls got early starts and were hiking before sunrise. The other three left after sunrise, at their own pace. I was, not surprisingly, the last to leave camp. =)

The trail out of camp climbed a small hill and no more than 100 feet up, we that pushed through the fog to blue skies.

In the middle of the afternoon, I stopped to dry out my ground sheet, tarp and sleeping, throwing them out in the sun in an empty field of grass. I read my Kindle for a half hour as other pilgrims walked past, then repacked my gear and continued on.

In Ligonde, I stopped for a break thinking I had another hour or so to hike into Palas de Rei where the Australian girls were planning to meet up before finding a place to camp. So far as I knew, the two girls who left before sunrise were still ahead of me. The other three, I was pretty certain, were still behind me, but they might have passed me when I had my nose in the Kindle or was lounging around with my eyes closed. How would I know? So I wanted to make sure to get into Palas de Rei to join the girls again for camping. The nice thing about camping with five other people was that I really only had to find //one// of them to get together with the entire group again. =) When I camped with Karolina, I was somewhat paranoid I’d lose track of her and never find her again. (A paranoia that, as it turned out, had some merit!) With five Australians all walking at their own pace, I was always bound to find at least one or two of them throughout the day.

Nancy and friends—who I met the day before—were there and about to leave as I arrived, and someone had asked how far it was to Palas de Rei. The answer: 10 kilometers.

I turned around. “What?!” Seriously? We couldn’t be that far away! That would make it a solid two hours of walking away! I’d been walking a lot slower than I thought I was! I cut my rest short and continued hiking. Just in case there weren’t any Australians still behind me, I didn’t want to show up in Palas de Rei late!

I arrived in Palas de Rei two hours later, and took a quick detour to a supermarket for supplies. As I walked through town, I kept my eyes open for the Australians knowing they’d be hanging around somewhere. Then I heard, behind me and faintly, someone yelling, “Ryan!” I looked back and there was Kathy. Ah, good! My Australians! =) Although I was a little surprised I had walked past and didn’t see her earlier. Glad she saw me, though!

Dscn4172bWhen I saw where Kathy was sitting, I wasn’t surprised I missed her. A bit off trail, at a bar, that was hard to see between the cars. Jen was there as well, but she was inside on the Internet. Kathy took a table outside and acted as lookout to intercept any passing Australian buddies and myself. =)

“So where are the others?” Kathy asked me.

“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “The last time I saw them was probably 9:30 or so in the morning, maybe two kilometers out from where we camped.”

When I’m actually walking, I walk at a pretty good clip, and I knew Emily had two knees that were causing her problems. Everyone knew that since they were both wrapped up. She wasn’t walking fast, and I knew that I hadn’t passed them since 10 kilometers before. If anything, I stretched my lead over them. “It might be awhile before they arrive,” I told Kathy.

Jen finished up with the computer station inside and joined us outside, and we moved to some steps closer to the trail. The easier to intercept the other girls later. In the meantime, I started to cook dinner because, why not? I didn’t have anything better to do at the time. =)

I cooked dinner. I ate dinner. I cleaned up the dishes afterwards. And still the three Australian girls hadn’t arrived. Sunset was getting close, and our maps looked like we might have to walk a few kilometers out of town before we found any suitable places to camp. I really didn’t want to set up camp in the dark, and I told Kathy and Jen that I’d hike on ahead and find a suitable place to camp while it was still light out. When I found something, if it wasn’t in plain view of the trail, I’d leave a note or sign in the trail pointing the way.

As I picked up my pack, ready to head out, the other girls finally arrived. They still needed to resupply at the grocery store themselves, and I volunteered to watch their packs as they did so. Kathy and Jen went ahead to scout out a place to camp instead.

They did their grocery shopping, then I headed up the trail alone to catch up with Kathy and Jen. The other three stayed behind to eat some snacks and rest their feet for a few minutes more.

Dscn4185bI caught up with Kathy and Jen a couple of kilometers out of town as one of them was scrambling through the brush off the side of the trail. “No,” Kathy was saying, “there are homes back there.” Looking for a suitable place to camp, obviously. We walked a bit further down the trail where a dirt road led off to the right. We couldn’t see very far up the dirt road, but it seemed worth while to check out. It led away from the busy road we could hear on our left, and it looked like there weren’t any buildings or other man-made structures around. The girls volunteered to watch my pack as I jogged out on the dirt road to scout it out.

A couple of minutes later, I found a site that would fit all of us in the trees. It was a little dark among the trees, and the ground had a lot of small branches and debris that would need to be kicked out of the way, but the site would work in a pinch. I’ve camped in worse! =) I walked a bit further out onto the road, though, looking for better options, eventually coming to a fork in the road where a field had been cleared and looked absolutely wonderful. It was a little more exposed to anyone who happens to walk or drive past, however.

Regardless, either of those sites would be suitable. I jogged back to the girls waiting at the intersection, who—in my absence—apparently had a disturbing encounter with a local. I guess he thought they looked suspicious hanging out there, and they were quite happy when I returned. I reported my findings and said I’d like one of them to decide which of the two sites they’d prefer to camp at—in the trees but kind of dark, or in the open but where it was light and breezy. =) I picked up my pack and Kathy went with me. Jen stayed back, but tried to hide in some nearby bushes in case the strange man they saw earlier came back. She was to stay there to intercept the other Australian girls and let them know where we were camped when they caught up again.

“Basically,” I told her, “just follow the road. You can’t miss us, regardless of which site Kathy chooses. If, somehow, you miraculously do miss us, just don’t go past the fork in the road.”

Kathy looked at the first site, agreeing that it would work, but I pushed her onward to the cleared field and she definitely liked that one better. She started setting up her tent and I started setting up my tarp. It wasn’t supposed to rain overnight, but I wanted to set up my tarp anyhow because condensation the night before had been so terrible.

It was only about a minute before the rest of the girls joined us.

Once we were all settled, 50 Shades of Grey came back out, which they read aloud deep into the night. =)

Pilgrims rest and drink at the Casa Molar.

A new cigarette pack that I hadn’t seen before! =)

Attack of the GIANT ANTS!!!!

This is SOOO a weeping angel! I tell you,
if you’ve seen Blink, this little statue will
give you nightmares! =) Where is Doctor Who
when you need him?!

Another statue, outside of a church in Palas de Rei.


When I was taking this photo, a local started talking to me, telling
me all about the statue, and that the two people
were dancing. “Really? You don’t say!” =)

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