Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 64: What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Dscn4785bOctober 14: It rained hard overnight, pounding my tarp with a terrific noise waking me up several times during the night, but I stayed high and dry curled up under it and the rain stopped by morning. The ugly clouds continued to linger, however.

I packed up camp and headed out. Next stop: Muxia, one of two locations that pilgrims often walk to beyond Santiago. By all accounts, it’s the less popular of the two (the other being Finisterre). Most pilgrims I knew planned to stop walking in Santiago, but a large number of them intended to bus on to Finisterre. Even if they didn’t plan to walk it, they still felt compelled to push onward. But nobody—absolutely nobody I talked to seemed interested in visiting Muxia except Karolina and myself. If you’ve watched The Way, they filmed the ending in Muxia which I would have thought might give it some added pull for some people, but it hasn’t as far as I can tell.

Regardless, I wasn’t expecting much myself—just another milestone along my journey to Finisterre. A big one, though. =)

I pulled on my pack, popped on my iPod and marched to the sea.

I had long since hiked off the edge of my map shortly past the fork in the trail leading to Finisterre and Muxia and was hiking blind at this point, dependent on the waymarks to guide my way, so I was a little surprised when I crested over a small hill and saw the ocean just a couple of kilometers away. Although I had no maps, I did know the distances between landmarks and towns on the trail, and Muxia was further away than that. I had assumed the trail would hit the coast at Muxia, but it didn’t. It hit the coast north of Muxia, then followed a series of roads southward towards Muxia with wonderful views the entire way. The trail itself didn’t actually touch the ocean here—it just wound through the coastal towns, and I had no desire to get off the trail to get to the ocean. I’d get to it when the trail was ready to take me to it. In the meantime, I enjoyed the wonderful views the trail did provide of the ocean.

Another hour later, the trail ducked through some eucalyptus trees to a boardwalk through the sand, a beach just outside of Muxia, and I stopped. The view took my breath away. I could see the town, set on a peninsula jutting out into the ocean, with a cute little harbor filled with boats in front and a nice little hill rising up behind it. Wow. I really had no expectations when I arrived in Muxia, never having really seen any photos about it or even heard much about it, and the stunning beauty of the area took my breath away.
I stood there, just looking, tearing up, for a minute or so. I was here! At the Atlantic Ocean! I had made it! I didn’t expect to get so sentimental—I still planned to hike all the way out to Finisterre. My hike wasn’t over yet, after all! But this felt like the end of the trail for me. Santiago was a major milestone to be sure, but this was the end. The real end. Maybe if I walked to Finisterre first, I’d have felt like Finisterre was the real end, but standing there within stone’s throw of the Atlantic Ocean, that feeling of having reached the end of the trail overwhelmed me.

I set my pack down on the boardwalk to keep it out of the sand, threw my trekking pole into the air in celebration and walked out on the beach, running my fingers through the sand and the surf. When was the last time I had touched the Atlantic Ocean? I couldn’t remember. Hiking through the Florida Keys, perhaps? In 2008? I picked up some rocks to throw and skip into the Atlantic.

I went back to the boardwalk, sitting on its edge and took more photos. I spent about a half hour there, just admiring the view, feeling a little reluctant to keep going and actually finish my hike. I really didn’t want my hike to end just yet.

When I got up to continue, my iPod started playing a Kelly Clarkson song I had downloaded (for free—legally!) just before I started my hike which had a catchy, upbeat tune and a refrain about “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… Stand a little taller! Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone…” It somehow seemed immensely appropriate for the end of a 1000-mile walk, and I set my iPod to keep playing it over and over.

I walked into Muxia, swinging my trekking pole around wildly in tune with the music, feeling on top of the world. I didn’t stop in town, except long enough to take the occasional photo, pushing through towards the harbor and walking out to the end of the jetty protecting the harbor. The view of town from the tip wasn’t as nice as I had hoped for, but that was because it put the sun directly behind the town and really muted all of the color of the town.

But I was still on top of the world and that wasn’t going to get me down. No, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It must be true—it’s right in the song! =)
I still wanted to climb up to the top of that hill behind the town, though. I saw a map of the town while walking into it which looked like it had a trail leading to the top of the hill from the end of the peninsula, so I started following a road in that direction.

I passed a nice little church, which was just getting out and edged around the side and out of the way of all the people exiting it. I passed a couple of small houses—wondering how they ended up out there all by themselves.

Then I turned a corner and stumbled into a jaw dropping view of a magnificent church overlooking enormous waves crashing against equally giant boulders that made up the shore line. I gasped audibly in surprise, having no idea that that was there. Above and to the side of it was a rock monument that looked like an enormous slab of rock with a jagged crack through the center. Clearly a man-made construction, and I had no idea what it represented, but the sheer size of it fascinated me. The whole view was overwhelming, but in a good way, that that feeling that I really reached the end of the trail hit me again. I might keep hiking for another day to Finisterre, but Muxia was really the end of the trail.

I took more photos, then found the trail leading up to the top of the hill overlooking town—fantastic views. I threw my arms in the air, punching my fists in the air, doing a little jig of happiness with Kelly Clarkson. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….

Eventually I came back down from my high, both figuratively and literally, and walked back into Muxia where I stopped at a restaurant for lunch. The restaurant had wi-fi available, which I used to check my email and booked a hotel room in Finisterre for the next night.

Leaving town, I was a little sad. As much as I wanted to stay the night, I was still drawn to Finisterre. What if it was even better than Muxia? After all, that’s where nearly everyone who continues past Santiago winds up going—not Muxia! Nope, I wanted to keep going. Finisterre or bust!
Leaving town, I let my iPod start playing other music now. Looking back at Muxia, I was a little disappointed with the views. On the way out of town, the harbor and “downtown” area were out of view on the other side of the peninsula. This side was kind of plain and boring by comparison—rather anti-climatic compared to the view I had going into town. I passed a few people straggling in, having walked all the way from Finisterre that afternoon, and felt a little sorry that their first view of Muxia was from the “wrong” direction. But they’d see the nice views soon enough. =) And really, it was a nice view from this direction—just a little boring compared to the phenomenal views from the other direction!

I walked for a couple of hours out of town, eventually setting up camp between Guisamonde and Frixe in a field that didn’t seem to be used for anything at the moment. I set up my tarp again—rain was still in the forecast, and condensation would likely be an issue regardless.

Somewhere near Muxia, I passed the 1,000-mile mark of my hike. Not that anyone paid attention to miles in Europe—at the end of the day, I had calculated, I had walked 1627.4 kilometers. Knowing that something like 1.61 kilometers was 1 mile, it was easy to figure out I needed to pass 1610 (or so) kilometers to equal 1000 miles, and I was now 17.4 kilometers passed that.

I wrote in my journal and read my book until it was too dark to see, then I laid back and listened to my iPod until I fell asleep for the night.

I’m not really sure what this is. It looks like a machine built to
pump trash into a trash can, but what?

I’ve reached the Atlantic Ocean! That’s Muxia in the background.
And the hill behind the town that I wanted to climb up.

Running my fingers through the surf. =)


A small church where services were just ending as I passed by.

This slab of cracked rock is obviously a monument of some sort,
but I don’t know what for or why. I found it strangely
hypnotic, though. =)

Stumbling onto this really took my breath away! The photo
doesn’t really do it justice, though. They never do. *sigh*

The harbor from the top of the hill behind Muxia. I first walked out to the point
on the left jetty when I got into town. =)

Muxia from above, and you can see the Atlantic Ocean surrounding it on both sides.
From the top, you can turn around and see yourself surrounded by the ocean
on three sides, but that’s much too wide of an angle for my camera to get!

I have no idea who this is. I just liked her silhouette against the rocks. =)

Walking back into Muxia after my trip to the tip of the peninsula.

Make up your minds—left or right?! =)
Actually, this section of trail has people walking in both directions.
For those waking from Finisterre to Muxia, they’ll to right.
For people like me walking from Muxia to Finisterre, we go left.

You see a lot of these raised stone structures used to keep corn or other
foodstuffs away from animals in Galicia. I’d wondered at first how
they got into them since there was no obvious way into them,
but this one had a ladder leading up to it. Ah-ha! =)
The very first photo of this blog entry has one of these raised
structure on the right side of the photo. Obviously, in this
photo, I was more interested in the ladder than I was the structure
itself. I like how it’s framed from under the structure! =)

Home, sweet, home. For tonight, at least. Late in the afternoon, the
weather actually started to get nice! But it wasn’t expected to last very long….

Just because I know you wanted it. ;o)


Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said... don't really strike me as the Kelly Clarkson type.

Anonymous said...

I was intrigued by the cracked monument so I had to do some research..
"On a rocky point, near the small town of Muxia, a church commemorates the place where the Virgin Mary is said to have come ashore in a stone boat. Now there's a new monument at the holy site -- a massive rock sculpture depicting the cracked hull of the oil tanker, the Prestige, that sank off this coast in November 2002, causing one of the worst oil spills in history."

Jenn AKA MushrooM

Sue KuKu said...

"I had long since hiked off the edge of my map. . ."

And you didn't die? I thought the edge of maps were dangerous. You know, "Here be dragons."