Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jan 25, 2015: Alfaro to Tudela 24.6 K

This interrupted the flat terrain

Today was going to be an early start. Robin and I were determined to be on the road before 9:00. Breakfast at our hotel started at 7:00 so that helped us along. As we were enjoying our first cup of coffee in the breakfast room a man walked in carrying a long case. My first thought was that we would soon be enjoying a string sonata with our coffee, but then no that was not to be. Upon closer inspection it was not an instrument case but a gun case. I thought what an odd thing to bring to breakfast, but perhaps gun owners suffer from separation anxiety as well. Anyhow it just goes to show you what can run through your mind as you are trying to roll the shell off a hard boiled egg. We finished, paid our bill, and headed out into the cold morning half light watching the trees swaying in the strong NW'ly wind that was making the day feel a lot colder than the 35 F our weather app quoted. We wound our way through the quiet streets and finally got lined up on a street that would take us to the next town 4 K away. Away we went. Almost immediately the bark of rifle fire could be heard. Whatever the locals were after the hunt was definitely on. For most of the morning gunshots broke the silence of our walk. I started thinking I had better keep my hiking poles down. I wouldn't want to go for a big stretch, raise my poles, and be mistaken for a black horned "pilgabeast" inviting a volley of "Hail Mary" fire from afar. So poles down, crouching forward we moved cautiously along. Eventually the rifle shots faded and the crunch of our boots on the gravel path was the only sound we heard (apart from the howl of the wind).

From whence we came

We hauled into the hard scrabble town of Castejón around 9:15. This is a town built close aboard the rail line that seems to offer nothing more than that. We quickly moved through the Sunday morning silent streets until we picked up our path out of town (and alongside the rail line once again) and resumed our heading eastbound. The wind was really the weather story for today. Yes, it was cold, but the wind just kept pushing and shoving us around like passengers on a crowded subway. Over the course of the day it gradually grew in strength and by early afternoon it was blowing a steady 25 mph with gusts considerably higher. Our track today being mostly eastward put the wind on our right hand quarter. Most of the time it just shoved us along with a bit of side to side stuff thrown in for good measure. At one point just outside of Tudela we had to alter course towards the southwest, and the wind had some fun with us. We were head down and leaning into it as our progress ground to dead slow ahead. We held this course for about a 100 meters, but it seemed like a lifetime as we fought to find one step and then another. When we finally were able to swing back to the southeast it dawned on us how challenging a day's walk would be heading westbound to Santiago in these winds.

To thence we go

One other thing of note was the change of terrain. This morning's walk played out in the same flat agricultural fields we have been walking through for the last few days. By the afternoon we were seeing river valley (Ebro River) terrain with raised mesas. In any event it was a pleasant change as we followed the swollen (and hard running Ebro River) towards Tudela. We made our final approach to the city on a gravel road where the gusting winds spun cyclones of dust around our feet and the river rushes waved frantically in the wind as if applauding our arrival. It was in this celebratory mood that we arrived cold and dusty at 1:30. Our hotel, the Hotel Santamaría, is very close to the Camino, and has great heat (very important for converting the room into a laundry, which we did). Robin and I are now planning tomorrow's walk over a glass of wine. I know I am not up for 36 K in conditions similar to today's. We shall probably catch a taxi out off town to give us a jump start on our walk to Gallur, our next stop. We shall see what the weather is like in the morning, and make our decision then, but that is where the smart money is tending at the moment. Beautiful day.

The terrain begins to change
My girl
Rio Ebro bank full
Camino Ignaciano orange arrow
Approaching Tudela



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