Saturday, February 7, 2015

Feb 7, 2015: Tàrrega to Panadella 28.2 K

Today began with a look at the weather forecast. It showed the current temperature in Tàrrega as 31 F with an expected high of 44. This was much improved over yesterday so I opted to leave my long underwear and vest in my pack for today's walk. Part of my thinking was we would be doing more climbing today so lighter gear should be okay. We set off and, once clear of the city, we walked through a beautiful narrow valley. Up on many high points, along the way, were villages clustered around medieval fortress ruins. Quite striking in the early morning light. The valley itself felt intimate as the hills drew near about us. This is their first time since the Basque Country where we have seen this kind of terrain. The pleasant and dramatic scenery helped us enjoy the morning as we walked very briskly along trying to keep warm. As it turned out Tàrrega might be at 31, but my backpack thermometer registered 19 in the valley, as we waited for the sun to warm the day. Gotta keep moving. The trail from Tàrrega to Cervera was actually a rural paved road, where we were able to make very good time (remember the 19 degree factor). We climbed up into this hilltop town and pulled over at the only bar we saw open in the plaza in front of the church. It was definitely carajillo time. Orujo or cognac was the question from the lady behind the bar. I thought for a brief moment about a shot of each, but then there would be no room for the coffee. Nothing is easy. We settled on the cognac and soon some heat was flowing through the frozen extremities of our bodies. The sun was climbing higher into the sky, and the bitter cold of our departure was now a thing of the past. We thanked our bar lady who had squeezed us into her very small bar with a very hot heater (It was more like a double wide phone booth than a bar), and started our steep descent from the hilltop. As we were gawking at the view we picked up the distant sounds of drums. It was faint but persistent. Perhaps a local garage band warming up? Not exactly. As we swung around the perimeter of the town we spotted a group of young guys atop a parapet practicing with their drums. It was great. The sound of those drums continued to roll down the valley floor long after we left Cervera.

Climbing was in our profile today, nothing serious but still it had to be done. As it turned out most of the climbing was through left over snow that due to our now higher elevation was still on the ground. So we stomped through some drifts, and back slid along slick patches, and generally had to concentrate to keep moving forward. There were also many icy sections today that reminded us how easy it could be to have an end of Camino fall. We proceeded with caution, and appreciated the few bare spots the afternoon sun offered up. Our destination today was the town of La Panadella 28.2 K from Tàrrega. We hopped a ride cross town from our hostal in Tàrrega so I'm estimating we probably walked 24 K today. As the afternoon wore on and we made our final course change to head for Panadella we found ourselves facing a long moderate climb through snow. This dragged on for about 45 minutes, but felt a lot longer. We topped our hill to see a large sign identifying the town. Day was now done, at least the walking part. We have returned to Cervera to spend the night at a hostal, and will return in the morning to Panadella to walk on to Igualada. We did see a truck stop hostal in Panadella so that would be an option for an overnight. Right now, Robin and I are in our room cozying up to a small space heater for warmth, waiting for our laundry to finish. Three more days to go. St. Ignatius pray for us.

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