Views from lower levels of Pyrenees


Steps: 12046

Elevation: 800m

Distance 11.2 km

Walking time: 4 hours


Breakfast: €2

Coffee: €2.60

Accommodation: €33

Daily total: €37.60

Cumulative total: €94

Dear Diary

Like the geckos on the rock face, I am sitting here in the sun just enjoying the warmth. I finally got to Orisson refuge. There is nothing for me to do now. I’ve unpacked, showered, organised my bed, washed my clothes and checked my feet. 

Feet is number one important thing in the camino. 

You’ve read it before. Now hear me repeat it. Feet. And body. Those are the most important things to look after on the camino. The point was made clearly today. For I’ve lost my massage lady companion to blisters. Bleeding blisters at tha! Those are the things that will end your camino faster than you can say “Buen camino”. I cannot imagine the disappointment of a journey cut unexpectedly short. It would feel so incomplete to me.

So I’ve checked my feet and will do some self care (compeed) to avert the development of a blister at a place where it could go either way. I’ve also done stretches to ease what is no doubt going to be a sore body tomorrow. 

Make no bones about it. The climb is gruelling. I found myself having to follow my body rhythm in order to get up the hill. I guess this is what every one says about following your own pace. It is this that saw me press on ahead with the intent to meet companion at Orisson. Of course it is not to be. Companion is at Honto assessing her options. 

If the climb to Honto is intense, the climb from Honto to Orisson is gruelling. Thank goodness for walking sticks which steadied me on uneven ground. It also helped me to haul myself up. I’m sure they weren’t designed for that. Yes, at some points, my hip flexors were cramping up and I ran out of energy quite quickly. There were moments where I had to stop every 10 steps. I sounded like Darth Vader. In,… Out,… In,… Out. That day, I climbed about 100 stories – according to my app.

But I was rewarded with the most fantastic views. Every point so far has had beautiful vistas. Every time I stopped to take a photo, I realised there is an even more panoramic view ahead. And so it continued as I huffed and puffed my way up. 

The path is easy enough to follow. But the point at which I became a bit worried was when I could not find Orisson. I had walked the mentioned 880m after Kayola and still no Orisson. I stopped a car and asked but they didn’t know either. It seems because of the winding in the mountains, Orisson was only 200m away. I was about to backtrack. Thank goodness I saw pilgrims coming the other way and stopped to ask. I felt very frustrated as I could not rely on goggle maps. For reason, data plan not working so I can’t even get my gps working on my walking app. It seems I am to be weaned off my addiction of being constantly online. 

I was soaking with sweat by the time I arrived at Orisson, my first priority was to shower. Showers were hot but only 5 minutes. So I had to make every shower count by preparing all my toiletries and then switching it on. I even had time for a minute to languish and enjoy it. I was super fast! Even though it’s the shortest shower in a long time, it felt well earned and luxurious. 

Post shower was laundry. And then packing and unpacking my pack. Finding this, moving that. Goodness, I’d never thought I’d become so busy. Working out what to eat that’s in my pack so that I did not have to throw it away. I am sure that with all the protein bars that got thrown in, I am carrying about half a kilo more than planned. 

Later that day, I ate half a bag of Doritos and drank water as I admired the view from where I sat. Part of my grazing until dinner. It also meant half a pack of Doritos to carry tomorrow.

Dinner was a wondrous community affair. I was the last one in and was sat next to 2 women one of whom was French and refused to speak English. The other is Brazilian and only knows Portuguese, Spanish and Italian. Despite that we manage to be understood. I felt bad. In a situation of language stress, my first instincts is to head towards Mandarin or Malay. Words I’d known as a child, totally unhelpful in this context. This trip, I am unable to construct a coherent sentence. I speak pidgeon.

It’s dark as I type this – in a dorm of nine other strangers. I can’t sleep. Not because of the snoring though there is some. I just can’t sleep. My body hurts. My thighs and calves are suffering through a dull ache. I’m trying to get it to relax. I keep massaging it. It eases a little and tenses up. I hope today’s stretches will help.

Handy info

  1. Drink loads of water before you climb so you don’t have to carry too much water. 
  2. You can fill bottle again at Honto.
  3. Do the climb in the morning rather than close to midday sun.
  4. Stop and rest frequently if needed. Check feet.
  5. Dress in layers.

What surprised me

  1. How tough the climb was
  2. Orisson refuge is 1.5 km from Kayola. Just keep walked. It’s tucked round a bend.
  3. How spectacular the day was

Photos to come. Having problems uploading due to high traffic in wifi.

Buen camino!