The Camino Begins 

Thurs, April14, 2016

Day One. SJPP, France to Orisson, France  – 5 miles

My original plan was to use Thursday as a rest day. I wanted to get over my jet lag and begin my Camino on Friday morning, St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles – 15.6 miles with an elevation gain of 4760 feet, crossing the Pyrenees. I had reservations with a small hotel in SJPP (St.John Pied Port).

After a short breakfast we were on our way there.

 

Breakfast at corazonpuro

When we checked in at the pilgrim’s office at SJPP, we were told that there was going to be a big storm on Friday. The pass over the mountains had been closed for a week with snow but had just been opened on Thursday. I decided to split the 15 mile hike into two days. Thursday it was beautiful and clear, but did I want to start a 15 mile walk in the rain at 6 am when I could start now when it wasn’t raining. Encouraged by the pilgrims office, I cancelled my reservation at SJPP and obtained one in Orisson, five miles up the mountain pass. SJPP is a lovely French village, and it would have been wonderful to explore it,  but the Camino was calling.

 

John from Holland is stamping my pilgrims passport and giving advice.

 

The pilgrim s office

 

My camino begins – suited up and ready to go – SJPP

As soon as I leave the city I get a tremendous joy. Despite the fact that I am entering in this as a religious pilgrimage I am filled with a sense of adventure and exhilaration to be walking along a road in this beautiful countryside. The tranquil scenes are breath taking.

A mile out of SJPP

As beautiful as this hike/walk was it was hard. It was only 5 miles, but straight up. Most of it was right along the narrow mountain highway, on asphalt. One thing that made the hike fun was a fellow pilgrim, Rosie from Berlin. We panted together as we walked up the steep inclines, and if there was a dip and we were walking downhill, we started singing together, “Downtown” by Petula Clark – me in English and Rosie in German.  Rosie doesn’t  speak very good English so our conversations have been interesting. But she came along at the right time. She is 65, strong and stout and can climb the hills better than me but prefers to wait for me and walk together.

Rosie from Germany – my Camino buddy on the way to Orisson

Soon after this picture and after walking along farms and pastures the fun stops for me and we begin climbing. And I mean climbing  – 2000 feet in five miles.

 

One of the steep paths off the asphalt road. It was steeper than this photo shows

And then the wind began. Gale force winds almost knocking us over. Would it ever end?

 

Looking back at the valley we have climed out of, it is all worth it

I started walking at 11:30 a.m. and arrived at the albergue (hostel) in Orisson at 3:30. Five of the hardest miles I have ever walked.

Orisson albergue run by a Basque farming family

Much to do, get my bed ready, reorganize my backpack and wash my clothes. I was disappointed that there was no WIFI. After a large friendly communal dinner, I collapsed in my bunk. Tomorrow would be the killer day to Roncesvalles, Spain. -almost a 3,000 ft elevation gain in 10 miles over the. Pyrenees. How could it be harder than today?

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14 comments on “The Camino Begins 

  1. Brian Ellsworth says:

    Great story, Ger. What a great adventure! Can’t wait to finish it with you. Lee and I bought some last minute gear today and got our packs fitted. We’re getting ready!

    Brian

  2. Vicky says:

    Gorgeous pictures Geri. You were smart to break up that walk. Did you get to meet Teresa’s friend? Buen Camino friend🙏🙏🙏

  3. Anonymous says:

    How wonderful that you found a hiking buddy, and one close to your age!!! I still don’t know how you do it but I know it is so rewarding.
    Blessings and prayers,
    Martha

    • Geri Wilson says:

      Martha – I may have lost my hiking buddy. She walks faster than me and wants to complete this in one month and I have one month to get to Sarria (100 km before Santiago) to meet Lee and Brian. But the time I have spent with Rosie has been delightful. I could write a whole post on Rosie.

  4. Geri, thank you so much for sharing! Teresa and I are following you closely and feel like we are walking beside you, experiencing the camino all over again. Seeing the breakfast room at corozonpuro and the pilgrim office in SJPP brought back wonderful memories of istvan, Barbara, and our fellow pilgrims.

    Buen Camino Geri! Keep the posts coming.

    • Geri Wilson says:

      Les-yours and Teresa’s blog last year inspired me so much-I wanted, not to duplicate yours, but to also share my experience with my friends and family. It was your advice about walking alone on the Camino that opened up the idea that this could be more than a dream, but a reality.

  5. Virginia says:

    Hi Geri! So glad that you found a place from which to send your blog!! I was worried for a while ! 🙂 I have enjoyed your descriptions and beautiful pictures!! It’s almost like being with you!! I hope all continues to go well….especially the 3000 ft up in ten miles…waiting to hear how that went… What kind of temps are you seeing?

  6. YOLANDA MILLAN says:

    Blessings your way Peregrino !!! stay strong and safe . Buen Camino y vaya con Dios Peregrino. Yolanda.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love listening to your stories. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, looking at your photos, reading of your adventures, so happy that you are doing this for you. xo

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