Day 2 Orisson to Roncesvalles 

Up Up and Away

At 6:00 am the peregrinos began to stir. I was already awake. I still wasn’t recovered from jet lag and was working on 3 hours of sleep. A free breakfast was included in the cost of the room. Breakfast was at 7 am and Rosie and I had agreed to leave right after breakfast. I had to roll up my sleeping bag, get everything packed and organized before I went down to eat.  Breakfast consisted of toast, coffee and orange juice. I had two glasses of the best orange juice I have  ever tasted, one piece of plain toast and a piece of untoasted toast. I picked up my sandwich that the albergue kitchen prepared for me, and we were off – cheese sandwich (Cheee in a baguette) stuffed in the outside pocket of my backpack.While we were leaving we saw the most beautiful sunrise.

Sunrise 7:15 a.m. Oriisson, France

About 20 steps out of the albergue we had to start climbing.


Climbing in beauty (steeper than it looks)


Two peregrinos-Geri and. Rosie


Rosie and I climbed and climbed with beautiful vistas on either side of us, ahead of us or behind us. Our fellow pereginos  from the big communal dinner last night passed us by and greeted us with Buen Camino.  Occasionally someone would walk our pace and we would have conversations. A Polish man spoke German with Rosie, my St. Louis friends from Corazonpuro passed us. Joette (from St. Louis) took my picture. We would see familiar backpacks in the far distance getting smaller and smaller as they walked in groups laughing and talking. Rosie and I huffed and puffed and stopped to take pictures.


Looking back at the valley we climbed out of


Rosie and the Pole


Famous statue of the Virgin Mary


Me and Mary-not sure why I look so happy

For some reason as I approached the statue I  started singing “Hey Jude” and someone said to me “You are showing your age.” I thought more than a song is showing my age-like my speed up the mountain.

As we went higher, the temperature dropped  and a howling wind came up from the valleys. Our hats were blowing off of us so I put on my ski mask. It is better than a beanie for keeping your ears warm.




Having fun with my hiking poles in the snow


Our path takes us off the road


My backpack – note the blue bag – my poncho and the shell given to us by the pilgrims office


About noon Rosie and I stopped for lunch about 100 feet from the Spanish border.  Jeremy from Kent, England joined us.  We sat on a grassy bank overlooking a grove of birch trees.  The trees. Went right down the steep side. Of the mountain.. After lunch, we were soon in Spain and climbing in the snow. The wind howled worse than ever, coming over the snow passes and picking up speed in the valleys lashing itself on us furiously. One time it threw me into the bank and I would have fallen had I not had my hiking poles to keep me from going down.  As we climbed and climbeds I lost Rosie, she kept her own pace this time and did not wait for me to catch up. I didn’t see her again until we reached Ronsavalles.


Birch trees


Where I lost Rosie

We climbed and we climbed and now I was being passed by people who had started hiking from SJPP that morning ,  I was often alone being pushed back and forth by the wind.. I wascarefulto stay away from the edge of the cliff and stayed closer to a bank, lodging my poles into the ground for support. On one steep rocky stretch, Jeremy from England caught up with me after one of his breaks and a Canadian lady joined is. The Canadian lady was so interested in the rocks,she kept looking down and picking them up. She said it was possible to find gems hereafter the rains. Speaking of rain,  where was that big storm the pilgrim’s office told me about. It rained the night before at Orisson, causing pilgrims to rush to get their clothes off the line. I had paid to use the dryer.

Looking for gems



The view to my left

There are less pilgrims on the trail now. I am mostly alone, fighting the wind. In some ways,  I like being alone. I talk to God, I pray for my friends and family, I wonder why I can’t go any faster after all my training. I begin to wonder if I am the only one on the mountain; often, it is almost an hour between fellow pilgrims. I try to stay positive, but I can easily slip  into set-criticism. My backpack is unbelievably heavy, pulling me backward.


The road before me

Eventually I get to the top and I start going down. The wind increases, pushing me around. I stumble across Jeremy and a lady from Florida.  They tell me I have a decision to make. There are two paths here. One is very steep and shorter, the other is longer and less steep. I want to catch Rosie so I say  “Short and steep” and startin that direction. The lady from Florida said she and her co workers did the steep way last year and two of them hurt their knees and had to leave the  Camino. She said no one should go that way. I felt that I had received that message for a reason  and went the longer way.

My view of Rroncavalles and the valley below:

I catch up with Jeremy and we talk and share our lives. He had traveled extensively and lived abroad working for the British government. I have heard him speak about five different languages to our fellow pilgrims. He stops for a break and I walk the reset of the way alone.
 It is 3:30.  I finally arrive at the albergue. I wasn’t prepared for the masses of people converging on the one facility. Orisson is so much smaller. People have arrived from the other beginning point,  Valcarlos. There are long lines of people registering. We have to fill out a form declaring the purpose of our journey –  religious, spiritual, sport, health. I check every box but sport. I thought it meant that I was being competitive or something, like it was a race. I was thinking Rosie had beat me by an hour, but soon I see her rushing towards me breathing hard, her face flushed. There was no one at the fork in the road and she took the steep way down. She had arrived 10 minutes behind me and looked traumatized.

It is a new facility for the albergue. I suppose it is still in the old monastery, but the facilities are spacious and modern. The boots are taken off and put in the boot room and I am given bed 151. It was hard to find because of the European “1” – I couldn’t read it and was looking for bed 51. A friendly pilgrim set me straight.

Rosie and I agreed to meet at 7 for the communal dinner. Then  it was the busy work of unpacking the backpack, unrolling the sleeping bag, taking a shower, getting the laundry done  (I  paid 3 Euros for their laundry service), checking out the Internet which was too slow to be of much  use.

 I was so happy toget a bottom bunk this time. My bunk mates were a Spanish brother and sister and a German boy.  The dinner was vegetable soup, meat or fish and potatoes and wine. I tell the hostess I am a vegetarian and she serves me a delicious salad with fresh crisp lettuce,tomatoes, egg and olives. Then it is off to bed. Rosie and I have bought food for tomorrow so we will miss breakfast, and meet at 7 to start our next day on the Camino.


15 comments on “Day 2 Orisson to Roncesvalles 

  1. Vicky says:

    Day 2 must have been an extremely long and arduous day on top of being cold and windy. I am sorry that you began criticizing yourself in your solitude. You are such an inspiration to us all here in San Diego. We pray and cheer you on daily, and look forward to your blogs. Onward Christian Soldier. Stay proud and sure! Love the pics of snowy mountains, and valleys. 🙏🏃💕

  2. Kathy Harris says:

    What a great story Geri! Awesome pictures too. It is so fun reading about your adventures, and to think you are only a few days in! There is so much yet to be discovered. Thanks for sharing your days with us. You remain an inspiration!
    Be safe.

  3. Phyllis Weber says:

    Isn’t it wonderful how God plays our lives. The walk has so much beauty and you are so blessed to be walking the way. Praying and thinking of you each day. Your blogs are blessings to me. God speed and safety.

  4. Jan maynard says:

    After watching The Way today, I feel like I know just where you are, and am walking with you. Be careful. Enjoy the journey

  5. Wonderful post, little bear! I feel like I’m already there! Bliss!

  6. Kathy Stern says:

    As soon as i have completed my family obligations, i want to do this, God willing.

  7. Virginia says:

    Oh Geri!
    I could almost feel your pain! though your descriptions!! How strong you are! I hope conditions will be better for you now that you are over the mountains!! It seems you are meeting so many nice and interesting people ! I am really enjoying your blogs,really looking forward to them!! Thanks for taking the time!!

  8. Marsha says:

    Hey Pilgrim, wow, what an experience you are wonderfully sharing and enduring! Your writing reads like a riveting novel, your pictures are lovely and I high-fived you when you discovered you had arrived at Ronsavalles before Rosie. Stay safe and keep entertaining us.

  9. Geri,

    Your emotions are so in line with most pilgrims. We were relieved and exhausted when we arrived in Roncesvalles. Just keep putting one step in front of the other and go your own pace. This is your Camino, make it yours!

    The good news is the Albergue at Roncesvalles is the largest and most crowded we experienced. Many people start there and everyone starts spreading out at different paces and distant goals.

    We are enjoying your journey so much.

    Oh Yeah, Our friend Mary and her sister Sophie are about two days ahead of you.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing about the people you are meeting! You’ve made friends from St. Louis! You can visit them when you visit us this summer! 🙂

  11. Naomi Williams says:

    It looks real hard. The area is beautiful

    • Geri Wilson says:

      It is hard. And beautiful. But the experience is more than just a hike because of the kindness of the Spanish people along the way and the kindness between the pilgrims to each other – all from different countries.

  12. Jeremy Barnett says:

    Dear Geri Read your comments with interest and I liked some of the photos. I admire your tenacity in doing the camino and taking photographs and writing a blog at the same time. Such stamina! I am now back in UK and feel much fitter. I had to fly back from Santiago as I arrived there and found that my boat from Santander to Portsmouth had been cancelled – propellor trouble. I greatly enjoyed the camino and look forward to doing another one sometime. If you are ever this way, do look me up. To confirm my contacts +441892 864626 Oakdene, Station Road, Groombridge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 9NB. On 11 June I am going to a talk by a local author and a vicar (who did the camino about 8 years ago)entitled ‘;Taking my God for a walk’. Nice to meet you. Kind regards Jeremy Barnett

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