With great excitement, we began our journey today from St. Jean Pied de Port.  We arrived in town at about 9pm and had to roam around a while before we found a place for supper.  After that, we quickly found our pillows and got some rest.  In the morning we headed to the pilgrims office, got our stamps and started heading back up the trail to get started.  However everything didn’t go to plan from here.

Our walk began with an unexpected challenge when one of the members of our group got sick from what we believe was a case of dehydration. We had to make the difficult decision to part ways and send them ahead to Pamplona to recover. Though it was hard to say goodbye, I had to convince them that it was a “great plan” for everyone’s well-being. The remaining three of us continued our pilgrimage, crossing the formidable Pyrenees Mountains.

The trail from St. Jean Pied de Port to Burguete proved to be one of the most difficult I have ever encountered on the Camino. The ascent seemed endless, and at times we doubted if we would ever reach the top of the Pyrenees. This challenging stretch of the journey led me to a little insight about my relationship with walking and hiking.

While I have always enjoyed walking, I realized that I had never truly fallen in love with mountain hiking. The physical demands of hiking, with its racing heart rate and focused concentration on breathing, make it difficult to engage in conversation, ponder deep questions, or even pray. I missed the meditative quality of walking and looked forward to more of it on the remaining days of our Camino.

Our day’s journey ended on a somewhat disappointing note when we reached Roncesvalles, only to discover that all the beds were taken. Exhausted and hungry, we reluctantly continued along the trail.  After being turned down at several more Albergues we got to Plan F.  It wasn’t great, but tomorrow is a new day.