Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Camino 2013 - Day 4: Canfranc Estación To Jaca

We left Canfranc Estación near dawn and continued south along the Camino Aragones.  The path follows the Aragon river most of the way and the sound of running water is often heard along the trail. I like the sound of water and trails that follow flowing water are some of my favorite.

Morning fog on the Aragon river.
The trail this day was rocky which made it hard on the feet and ankles.  You had to be careful not to turn your ankle as you walked amongst the rounded river rock.  It would turn out that most of the mountain trails along the Aragones were rocky and a bit challenging.  My first pain started today.  My left big toe became sensitive to pressure.  I assumed I would lose the nail (I was right - lost it last Sunday).  The tough trails would give me aching legs but I was pleasantly surprised how quickly they recuperated at the end of the day.  My pilgrim's walk, a stiff legged hobble, never lasted long and wasn't nearly as severe as last time.  I guess my training walks and my morning exercises/stretches did help.

This part, and most of the Aragones Way, passes through villages with a real alpine feel to them and the hilly (some would say mountainous) Camino trail has the same alpine trail feel.  The results are stunning vistas of mountain peaks and valleys.  Most of the villages you pass through are rather small and are built on the top of hills or along the river.

Even walking along the road has its beauty.
We stopped in the town of Villanúa to have some breakfast.  I had my first tortilla española of this Camino.  It was just as good as I remembered it.

We reached Jaca and made our way to the albergue. It wasn't open yet so we plopped down in the small entry courtyard and waited for it to open.  As we waited J-M showed up as well as a new German couple Rh and Nc who would become good friends later on the Camino.  The albergue opened and we did our chores.  It was a nice municipal albergue with no bunk beds so nobody had to have a top bunk.

Waiting in the albergue courtyard.
It was in Jaca that J-M gave me a shell.  He had collected several in Fisterra the last time he was there and he was giving them to people he liked and considered friends.  I felt honored to get one and I hung the shell on my pack under the shell I bought at Col du Somport.  J-M said that having two shells hanging from my pack represented the fact that this was my second Camino.  I liked that.

The Cathedral in Jaca.
After our chores we went out to explore the city.  Jaca was the first real city on the Aragones.  Near the albergue was a church and a pentagonal Citadel (Ciudadela de Jaca).  We went through the church but the Citadel had been closed to the public for a while.  I still got some interesting pictures though.  There were deer grazing in the "moat" of the citadel.

The Ciudadela de Jaca.
We also did some shopping in Jaca.  We shopped in just about every town we stayed in.  It was a necessity since you really didn't want to carry a lot of food each day - food can be heavy - therefore you have to carry just what you need for the next day.  So, in Jaca as in many other towns along the Camino, I bought food for the next day.  This time I also bought a magnet ... and candy including a dark chocolate bar for me (I still have some Werther's Originals from Jaca).  I ate more chocolate this Camino than last but a typical chocolate bar would last me three to five days - I kept it from getting too out of control.

I learned a lesson last Camino and I applied that lesson this time around.  There were a couple of Spanish ladies who we'd run into in Canfranc Estación.  They were incredible snorers.  Last Camino I didn't use earplugs until near the end.  This time I started wearing them early on.  They helped me sleep in Canfranc Estación despite the roaring of the Spanish ladies.  They worked again in Jaca.  J-M was not so lucky.  He didn't have earplugs.  His bed was next to the Spanish ladies.  He ended up taking his mattress down to the first floor of the albergue to get away from them and finally get a good night's sleep.  I would wear earplugs most nights this Camino and I would get some of the best sleep I've ever had.

One last note about Jaca.  Last Camino I met an Italian, Dario (I called him Do in my posts).  Dario walked the Camino this year as well.  He walked the Aragones just like we did.  Sadly Dario's Camino ended when he passed away in his sleep in Jaca.  He touched the lives of many pilgrims and he will be missed.

Pictures can be found in my 2013 Camino de Santiago Google Photos album.

Total Distance on Day 4: 21 km (13.05 Miles)
Total Distance Walked:  79 km (49.09 Miles)

Approximate Track of the day's hike.
[Click on map for a larger version]

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