Monday, November 18, 2013

Camino 2013 - Day 6: Santa Cilia To Artieda

There are fewer stage choices on the Aragones.  Availability of, and distance between, albergues dictate where you are going to stay each night.  There is one section though that gives you a choice.  There are two ways to go once you leave Jaca.  You can go Jaca - Arres - Ruesta- Sangüesa or you can go Jaca - Santa Cilia - Artieda - Sangüesa.  Since we went to the monastery we ended up in Santa Cilia so our next stop would be Artieda.

A bend in the Aragon river.
The day was a long day but there was a highlight early on.  Just before Puente la Reina de Jaca the Camino passes through a cairn field.  I have seem cairns before, they are a common way to mark trails, but I have never seen this quantity of cairns in one place.  The fact that most of the rock in the area was rounded river rock made the cairns look even cooler.  There was a fairytale quality to the place.  Pictures do the place little justice so here is a short nine second video of the field.

Cairn field along the Camino.
At Puente la Reina de Jaca we stopped at a store to buy food (there was no store in Santa Cilia) and we stocked up on walking food and something to eat for lunch.  I waited at the store briefly for the baguette to come out of the oven.  The hot bread was then lashed to the top of my pack.

Can you see the arrow pointing the way?
After leaving the town the Camino follows a farm road.  This part of the Aragones reminded me a lot of the meseta of 2011.  It was sunny and the  trail was straight and flat.  It turned out to be tough too.  It wasn't hot but I'm pretty sure I wasn't drinking enough water.   Most of the path was lined with harvested fields - mostly hay - but there were places with weathered grey formations that made it look like the surface of the moon.

A late season poppy brightens up a harvested field.
The one thing that saved me were the wild raspberries growing along the road.  The raspberry bushes reminded me of the ones I picked berries off of when I was a little boy.  This time of year the bushes were full of ripe purple berries.  The added water and sugar from the berries are probably what kept me going on the Aragones.

Harvested farm fields with the Pyrenees mountains as a backdrop.
Despite the raspberries, by the time I got to Artieda I was pooped!  Like many towns along the Aragones and the Camino in general, Artieda was built on the top of a hill.  That last little bit that took us up the steep road to the village sapped me.  The town, like Santa Cilia, has only one albergue.  The albergue also acts as the village's one bar, cafe, restaurant, and store.  We did our chores and then sat outside the albergue with the food we'd bought in Puente la Reina de Jaca.  I augmented that with an ice cream and a liter and a half (1.6 quarts) of water.  The water bottle was emptied in about fifteen minutes.  I obviously didn't drink enough water that day and that bottle helped bring me back to life.

The reservoir in the distance as seen from Artieda.  The Camino would pass it the next day.
The afternoon was spent the same way we did every afternoon so far.  We walked around the town which, being perched on a hill, offered some really nice views including views of the reservoir made from the dammed Aragon river.  We laughed at the exercise machines - we didn't need any more exercise thank you very much.  J-M who showed up after us found a guy to unlock the neighboring church so we toured it as well.

The evening meal was a communal meal served by the albergue owners.  The owners were very nice people (we'd asked the owner if they had a washer and he said "Yes but", with a mischievous smile he added "it is manually operated").  The meal was, again, delicious.

At this point a sort of Camino family was forming.  J-M, Rh and Nc, and a German woman name Ju.  There were also a group of Spanish ladies and a young man from Barcelona and his girlfriend, a Russian Ukrainian now living in Barcelona who we would see over the next few day.

This had been the longest stage so far and, frankly, I hadn't handled it very well at all.  I was exhausted when I got to Artieda.  The next day we were planning to walk to Sangüesa which would have been 30 km (18.64 miles).  Gv and I talked about this and decided to shorten the stage and stop in Undués de Lerda  instead to give me time to recuperate.  I wasn't happy about this, it took us a half day off our itinerary, but it was a sound decision at the time.  We would look for a way to catch up to our itinerary later on.

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

Total Distance on Day 6: 27 km (16.78 Miles)
Total Distance Walked: 122 km (75.81 Miles)

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

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