Day 1 Leaving St Jean Pied de Port

imageimageWe left our luxurious accommodation at 7 am after a full breakfast. We had started!
Leaving the town we started climbing. In fact we climbed for the next 24 km!! We were to climb to 1450m that day.

imageimageThe scenery was incredible, steep rolling hills, fields full of sheep or cows or horses (couldn’t think of any reason to have herds of horses other than food).

 

imageIMG_0642The scenery kept our minds off how incredibly difficult this section was. When trekking you get to pass and repass the same faces as each of you rest at different places. Early in the day we passed a young Japanese girl who appeared to have trouble walking. She walked very slowly with a peculiar gait reminiscent of The Mummy from some old Hammer horror film, although she was dressed somewhat better.

Several hours later after keeping up a brisk pace we decided to take a 2 minute break. As we got up to resume the trek, there, some 50 metres away lurching towards us was the Japanese girl! How did she do that? It was just like the film, no matter how fast the hero ran, whenever he turned around there was the Mummy!

imageimageAfter 18k we reached The Cross where the trail leaves the road. Here we found an enterprising chap with a food and drink van so we decided to stop for a break. From our vantage point we could see several kilometres back down the trail, the road was deserted. After a banana and a fruit drink we donned our backpacks and we’re just about to leave when lurching round the bend came the Japanese girl! What’s going on here!

imageWe left the road and ascended steeply to the highest point on the Camino at 1450 metres. We had hoped for a picture of us crossing the boarder into Spain but there was no demarcation whatsoever. From here we knew we had 4k of downward trek, steep and all through woodland. If it hadn’t been for the pain this would have been a very pleasant part of the trek. We were totally alone and it was an extremely personal and peaceful experience. Deb decided to take advantage of our solitude to answer a call of nature but no sooner had she started than we heard the familiar shuffle of the Japanese girl!! After a frantic scrabble to regain a modicum of modesty we stood silently and watched the Japanese girl lurch past.

We continued our woodland decent but after several hours felt we were part of an Escher landscape that never ended! I’m sure I saw the same knarled oak tree pass us by at least three times. The last time I swear I saw a strange grin etched into the bark! Would we ever emerge? Where was the Japanese girl? Would our feet ever recover?

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Views from St Jean Pied de Port.
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A look back at the main road through St Jean.
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A well earned rest at Orisson 6k out of St Jean.

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