A shorter day was in the offing but with a major climb to Puerto del Palo, 3600 feet. Indeed, fewer miles but more elevation changes. The sky was clear and Carolina blue.
We started off with a gentle rise on the road out of Pola de Allende. We were clearly on the CP when we saw a large sign displaying the scallop shell. The route took us off road along a narrow valley that eventually crossed the road leading to the Puerto del Palo. Note how quickly the sky changed.
Friends of mine who are experienced Appalachian Trail (AT) walkers clued me in that thru walkers refer to the Pennsylvania section as Rocksylvania. Having walked on the AT just west of Blue Mountain, I can attest that some parts of the AT have stretches of rocks waiting to sprain or break ankles. My fellow Caminoite, Gabriel, and I endured many miles of a rocky road as we ascended and descended the Puerto del Palo. But one feels the accomplishment of reaching the cold, misting, and windy pass.
On our way down, the earth was scorched black as far as we could see because of an enormous fire the year before. I later found out that the fire was deliberately set. The culprit has yet to be apprehended. Down our path, I took a photo of how the forest is starting to regenerate itself.
As we reached the end of our rocky road (about three quarters of the way to our destination), we encountered a young woman sitting on a rock. She told us that she was walking to Pola de Allende but had taken the wrong turn. Rather than choosing the rocky road up, she had walked straight on the flat road we were about to take. She was the first walker who was going in the opposite direction that I had encountered. She had been lost for three hours.
We pointed out the way that we had come from the pass at the top of the mountain. We estimated that she would need about an hour to get to the top and then another three and a half hours downhill to get to Pola. She had a forlorn look; she did learn a new American English idiom — she was “bummed out.” She was Johanna from Koln and had been on the road alone for two months. She had started from Lisbon. What gumption.
She slung on her backpack. We wished her well as she trudged up the path. We walked on and after a half mile looked back. We could see her and we could see how she could have missed the trail. My experience is that going in the opposite direction of a known trail is very difficult because directional signs at critical junctures are oriented in an intended direction. The problem was that no signs could be seen at this critical point but we could see a Camino sign up the road.
We walked another mile and the young woman caught up with us. She had decided that she did not have the motivation to make the final climb. She would return to her day’s starting point, our end point. She pondered whether to take transportation (bus, taxi) to Oviedo and start the CP from there to where she stopped or to continue walking over the Puerto del Palo the next day. We could feel her pain.
We eventually entered Berducedo. Johanna peeled off to find an albergue. Gabriel went on to La Mesa, the town down the road where he had a reservation, and I searched for Casa Araceli. Using Google Maps, I easily found my abode for the night. How did we survive on paper maps? I have learned a useful tactic in my older age — ask for directions. Somehow, women already have that in their survival repertoire. Sharon says males have the smaller Y chromosome.
Casa Araceli is adjacent to a pasture where cows were grazing. As you view the photo, look at the mountain crest in the far distance. That’s approximately where Puerto del Pola is located. I am always struck by looking back on some spot that I had just walked.
My inn had picnic tables outdoors. While relaxing with a cerveza, Bernard whom I met on Day 2 came up with a glass of wine and sat down. He is 58 and started in his family’s carpentry business when he was 14. Now that he is heading the company, he can set his own work schedule and has the money to travel. He is fulfilling a dream to walk the Camino.
Just then, I heard Rolando — my Spanish name. Down the steps came Christina and Jamie. They have appeared several times in my blogs starting from Day 1. They were staying at a albergue in town but heard about the food at my inn. We shared vino and dinner together.
I did solve a mystery from the Portuguese Camino. If you read those blogs, Laird had to keep asking for butter when bread was served. In Spain, the general eating custom is that butter is acceptable at breakfast. Thereafter, it is not at later meals similar to no cappuccino after breakfast. I was told that using butter on bread especially at dinner is counterproductive to the tasting experience. Bread is used to soak up sauces. Butter would interfere with the flavors of the dish.
The wonders of traveling.
One thought on “Day 5 (May 10) Rocksylvania in Asturias — 15 Miles”
A beautiful day, but cool according to your picture on top with the jacket! Glad you found a trekking buddy especially over the rocky road! So nice to see friends at dinner, too. You are meeting so many people on these walks- all enriching your life! Keep going and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s episode….