The spectacular views throughout our first day of Camino hiking were as beautiful as anything we’ve ever seen.
A rocky and deeply green landscape punctuated by farms, livestock, and fields of wild flowers. All this against the Atlantic coastline with waves crashing on the rocky coast. It was a rainy day, cold and very windy. And none of that detracted from the beauty all around us.
And then we got lost, but more on that later.
Our morning began with a 6:30 a.m. wake-up call and breakfast with other guests beginning the Camino del Norte from the Albergue de Peregrinos Jakobi. This is a donativo albergue, meaning it’s a hostal that serves only pilgrims on the Camino who, in return, donate what they can for the accommodations. Our hosts, volunteers called hospitaleros, were warm, encouraging, and very supportive of their fledgling hikers embarking on the Camino. This tradition of service dates back to the Middle Ages when the custom of offering hospitality, care and support of pilgrims was established. . It was the perfect beginning to our hike.
We chose an alternative Camino route today that took us along the ridge line overlooking the Atlantic coast. Sometimes referred to as El Purgatorio, hiking Jaizkibel was challenging, taking us up and down steep inclines until we reached the peak at 1,780 feet elevation. By the time we arrived at the top, we were wet, muddy, and elated. And much higher than the 20 foot elevation we started with in Irun.
We were excited to begin our descent, still up and down, but mostly down. It was slow going because of the slippery mud and rock outcroppings. And at some point we took a wrong turn, causing us to descend on the wrong side of the ridge. When we finally realized our error, we were back at sea level, and the only way to rejoin the Camino was to go back up! Thankfully, Barry figured out a way to do this that didn’t require the full ascent. It did mean using a public road, with little traffic, but lots of switchbacks and elevation gain. It was a relief when when we began seeing the bright yellow Camino trail markers!
By the time we descended into Pasejas de San Juan and took the quick ferry ride to the other side, we were beat, and Barry’s knee had started to complain. It was a short distance into San Sebastián and our hostal for tonight, but after 8 and a half hours hiking, 2,755 feet of elevation gain, and 15 miles of distance, we took a quick taxi ride into town.
Today left us tired in a good way and looking forward to the next stage of the Camino.
of Pasejas de San Juan.