22 October update

Day 16 – October 22 - 467 km completed.  624,000 steps taken.

Last night (Thursday, October 22) it went below freezing here in Salamanca. There was frost on the bridges. Apparently it also snowed further to the north.  Not exactly what I was expecting at this time of the year. Looks like I am going from the fire to the refrigerator.

I am very happy because today I managed to purchase a waterproof cover for my backpack. It cost almost 20€ but it is worth it. It is almost impossible to put the poncho on over top of the backpack under ideal conditions without help, it is impossible to do so under inclement conditions. It´s just a bad design. Not only that but once it is on it has to stay on. If I take it off in order to remove the backpack or to rest I won´t be able to get the poncho back on again. Recall the picture that Franck took and posted on his blog where you can see the outcome of trying to do it alone!

I tried to find a store in Caceres to buy a cover but no luck and I paid the price a couple of days ago when I got totally soaked (see more below). Now I will be able to put the poncho on first and then put the backpack over top while still keeping the backpack from getting soaked.

Day 12 (October 17) Caceres to Casar de Caseres  (11 Km, 2:15 Hours)
Originally in my plan this was to be a rest day, but it became half a rest day when Franck talked me into walking the 11 Km so that the next day would be a more manageable 35 Km. Having lots of time after the leisurely two hour walk in cool morning conditions I decided to tour the local "Cheese Museum". In Casar de Caceres they make a special cheese from sheep´s milk called, Torta de Casar. The museum focussed on the historical way they made the cheese as well as the more modern methods now employed. It was quite interesting and of course I had to buy some. The cheese is runny to the point where you spoon it onto your bread. It's smelly (a bit like Limburger) but once you get it past your nose it tastes really good.

Day 13 (October 18) Casar de Caseres to Canaveral  (35 Km, 7:30 Hours)
This was to be the first of four very tough stages primarily because of the length but also because of limited availability to resupply water and very hot conditions over the last 4 hours. I loaded up with 4 L of water and had only about 1/4 L  when I finished. Had to be sparing towards the end.  It was a pleasant walk through forests and fields for the most part. The last 6 Km on the shoulder of Highway N630, was an unpleasant experience. Seems like there is a bit more walking along highways this year. I decided to stay in a Hostal rather than the albergue so that I could get a good nights sleep (10 hours) in preparation for the 41 Km I faced in the morning.

Day 14 (October 19) Canaveral to Carcaboso (41 Km, 9:00 Hours)
When your guidebook says that the next section of the trail, "...is not suitable for cyclists including moutain bikes." you know that there is a steep and difficult section to climb. And so it was.
Fortunately it was just less than a kilometre.

The rest of the morning was a pleasant walk through forests of pines and old cork oaks. The only sounds were the birds, the occasional "clunk" of a sheep´s bell and the everpresent sounds of walking...a creaking backpack, the sound of the walking stick hitting the ground and feet groaning from the everpresent weights they were carrying.

 The town of Gallisteo appeared after 30 km announced by a myriad of irrigation ditches and aquaducts. The old part of the city is fully enclosed by a wall that is 11 metres high. There was a backup plan to  overnight here but I felt OK and carried on for another 11 km to  Carcaboso. Stayed at an inexpensive Hostal (14€ including breakfast) run by Elena who is quite famous on the Via de la Plata.  She makes the largest cafe con leche and tostada breakfast. I couldn´t even finish the coffee, tasty as it was.

Day 15 (October 20) Carcaboso to Aldeanueva del Camino (38 Km; 9:00 Hours)
I have never been as tired and sore as I was when I reached the albergue at 17:30 after 9 hours of walking.

My guide book said that the distance was 38 km but my pedometer disagreed intensely and it indicated 41.5 when I arrived. The first 20 km was fine.....similar to the previous day, but the last 20+ were agonizing as I walked mostly uphill along a highway in 30 C without any shade for most of the time. 

After dropping my backpack and changing into my sandals I headed for the only bar in the village (200 or so inhabitants) for a much anticipated beer or three. The albergue had 4 beds downstairs and 5 upstairs. Every bed was awful. It was as if the villagers had decided to open an albergue and then asked for donations of the worst bed that everyone had. But I was so tired that I didn´t care.

Day 16 (October 21) Aldeanueva del Camino to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra (42 Km; 9:30 Hours)
My original plan was to walk the 34 km to Valdelacasa, but when I got there I felt pretty good despite some significant uphill sections as I crossed a range of hills. So I decided to carry on for another 8 km to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra. This would give me the opportunity to stay at the famous albergue that was operated by Don Blas Rodriguez who is another Via de la Plata character.

Bad mistake!!!!!  

After about an hour I could see darkening skies to the west and I picked up the pace to try to outwalk the upcoming rain. Needless to say I didn´t make it and I got soaked and squished the final kilometre to the village.  A semi hot shower and some food helped but then the rain really started to come down. There was no point in trying to wash or dry out my wet clothes. And so it continued through the night and into the morning. There were nine other people at the albergue. Four of them (who had a support vehicle.....Camino Lite!)  decided to quit their walk as the weather would not change until the following day. After waiting around for about an hour, the other four decided to head out on the trail.

I decided to wait a bit longer in the hope that the rain would let up a little knowing full well  that once I started I would not be able to stop to rest until I reached my goal 30 km ahead. At best I would have to take the poncho off and get everything soaked.  

Shortly thereafter the four returned because they were stymied by flooding on the trail. All the low spots were a sea of water. And I suspect that some of the little creeks would be raging torrents that would probably be dangerous to try to cross.

So, my options were to try to stay another day or to take the bus to Salamanca about 50 km away. I choose the latter but first I had to get Guijelo, the nearest bus top about 6 km away. I flagged down a car on the highway and in my limited Spanish convinced the driver to take me to Guijelo. In fact he kindly took me right to the bus station and an hour later I was sitting in the coach watching the rain come down on the way to Salamanca. I felt bad about not walking this portion but really had no choice.

I found a nice Hostal near the main square with a bathtub and a place to rinse my laundry....the bidet.

It rained  last night until about 8:00 pm. Then it turned cold....-1C in the morning.

Am taking a day of rest and will start walking again tomorrow morning (Friday)!



 

I am in Salamanca.  Finally!  I have walked 467 km. The weather has been very hot and a few days it has been very windy and wet with much rain. I will take a day of rest tomorrow, October 23, and then continue my walk to Santiago de Compostela.  The extra day here in Salamanca is to look at the beautiful city (if the rain stops) and to give my body a rest.  And he deserves a rest.  467km in 16 days of walking averages out to 29 km per day – a fairly significant distance no matter how you measure it.

Last year’s walk was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  I thought that this year’s would be about the same or perhaps a bit more challenging because of the extra distance, the challenge of mostly walking alone and the somewhat more challenging weather conditions. 

Well.....last year was a cakewalk in comparison. The weather conditions have been extremely challenging.  I have had to carry about 4 litres of water (about 9 extra pounds) most days, I have endured more aches and pains than I have ever imagined, I have walked as much as 9 hours without seeing another pilgrim and then did it all again the next day.

Yet, there is a feeling of bliss and accomplishment every day and each morning I am ready to do it again. 

You can find photos in Misc Photos, on the Anecdotes page and also in Questions and Answers.