Feb 13, 2018. Day IX

Route: Villafranca Montes de Oca – Castañares-Burgos
Distance: 31,5 km (Razem 225,5 km)

After a few days of pretty good weather today looked like a bit more demanding. First, I was to climb the highest elevation so far on El Camino. Secondly, the forecast was pretty harsh with heavy snow fall and blizzard along the way. As if this was not enough I found all the eating places in Villafranca closed in the morning so I began my march without breakfast. The closest bar was to be found 12 km further on the today’s difficult trail. Just in case I was munching on my energy bar, that had been sitting in my pocket for a rainy day.

Henry left the hostel a few moments earlier knowing that I want to say the Rosary and meditate. He wanted to give me some space. I guess he needed the same.

Winter on El Camino. Movie

Today’s walk started with a steep ascent and quite a blizzard, which intensified with every minute. After reaching the miximum elevation of 1170 m a.s.l. the gradient temperature fell to about -15 C. The biggest challenge, however, was the ice on the trail. It was freshly covered by snow and thus invisible. It was definitely, as Henry puts it, a two-pole day. Walking I usually use only one pole to pace myself alternating the sides. I also use it for support and stabilization. Despite using two poles today I had a few near „hard landings” on the way. In hindsight, the decision to buy the poles back in Estella was very good.

After reaching San Juan de Ortega after over 2 hours I caught up with Henry, who, like me, was looking for a place to eat there. Everything was closed.

With our stomachs already making some noises we set out to the next town, Agés. Some 3 km before that town we started walking through some cattles fields. Since my backpack has an orange rain cover, I took it off just in case. Pretending to be a toreador on the slippery trail could end bad. We did not come across any bulls though.

In Agés we found a good place to eat and rest. This is a place where most pilgrims stay overnight. We decided to continue our journey to Cardeñuela Riopico, which was about 8 km away from Agés.

The trail to Cardeñuela was very symbolic for me. Today is Tuesday so I was going through the Sorrrowful Mysteries in the rosary. It is also the eve of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Going up the next hill the dramatic change in the scenery struck me. The hillside had more and more stones as we advanced. Then a warlike barbed fence appeared on our left. In the end I was flabbergasted. On top of the hill we saw a big cross. This whole place looked like Golgotha. Why today? Was it a coincidence?

Writing this I still have a very vivid memory of this spiritual experience.

After Cardeñuela it turned out that none of the three albergue there was open. We had already walked 24,5 km in rather difficult terrain. We had no choice but to continue our hike. The last hope of finding something 2 km away in Orbaneja was also soon lost.

Since it was too far to walk to the center of Burgos we found a hotel in Castañares on the outskirts of the city. That’s where we got. We are just enoying a well deserved dinner and celebrating the end of Carnival. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and beginning of Lent. I wish to get to the Cathedral downtown to attend a Holy Mass in the morning.

Meditation VIII. What is your name?

What is your name?

Lk 8, 30

That is the question Jesus directed to the evil spirit in Gerasenes.

Our lives are full of addictions that are typically invisble to us. These are our automatic body and mental responses to different circumstances. They are mine too, by the way. Since they are automatic and invisible to us it is hard to change them. So before this Lent I ask myself what they are called? What is their name?

It would be nice to break free from at least one of them.

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