Day 28. Foncebadón – Ponteferrada 08-06-2018

Walk 27.9 km, 7 hours 14 minutes
Ascent: 250
Decrease: 1150
Kilometers to be traveled: 216.7

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It is a bad weather day today, the predictions that were made yesterday for today are very unfavorable everywhere and when we wake up we can confirm this. Yesterday we told ourselves that we want to start at 5 o’clock, but when we looked outside at 5 o’clock, there are no curtains in front of the window, we decide to postpone it until a later time, half past 7. And how do you decide such a thing? Of course you don’t have to bother others with your talk via Whatsapp.
Yesterday we still had light etc in the shed, unfortunately not this morning, the electricity turns out to be in the shed. But that’s okay, we can move forward because a bit of light enters through the window. Only in the bathroom and toilet can it be helped with the light. So, eat something quickly from breakfast and then we can start at a quarter past seven and the last part of this trip uphill … Of course, because in the remaining walking days many more will follow uphill, today only to the roof of the camino.
Under the short cover but immediately put on the poncho, because if you did not do this today, you might well get wet on your skin, at least in accordance with the forecast in the weather apps. Another hundred meters up, the Iron Cross must be reached. The paths are becoming more subdued, with the rain already falling from the gates of heaven last night. So pay attention where you put your feet, so as not to have to walk all day in wet, soaked shoes.
In a little more than 30 minutes you arrive at Cruz de Ferro, if you take a right turn, it appears in the fog of low clouds, fog, wetness. The closer you get to the cross, the more impressive the stone base makes. Yes stone base, consisting of countless stones that previous pilgrims have left here. I have been walking since this morning with my stone and that of Maricon in my hands, to immediately give them a place here among all the others.

I get shivers all over my body, not from the cold but from this place. I have already reached this magical point, is it going to happen? Will I leave more than just 2 stones? And if I leave more, does it do something to me, does it continue to do something to me? This weather type also makes it even more dramatic I feel. I put the stones down, take some pictures, do not take too much time on the mountain with stones, because every pilgrim wants to experience his personal moment here, even if only for a photo.
From a distance I still look at it, yes 700 kilometers behind me and 240 kilometers ahead of me to my final goal. It goes well, I feel good and I feel somewhat lighter, no not the 2 stones lighter but different. It is time to walk further, it is still a long way to Ponteferrada, mainly downhill, but in the rain. As I move away from Cruz de Ferro, the stranger I feel, something happens, a bit of satisfaction or pride. Maybe something very different that I cannot describe.
The route follows the road, temporarily, and sometimes I also walk on the road because the path next to it only consists of the light brown mud. And with the package you sink a bit deeper and it becomes heavy. Occasionally you walk up again in a piece of false-flat, but mainly it gradually goes downhill. You pass Manjarin, another point on the Frances. This is the first sleeping option after Cruz de Ferro. You really have to like hardship to spend the night here.
The tour continues, mainly over the small road, past some beautiful fields and trees, see my photos for this. Still a bit up, but then the descent really starts after a first treat on the wide view of Rio Sil. You can already see the Templar Castle town of Ponferrada. If you imagine that you are going to spend the night there and now that you are still here, then you still have a long way to go, with many meters down. Can you then speak of depth meters?
From the plateau to Ponferrada the drops fall from the sky and the phone no longer comes out of my pocket. The hiking path sometimes leads over the road, then over a slippery path. How good I felt the previous days, now things are getting worse. I now think afterwards that the high (s) point has built up a certain tension and now that I have left this behind me I am becoming a bit sad. The weather and the roads that I now walk add a little extra to the negativity?
If I can’t walk on the street but have to follow the paths, I have to be careful. The wetness makes the stone surface quite treacherous. It is smooth and streams of water continue to haunt you and catch up. I pass a village where I don’t make a break for the usual coffee with more. I try to make as many meters as possible and hope, against better judgment, that it will dry quickly.
The descent becomes more insidious, the stones that have taken the path bigger and smoother. It also looks more and more like a mountain stream where you walk. The water now starts to flow slowly from the heel through the shoe and through the toes. The Goretex unfortunately doesn’t stop anymore, I walk on wet feet, unfortunately it can’t be otherwise. The way down continues and winds slowly down the sides of the hills. You walk from one hill to the other. It has something, such a wettest day on the pilgrim road, luckily they were in the minority.

As 4 ducks we walk with a bowed head and in quick tret through the rain, on the footpath to Ponferrada. The rain now falls harder than before, but we can’t get wetter than wet. I think we all have wet feet. When we reach the city limits, the rain seems to stop, at least much less. We are looking for an alberge, the Saint Nicolas album, the largest in Ponferrada. The welcome is grandiose, perhaps the best of all my camino. You will immediately be offered cold tea, a warm welcome and after registering you will be led through the alberge by a volunteer and informed about the ins and outs. Everything is modernly furnished and prepared for the future. A real winner.
You already know what will follow, so I save you this standard entry ritual. When we are all 4 we go on our way into the city to eat something. It will eventually become a shoarma business, truly Spanish of course. Yes you can also deviate from the standard pilgrim menu, because in the end they are more or less the same, only adapted to the regional tastes. After dinner we walk a bit further, now it starts raining again, while it was dry when we left the alberge.
We walk to the Templars Castle and take the pictures that almost everyone takes, then we walk into a cafe for a cup of coffee or 2, hoping that the rain will stop. But no, our question for less rain is not answered, so then just walk through the rain and hope that we do not get too wet. Fortunately, we can walk through a small part under a cut-off and we can do some shopping for our supplies. Of course something for tonight, 2 soups and wine, bread and maybe something for tomorrow morning.
When we walk back to the alberge, the severity of the rain also decreases. Once in the alberge it stops raining. Our laundry is not yet ready, not even our turn, this is all taken care of by the volunteers. When it is time for an evening dinner we stay in the alberge and prepare our soup. The clothing is now also ready. It becomes cozy in the kitchen, there is singing and music, one time by pilgrims and the other by the volunteers.
According to my walking app, I walked 425 meters up today and 1,564 meters down, so height meters, not the distance, which was almost 28 kilometers. And yes, you can assume that I also blogged again and had contact with the home front. Well rest, it was a tiring wet day.

Accommodation: Albergue Parroquial San Nicolas

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