Where the Hell Am I?

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Is a good title for this past week.
Walked to the subway in New York, subway to JFK, plane to Paris, train to Bordeaux/Hendaye, smaller train to San Sebastian, bus to Vitoria, walked to hotel, arriving Tuesday night. That was a busy day.
Spent five days with my friend that was in Spain for the summer, getting over jet lag and catching up.
Basque country is cool. Crazy language, good food, lots of bicycles with sidewalks and streets designed for it. Went swimming, long lunches and a couple naps.
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Saturday we rented a car and headed to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, an ancient church built on this little island connected by a bridge. It was a nice day, sunny for the little hike down and up. It was busy and touristy but nice.
Then we stayed in Gurnika, a nice little town famous for an early aerial bombing by the Germans in WW2, and then made more famous by Picasso’s painting of the event. It was a nice evening, with lots of people walking around or having a glass of wine or beer outside.
It happens that the Camino del Norte goes thought that town and I was planning on walking it back to France, so that made for an easy start.
Said goodbye and started following the yellow arrows. The Camino isn’t like a normal trail in that it kinda only goes one way. Well at least the signs only point in one direction, unlike the AT, which is designed bidirectional: arrows on both sides of the tree.
So I had to keep looking back for a marker and infer the direction I should be walking. Clearly this was tedious and as somewhat expected I got lost twice within two hours, going northeast when I should have been southeast. Plus it was Sunday and a pilgrim said that it was hot and nothing was open at all. I failed to get food in the pack before I left…
So I scraped that plan and wake back to Gurnika and caught a train to San Sebastian. That saved maybe three days of backwards walking. Started walking to France and made it a coupe hours before the that of rain arrived. Then jumped on a train to Irun, on the French border.
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Irun was hopping, with some festival happening. Roads were closed and people were everywhere. Then hopped over the border to Hendaye, France where I finally got a room and went to bed.
This morning, I got up and out and eventually found the GR10, the big trail that goes along the Pyrenees between France and Spain. I am going to walk that for a few days before I start heading north.
It was good to be walking again after a busy two weeks.

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Follow the blazes through town and you eventually start heading up the foothills of the Pyrenees. The overcast cleared up and it got sunny and hot. I caught up with a French woman that was also walking and we walked and tasked a bit, neither knowing the language that well. We went through a small village but the restaurant wasn’t open yet, so we pressed on.
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But the hills got bigger and the day hotter and I didn’t have enough food on me. Rookie mistake again! I was cooking and getting low on water after a few hours, having to stop and rest a few times.
I ran into the first water source just in time, filled up and then just sat in the little shade and drank. That really helped and I pressed on. Turns out the next town was only 15 minutes away and I happily devoured ham and eggs and bread. Rested, fed and rewatered, I headed out and finished up the day about two and a half hours later, around 7. Stays light out here until about 10 here.
So a long and hot 15 miles today. Trail legs need a couple days to get back to speed, but tomorrow looks relatively easy.
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Staying at the gite (hostel) tonight, right on the trail on the edge of town. Meet a nice Australian couple over pics and they secured by tent spot for tomorrow.
Here is the section I hope to do before I had north: http://randopyrenees.com/rando-pyrenees/gr-10-troncon-1-hendaye-st-jean-pied-de-port

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5 comments

  1. HI Donald … beautiful country – no wonder you wanted to change your plans. Are you still wearing a backpack with all your supplies or are you stopping at night to stay at a hostel? What does the countryside smell like? Get your camera working !!!! Aren’t I demanding.
    Thanks for your travel notes. maggie

  2. Looking forward to all your updates on this new leg of your global tour.

  3. I love all of the photos you added….a very different look from the AT…!!

  4. Hey you. So good to hear from you!!! Hope your day’s go smoothly!! Xoxoxo

  5. Clay upside down pots on the wall? Birdhouses??