This is the queen stage of this Camino route. Hard climbing, brutal descending rewarded with epic 360 degree views of the Asturian mountains and countryside. The weather was perfect cool and foggy for the first part of climb and then perfectly clear as we walked along the top of the range (seemed like several tops as you finished one thinking there was nothing higher only to see the next hill).
We set off after a very hearty breakfast of the best toast and butter ever created and the largest (nearly North American sized) cafe con leche. Casa Herminia may be a commercial enterprise rather than spiritual way point but she knows breakfast! We breakfasted with a Danish fellow Niels-Christian who we had met last night and met up with him in the bar in Borres. He was a little concerned about walking alone on the Hospitales route if the fog failed to clear so we decided to walk together. He was good company and despite suffering from bad shin splints kept a steady pace all day. He started on 19 April in Irun (by coincidence I read his blog through google translate after seeing a link on the Camino Forums).
About 2 hours in the choice to take this route over a similar better serviced route was confirmed as correct as the fog lifted and landscape presented itself. Really memorable walking. The Italian couple we had dinner with were a little ahead of us all day and at one point unfurled a string of Tibetan prayer flags along the barrier. They were very earnest with the process and we took opportunity to reflect about an absent friend who has been in my thoughts.
The hard climbing gave way to more climbing and we lunched on gummy bears, fruit and chocolate bars. We had not brought enough water – only 3 litres despite many warnings- and the day heated up and it dwindled. It counts as hardship on the Camino to be more than an hour from a bar st any point and this route had us about 6-7 hours between bars or any source of water.
We descended almost all we had climbed in a steep 1.5 km stretch that would have been extraordinarily treacherous if the weather had been wet. About 20km were done but still had 3 hours of walking and 2 hours before a bar. At the top of a steep muddy hill in a town of 20 is the best bar in Spain (today’s edition). A cereveza con limon never tasted better. My guide had said that there was a bar in Lago and as we entered the town a couple of older Spanish guys were throwing off packs and making noises they they were kaput. Diana says she never seen guys move so fast as when I yelled down from the bar that it was open.
I was pretty ready to pack it in at Lago and do cab ride of shame but Nils and Diana mocked my weakness and we did. the short, flat and shady walk into Berducedo. Our hotel had a private Alburgue in the ground floor and 7 rooms upstairs and was “hosted” by a very overwhelmed proprietor who disappeared with my passport and was never seen on premises again – there is wifi downstairs but we have none up and I have no cellular coverage – makes me a bit twitchy.
The town is packed with pilgrims as three different stages can end up here and while there are 4 pilgrim hostels they are all small with 10 to 20 beds each. Herminia, our hostess last night in Campeillo, would put all these guys out of business. Dinner was pretty poor but elevated by our being hungry. It was also a multicultural affair with Diana speaking French with Claude from Dijon, and Danish, German, and Poles speaking English at the other end.
We don’t know when breakfast is served and I don’t have my passport – I haven’t paid for room do imagine we will see our hostess before we leave.
Feet good. Morale high. Short stage (a steep descent) tomorrow.