Our good friends Emerson and Linda dropped us off at our hotel in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on September 15. We had spent the last four days slowly working our way from our marina in Saint-Jean-de-Losne (there are a ton of “Saint-Jean-the whatevers” in France) to our starting point. Our last stop was Lourdes where I scored some water from the Grotto of Massabielle. Figured it couldn’t hurt.
After a late lunch with Emerson and Linda, we waved goodbye and checked into our hotel. After finding our hiking partners we picked up our information packet and headed to the Bureau des Pelerins to get the first stamp in our Pilgrims Passport.
Day 1 – Over the Pyrenees: Saint-Jean to Roncevalles
In the morning, waiting for our hiking buddies to join us, I watch as pilgrims exited the hotel and then turned around and headed back in to put on rain gear. Our first day started at about 8:30 in a light rain that lasted most of the morning. Today was one of our toughest as the first 13 miles or so are all uphill. Having a 4,000′ plus first day is daunting but we were all in high spirits when we started.
As the day progressed we finally got a break in the clouds and started to get some nice views.
We finally reached the top of the pass about 2:00 PM after 6 hours and 13 miles of up.
After another couple of hours we finally stumbled into Roncevalles and a lovely little hotel with …. beer!
The first day was tough but we all felt good and were excited about pilgriming on. Only 760 km, give or take, to go.