Day 25 (Oct 10): Rabanal to Ponferrada, 33 km, 568 km (total)
Tough day on the Camino and one of our longest days so far (almost 20 miles). Another pre-dawn start to get a jump on a very long day.
And we have definitely entered the mountains. The coastal range which we have seen 50-60 miles to the north for the last three weeks have swung around as we slowly approach the western coast.
We stopped for coffee at 6 miles or so at a Refugio. The coffee was so thick it almost didn’t pour, but no complaints. It was hot and black on a chilly morning. And today was the high point of the entire Camino, the Cruz de Ferro at 4,934′.
And we bumped into Stitch (“Steech”), a puppy doing the Camino on the back of very nice frenchman…
And we had some lovely views as we hiked higher in the mountains.
And we finally stumbled into our destination town, Ponferrada, a small city of about 65,000 with a 13th century Templar castle, which was unfortunately closed while we were there.
Day 26 (Oct 11):Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo, 25 km, 593 km
Much easier day between two tough ones, only a bit over 15 miles. We are actually in a valley between mountain ranges today so not a lot of climbing. We stopped for lunch at a litte refugio that had avocado toast (yes!)…
…. with a new friend.
Today was mostly a hot road walk with not great views but we had a few and our destination town was very pretty.
And we had a new Camino marker to look out for.
Day 27 (Oct 12): Villafranca del Bierzo to O Cebreri, 30 km, 622 km
Tough, tough day on the Camino…. but lots of fun! 18+ mile day with a big 2500 foot climb in the afternoon. Started the day at 1750 and ended it at 4250.
The day started in the dark at 6:30 with our usual 6 mile road walk to get to coffee. Saw some unusual art along the way..
And today was clearly dangerous as we passed a warning sign for…. snowflakes?
We had an early lunch at a place that was just opening up (we had to talk them into serving us) in Herrerias. Then …. the big climb… 5 miles of up, up, up but with stunning views near the top.
And… after many, many days we finally left Castille y Leon and entered Galicia.
And, after 7 hours of hiking we rolled into O Cebrerio and a much deserved libation.