Day 22: Rabanal del Camino to Ponferrada

Descending Monte Irago

After days of walking across the flat Meseta, I was excited for the climb today to the highest point on the Camino Frances at 1515 meters (about 4,970 feet) above sea level. A thick blanket of clouds hung over the mountains this morning, obscuring any broad views of my surroundings. Fog danced and spun in the valleys ahead of me, shifting with the wind.

I started to curse myself a bit for not walking further yesterday to take advantage of the clear sky. But instead I shifted my focus to my close surroundings, appreciating the beauty I found there.

Withered leaves clung to the oak trees. A mat of lichens held fast to their trunks.

Oak Leaves on the way to Cruz del Ferro

Lichen on Oaks heading up to Cruz del Ferro

Tiny webs encircled a purple flowering shrub, and a few diminutive wild flowers poked from the ground.

Heather on the way to Cruz del Ferro

Wildflowers near the top of the Camino

My first stop was the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross) that sits near the top of the Monte Irago. It is a small cross attached to a large wooden pole, circled by a mound of stones, left by pilgrims over the years. Typically, you bring a rock from home, but since I haven’t been home in ten months, I brought a rock that Alex gave me from the banks of the river next to Fairy Falls in New Zealand.

Cruz del Ferro

I climbed to the top of the mound and placed my rock there, leaving behind other spiritual burdens as well.

Leaving my rock at Cruz del Ferro

I had purchased a small stone decorated by a local artist in the tienda in Rabanal del Camino the night before. That stone represents the lessons I have learned (and continue to the learn) on this journey. I will carry that stone and what it represents forward.

After reaching the high point just past the Cruz de Ferro, it’s down, down, down to the valley below. I was worried that my knees would give me trouble, but with the help of my poles, they carried me without complaint.

The clouds broke into layers as I descended the mountain. A few hung over the peaks behind me; another thick layer blanketed the valley below. But it was blue sky above me.

View towards Ponferrada

As I neared the bottom of my descent, the sun was shining brightly and wildflowers blanketed the sides of the trail.

Wildflowers on the descent from Monte Irago

Wildflowers on the descent from Monte Irago

It felt as if I had just walked out of winter and into spring.

Donativo cafe near El Acebo

Today I walked 21 miles.

Categories: Camino de Santiago, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Day 22: Rabanal del Camino to Ponferrada

  1. Tom Madden

    Great journey today. Loved the wildflowers. Amazing distance for the climb and descent. You’re doing wonderfully. Love you, Dad


  2. Allie Brown

    It also LOOKS like you walked out of winter and into spring. Good job. And great pics as always.


  3. Alvaro

    Bright day and bright smile! I try to identify the plants you have seen today : The oak tree, I think is a Pyrenean oak (Quercus pyrenaica “roble melojo o rebollo”); purple flowering shrub is a heather (calluna vulgaris, “brezo”), and yellow flowers are flared daffodils (Narcissus bulbocodium, “narciso acampanado o de olor”). Buen día y buen camino, mi amiga!


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