Day 1 – El Camino – Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncevalles

Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncevalles, Aaron, Matt and I met up in Bayonne and took the coach together to St Jean Pied de Port, the most common starting point for the trek.

~8 hours
two blister bandaids, backpack rain cover, poncho
overcast and cool early morning. Overcast midday. Warm but cover cast in the afternoon. Heavy rain late afternoon
– Albergue: 7€

When we arrived, we went straight to the Acceuil de Pélerins. The Municipal Refuge was full! So we had to go to the next available hostel which was €17 per night (though breakfast was included).

We started the journey not 50 metres from the hostel. The path inclined immediately and we knew it was going to be a tough start to our long journey ahead.

There was thick fog at Honto and all the way to the first Refuge at Orrisson. Well, I thought it was fog – but in fact it was cloud. At Orrisson we were already at 700 metres altitude, another 700 metres to climb in less than eight kilometres.

We had lunch at Orrisson, I got a ham sandwich, Matt got a beer, and Aaron got a chorizo sandwich. This would be the last time we would eat before we would arrive at Roncevaux (Roncevalles in Spanish).

The climb was difficult and it was though the path would never end. We crossed the Pyreneesat around midday. This was the most difficult section of the whole trek. We were always climbing, the clouds sweeping by.

On the otherside of the mountains we began our descent. There was a tap at the top where we filled our bottles. The water was fresh from the spring and tasted very nice, it was also cold.

Here is a photo of the highest point of the Camino, around 1400 metres above sea level.

Apparently there is the biggest beechwood forest in Europe. It was a never ending descent. We were exhausted and just wanted something to eat. We continued to press on, but the woods would not end.

Finally, we could see the end of the woods, Roncevalles was in sight. We stayed in nicest hostel in the town, everything was renovated and well equipped.

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