Day 1 - To Roncesvalles

May 28, 2014 - Distance Traveled: 25.1 km -

I am standing outside of the albergue just before we started walking. It was about 6:45 in the morning. In the background you can see other pilgrims readying themselves to take the first steps toward Santiago. In the moment I had many questions about whether I would be able to get up and over the Pyrenees mountains. I had put in my fair share of training, but you hear varying reports about how difficult the first day can be. In a matter of hours, I would find out for myself, but for now, I was happy I would not be setting out alone. Last night at dinner, several of us decided to begin together. A Camino family was already beginning to form.

We took route 1, the Neapolitan Route.

Drizzle turned to rain as we set out from St. Jean. Soon after we began walking we had to stop and put on our rain gear. By the time we arrived at Roncesvalles we were soaked. Still, it was beautiful, even if some sections were quite muddy. There were not many places to stop and rest given the soaking the land took that day.

I arrived at the outskirts of Roncesvalles around 3:00 pm. Brant and Litsa were with me. They had also been at the communal dinner the night before. We washed our shoes off is a small stream before we made our way to the albergue. I was grateful, even thought we had separated during the day, to see so many of the people I had set out with this morning were on the same floor. Soaked to the bone, the first order of business was to get a warm shower, change into dry cloths, then wash the ones I had been wearing. The balance of the afternoon and evening were spent resting, participating in the Pilgrim's Mass and blessing, and sharing a Pilgrim's meal. At dinner we met three young men from Pennsylvania. It was easy to share their enthusiasm for the Journey we had all just embarked upon.

One of the hardest days was behind me, and the question I had been holding throughout the day was answered, I was able to cross the Pyrenees in one day. It was both a mental and physical challenge. I laid down that night feeling good that I had met it.

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