Today we reached the highest point of our Camino, altitudinally speaking. We set off just after sunrise (er, that’s almost 8.30am these days) with a clear blue sky, and spent 30 minutes or so walking higher to La Cruz de Ferro – the Iron Cross – where pilgrims leave a stone from their home or some other token on the huge pile of stones. I had brought 3 little stones and we added them to the pile, then continued walking higher for a couple of hours until we reached our highest point of just over 1570 metres.
And from then on it was all downhill, but not in a good way.
Walking downhill is always more difficult than walking uphill. Loose stones can pull your feet from under you, and no matter how you approach it, long periods of walking downhill are really hard on the knees and toes. We both use our walking poles on downhill paths, and I’m sure they have saved us from a few slips and slides.
We walked through several pretty little villages, and saw a few more on the mountains on either side of us. Mostly stone buildings with black-painted slate roofs.
We had intended stopping at Ponferrada this afternoon, but by the time we reached Molinaseca, 8kms before Ponferrada, our knees were so shaky that we decided to call it a day earlier than we intended. We have done just over 20kms, and descended 950 metres today. We have one more high climb and steepish descent to do in a couple of days, then after that the terrain doesn’t seem to vary much more than a couple of hundred metres at a time, all the way to Santiago.