Madrid Camino Day 21 – Rabanel to El Acebo de San Miguel

May 26, 2017

Steep and wet trail today

A twenty kilometre roller coaster today. Climbing to one of the highest elevations of the Camino, then down again. And the going down was steep and rocky and was harder than anything I’ve encountered to date. The vicious thunderstorms didn’t help matters either. I’m hoping my calves will recover by tomorrow.

Had a good sleep last night after a social evening in Rabanel – a town with four albergues, four bars and a church.

The walk today took me through a couple of tiny villages – almost ghost towns – to the famous Cruz de Ferro, or Iron Cross. Evidently, these constructs pre-date the Romans and were offerings to Mercury. They also served as property markers. It seems, like most other things, they were appropriated for other uses. Now, for centuries, it has been traditional for pilgrims to set off from home carrying a stone that represents a burden one hopes to rid oneself of, and once at the cross, leave behind the stone and thus the burden. There are literally millions of stones – and other strange items including funerary urns – piled at the base of the cross. I left behind a little stone I carried from Ottawa. More importantly, and more meaningfully I think, I left the kidney stone I passed in Leon. No telling how long I’d been carrying that sucker.

Despite being replicas, the pole and cross are nonetheless impressive

Tonight I am in a fancy private albergue – almost like a hotel. Each room has four bunk beds and there is a four course dinner for 10€. I arrived having just missed a horrible hailstorm during which a number of pilgrims were injured. There are drifts of hailstones everywhere. Hoping the trail won’t be too slippery in the morning.

Stormy walking in the mountains

Tomorrow I will be in Ponferrada.