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Day 1: Hiking My Camino de Santiago

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

July 20, 2018


Wow. Darn Tough. Wow. I didn’t get much sleep last night. The room was stuffy and warm. Nevertheless, I left Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port at 7:20 AM, crossed the Pyrenees, and walked to Roncesvalles in Spain. It took 9 hours and 19 minutes to walk 16.24 miles door-to-door and included an elevation gain of 4,554 feet. Like I said it was tough, but it was a really great day. Much of the day you could hardly see 20 feet in front of you which meant one had to be careful not to miss the trail.

I actually prayed for a sunny day before I left America but I am glad my prayer was not answered. The cooler weather made it better if you consider tough better. But I am really grateful for this day.


I am also grateful for my hiking partner, Julia from Munich. She really was the perfect partner. I think we encouraged each other in ways few others could have.


I am also thankful for others I hiked with for portions of the hike and had dinner with later. They were Philipp from Austria, Szandra and Petra from Hungary, Astrid and Tanja from Austria.


All of us are staying in a 183-bed albergue tonight. It is an amazing place.


After dinner I attended the Pilgrim Mass with four of my dinner partners. I didn’t understand a single word but it gave me the opportunity to reflect and pray. The one word that comes to mind is GRATEFUL. I am grateful for my team and clients, for completing what will be the most physically demanding part of the Camino de Santiago, for the new people I am meeting, and for this incredible opportunity! I am even grateful for very poor WiFi and cell service!


As always, let me know if I should keep you in daily remembrance and prayer. Thank you!


By the way, this is a photo I took at some point before reaching Orisson.


To advance to the next post, click here.

See additional photos from July 20th below:

Brief descriptions of the photos:

  1. This is one of the first markers I saw leaving Saint Jean indicating I was on the Camino--The Way of Saint James. My Camino begins.

  2. The trail begins on a road, and this is a view of the Pyrenees

  3. The trail begins on a road, and this is a view of the Pyrenees

  4. A view of the Pyrenees from the road

  5. A view of the Pyrenees from the road

  6. A view of the Pyrenees from the road

  7. A view of the Pyrenees from the road

  8. The first dirt trail after leaving the paved road

  9. A view of the Pyrenees from the trail. You can see the clouds begin to move in.

  10. The Orisson cafe and albergue. Many pilgrims will spend their first night here after leaving Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.

  11. The visibility is poor, but this is the barely visible trail with three pilgrims ahead of me.

  12. There were horses, cattle, and sheep along the trail. Most of the time you would be unable to see them unless they were close to the trail.

  13. This was an important marker since it meant I need to exit the trail I was on and enter a new trail.

  14. This was an important marker since it meant I need to exit the trail I was on and enter a new trail.

  15. Julia from Munich on the trail

  16. As you can see it continues to be a day of poor visibility but it was still beautiful.

  17. As you can see it continues to be a day of poor visibility but it was still beautiful.

  18. A marker along the trail, but notice the little Teddy Bear on the top and proceed to the next photo

  19. The Teddy Bear on the marker in the previous photo

  20. A source of water along the trail

  21. Here is a shelter near the top. Today, it was quite windy and cool at this point.

  22. As you can see it continues to be a day of poor visibility but it was still beautiful.

  23. The Fellowship is beginning to form. From left to right is Petra from Hungary, Philipp from Austria, Szandra from Hungary, and Julia from Munich.

  24. A view of the trail

  25. In this photo you will see the entire Fellowship.

  26. Another photo of the Fellowship. From left to right is Tanja from Austria, Philipp, Astrid from Austria, Szandra, Julia, and Petra.

  27. Here is the Fellowship after we have showered and are about to have dinner. From left to right: Philipp, Tanja, Astrid, Julia, Petra, and Szandra. Philipp, Tanja, and Astrid are from Austria. Julia is from Germany. Petra and Szandra are from Hungary.

  28. A view from inside the cathedral at Roncesvalles

  29. A view from inside the cathedral at Roncesvalles

  30. A view from inside the cathedral at Roncesvalles

  31. A church in Roncesvalles

  32. A sign at Roncesvalles indicating we have 790 kilometers to travel to get to Santiago de Compostela. Here you can see Astrid, Szandra, Petra, and Julia.

  33. Sheep in a pasture near Roncesvalles

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