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The road to Ayegui was the first really hard day of hiking. We woke up to freezing temperatures and sleet, which later turned into snow, and we hiked uphill all morning. This was the first of a handful of situations along the Camino where all I could do was try to not think about how hard it would be to keep walking the entire day through that kind of weather. All I could do was put in my headphones, and press on. It helped that I love to run and train for races back home in Tennessee, runners there are used to pushing their limits running through hot and humid summers, and freezing temperatures in the winter. I learned a long time ago how to push myself to the limit, and then go a little harder and faster. As much as it sucked to endure the weather we were in, the snow made the landscapes that much more beautiful.
When we finally came through our first town of the day, we saw that a small cafe was open and we decided to stop and enjoy a little bit of warmth, and breakfast. To all of our surprise, we walked in and saw Old John and his son John sitting there having breakfast. These were the 2 Irishmen who stayed at the same albergue as us the night before. On a side note, every Irish man I met for a month on the Camino was named John, strange and comical. Anyways, it was a shock to the 4 of us (Dom, Caroline, Mel, and myself) that they had beaten us to the cafe because we thought we were the first to leave the albergue that morning, and we left at 6! We hung out for a bit enjoying hot coffee, fruit, and toast, then we set back out into the cold. Of course, we made sure to have a quick snowball fight before leaving the town.
By mid morning, the snow had stopped and the sun had risen over the horizon to warm us up to maybe around the low 40’s. By lunchtime, it had warmed up to comfortable hiking weather and I was able to hike without my patagonia down sweater. While hiking the last 7-10 km of the day, we met an American who only introduced herself as Sparky. I didn’t find out her really name until several days later. I think she was from Montana (keep in mind, I did the trip in April 2013 and I’m writing this now through my notes and memories from pictures). She was a real free spirit and fun to talk to. It was so good to finally talk to another American (You know, other than the drunk ones from a couple of nights ago, see “Roncesvalles-Larrosana Day 2” post.).
By the time we found our albergue to stay in for the night, I was leaning on my trekking pole pretty heavily to help save my knee a bit. All the uphills and downhillsfor the day really took a toll on my knees. We hiked through Estella, where the John Brierley guide told us to go, and decided to settle in Ayegui for the night. We chose to stay at the San Cipriano de Ayegui. The hostel provided the basics, but we were pretty much just sleeping in a basement. I didn’t really complain about my accommodations for the majority of the trip. All I wanted was a hot shower, a bed, and a place to eat nearby. Those were my standards. The San Cipriano de Ayegui was pretty much like a YMCA, but with beds placed downstairs. Mel had the misfortune of choosing a bed underneath a large pipe, which wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t sound like the pipe was about to burst every time we heard the toilet flush. There was a small bar upstairs with a pilgrim menu. The food was hot, that was pretty much the best part about it. Given the choice, I would stay somewhere else next time.
We were all pretty tired, but Caroline and I decided to limp to a nearby store and get some more supplies. We filled up on oranges, cheese, sandwich meat, almonds, and other snack foods to carry with us on the trail. We hobbled back to the hostel and iced down our knees, wolfed down the pilgrim menu, and laughed as a Korean girl recording Dom sleeping and snoring like a grizzly bear.
Distance: 23 km (roughly)
Accommodations: San Cipriano de Ayegui- Showers were hot, but no privacy. Bathrooms were crowded since the hostel was apart of a gym. Sleeping quarters looked like they were out of a horror film, but we were warm and dry. I can’t imagine trying to stay here in the summer. Pilgrim menu is available upstairs at the bar, but it wasn’t very tasty. I give this place 2 stars. I’d keep going till you found someplace better if I were you.