Mileage: 24.7 Total distance: 67.4
I’ve met a lot of hikers who say the desert is their favorite environment to hike in because of the rugged, harsh weather and terrain. That will never be something I say. At the beginning of the PCT I would go to sleep feeling like I had the flu because I was so dehydrated and exhausted from the heat. I’m not sure why I still haven’t figured out how to hike in intense heat, but laying on this cold wooden floor alone in an empty hostel I am yet again feeling wwwwooorrrkkkkeeedddd.
Despite the heat, today was beautiful. I woke up early to the sound of people in the hostel crunching up their belongings into their packs and getting ready for the day. The air was cool and crisp walking out of the hostel. I looked across the train tracks and waved to the ocean and began a slow, low-grade climb southwest into the hills.
What’s cool about the Camino del Norte is the it doesn’t take long to get seclusion and distance from city noise. However, I was accompanied by many hikers for the first few hours of the day and I’m glad for it because as I was lost in my own hypnotic state I began down hill on a wrong path and was chased down by a Spanish man named Chris who politely informed me of my mistake. I began up the path talking with Chris and spent the next 6 kilometers hearing about the past tension between people in the Basque Country and the political leaders of Spain. It’s crazy that only seven years ago there was a small militia still killing politicians bleeding over from priests rebelling against the dictator in the 60’s. People in the smaller towns still feel independent from Spain and are quick to tell you.
After Chris and I got into town we parted ways. I kept on as he stopped for lunch and gave me a sweet touch on the shoulder while telling me how enjoyable it was to get to know me. I eventually stumbled upon a monestary and found a nice shady area and sprawled out all of my things while looking mangy and trashy. Luckily no monks came by during my ten minutes there.
I kept on for a long time walking slowly rolling hills with a trail that was graded and smooth. I was looking for a hostel after a small town called Mitibar, but somehow missed the turn for it and found myself three kilometers past where it was supposed to be. At that point I could either push on to Gernika or find a place to camp, but fearing upsetting any farmer I decided to strap in and push to Gernika with an empty water bottle.
My calves were blistering red and my thighs had heat bumps all up and down. Also, major chafe in the ass region. I hiked fast trying to hide from the sun as much as possible. It almost turned into a game, but not a very fun game. Every time the sun hit my legs my whole body felt like it was erupting in flames. I kept a solid pace for a few kilometers when I saw a sign for a hostel only 500 meters away and was filled with joy deciding that I’d pay whatever it took to get me out of the sun.
I walked up to the hostel and found a shirtless Spanish man who very kindly took me inside and for 12 euros gave me a bed, shower and a beer! Also, there is only two other hikers here who are a couple in the other room so I have an entire room and patio to myself. It will most likely stay that way since it seems not a lot of people hike after four on this trail.
I’ve settled in now and after a long shower did my daily foot exercises and ate some trail food for dinner for the first time. Tomorrow I head to Bilbao, one of the trails largest cities, and will find some sunscreen.