Day 6: Camino del Norte

Mileage: 24.5
Total distance: 119.1
Calves cramping from sunburns. Heels throbbing from pavement. Head pounding from heat. Trying to put in bigger miles is proving to be more of a challenge than I thought. I tried today to start early and left before the sun rose to have most miles done by noon, but even having only 5 miles left I was once again dominated by the sun. 

  • My tiny amount of off road hiking. Woo…

I have heard a bunch of hikers complain about road walking and how after a few days it will really start to mess with your feet, but I never fully believed the intensity they seemed to be expressing. Today was nothing but a road walk. Except one small rocky path down and out of Bilbao. 
Surprisingly I felt fairly strong when I woke up this morning. My sunburn wasn’t raised, my feet felt stable, my body felt rested. I had a nice stroll through small towns on the outskirts of Bilbao and eventually joined back up with the ocean in Pobeña. I took a long swim to cool down and stretched for a while before finishing my day with a six mile road/highway walk to Castro Uridales. 

I ended up taking a wrong turn on one of the confusing splits on the highway and after a few kilometers realized what I had done. At this point my calves were aching. I’m still not sure why, but I wonder if my sunburn is so bad that it has affected the muscles in my calves? Is that a thing? Whatever the case this was the worst time to get turned around. My head began to do the dizzy thing and my calves began their throbbing. Instead of back tracking I decided to make a direct attempt to getting back on trail. In order to do this I had to cross a major highway, almost interstate like with four lanes on both sides and scale down a steep cliff side and wonder through private land for a few hundred meters before I made it. So I waited for the perfect moment when cars were minimal and sprinted with all I had across the highway and jumped the cross barrier to begin my decent down the cliff. There were scattered trees along the cliff so I decided to jump from tree to tree and scale down the side using them as anchors as I descended. After a few sketchy jumps I made it down to a graded road and was met by a very unfriendly pig in the back of someone’s land. The pig sounded the alarm and spooked me more than it probably should have. I jogged/ran away from the pig and towards a fence, hopped it and ended up in a field with twenty more pigs. All of which immediately looked at me with suspicion and slowly huddled together with grunts and all sorts of goofy pig noises. I chuckled at how ridiculous this all was and how stupid I was being for not backtracking in the first place. I felt really irresponsible and disrespectful, but felt incapable of making wise decisions with my body feeling the way it did while the heat only grew by the minute. Eventually I made it out of the pig den and hopped a few more fences with aggressive, barking, chained up dogs and found myself back on trail. 

  • Looking forward to this. 

Sluggishly I wondered through the city of Castro Urdiales where I was going to meet some friends from back in California, but had to stop a few times to drench myself with cold water when I began feeling more dizzy than I had before. After a long, draining walk through the town I found my friends and felt an overwhelming peace being in the comfort of familiarity. Feeling physically defeated is one thing, but feeling that alone in a foreign country adds a whole new aspect that I’m not enjoying at all. 

We hung out at the hostel for a bit before heading to the ocean where we swam and I got to cool off and explore some underwhelming caves. I slowly began to feel more stable and less dizzy in the water. 
After the swim we went and had an amazing dinner at a kebab shop and bought a bottle of wine to take back to the hostel where we sat and talked and drank for an hour or so before winding down. 
Tomorrow is another 101 degree day and after these past few days I’m going to take it slow tomorrow and spend a lot of time submersed in cold water hanging out with these two familiar faces. The next few days after that the weather begins to cool off majorly and I hope to be back on my feet and headed west feeling strong and healed. For now it’s feet up and bottles up. National hike naked day tomorrow and you best believe I’ll take advantage of every moment I get. 

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