Day 12: Camino del Norte

Mileage: 34.2 
Total distance: 246.1

I woke up this morning to the lights in the hostel turning on and when I sat up everyone had left except one other hiker. I heard rain coming down outside and wished to sleep longer, but was nervous to overstay my welcome with everyone else gone. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to stay or not, but I was anxious enough to get up and leave. I stepped outside into a light mist with gloomy clouds and a salty smell in the air. I began walking down a paved road when I saw a cow acting strangely further down the way. I noticed a white van and a man outside of the car acting strange and flustered moving quickly about his car.  This next part is a bit gruesome so read with discretion. As I got closer I noticed there was something hanging off the back of the cow, but I still couldn’t see what it was. It looked like matted fur on the cows tail swaying as the cow walked with a painful gait, but I got close enough to tell what it was. In the process of birth, it seems the calf had gotten stuck and died and now was hanging halfway out of its mother who was in a great deal of distress. When I realized what I was seeing I gasped and felt nausea in my stomach and a tightness in my throat; dead baby cow, purple tongue hanging out of its mouth, wet fur and slimy from birth hanging halfway out of its mother. It took me a few moments to really understand what I was looking at, but when I snapped out of it I made a motion to the farmer if I could help, but he shook me away and seemed like he wanted me to leave. So I did. 

This was not how I expected to start this day. I tried to walk off the image, but it stuck in my mind pretty heavily for a long while and the rainy, gloomy day set a rather subdued and weighty head space for the first half of my hike. The contrast with the first half and the second half is astounding. 

I walked with a quick pace this morning in the rain and blew through 15 miles by noon. I landed in Llanes and ate my lunch and ordered my second grande coffee of the day; I’m getting addicted. I watched a few bikers make new friends with other bikers and then police come over and ask them to move their bikes. It was interesting watching all the different faces people made when emotions changed or atmospheres shifted. I sat feeling pretty lonely for a while and still shaking off the morning’s disturbance and after an hour I stood up to finish my day. 

I was hoping the sun would come out because I was seeing so much potential in my views, but it was a consistent tease and I wanted the real thing. However, a few kilometers after Llanes the rain stopped and the trail lead me down a wide gravel road close to the ocean and I began to see some absolutely breath taking access points. I couldn’t resist the beauty and found a nice spot to take my clothes off and swim around for a while. 

I explored some small islands with knifed edges making it hard to climb on and swam into little pockets of water surrounded by towering rock formations while waves found their way into my pools and gently tossed me around. It was paradise; clear, blue water and white sandy beaches with green islands and jagged rocks. 

When I finished my heavenly swim I got out and looked behind me to see the Pico range towering in the sky and about lost my shit taking in all the beauty around me. This trail is breath taking. Well at least the places it takes you are. If only I could have someone to enjoy this with! It would be so much better. This made me miss my homies Tyler and Naomi. I hope they find these beaches. Damn. 

I walked on feeling light and like the morning gloom had passed. My feet began to hurt and I longed for the hostel I was looking for, but the directions got me all confused and I got lost in a small town only a few hundred meters away. Through broken language I asked a few locals and finally ended up at my home for the night greeted by a German couple and given access to teas, showers, food and a bed. Yes. 

In the moment of hiking through misery, feeling heavy and sad, I have started to sort of shut myself off and wait for things to get better because they always do. I wish I didn’t have to go numb to process or sit in situations, but today with the cow and the weather I haven’t yet learned how to transcend those powerful and dark situations without ignoring their obvious existence and waiting for things to get better. I’m glad the rain stopped today. At one point I got lost in a golf course because the fog was so thick and I just sat down for a minute and chuckled at these decisions I make to hike when conditions aren’t great. I don’t know why I do it; proving something, forcing myself to learn things I wasn’t taught growing up, making life feel hard because I have it so easy, trying to find ways to make contentment seem so desirable? All of these are probably true. I know for sure that when I hike all I long for is a slow morning reading a book and sipping coffee with people I love, but when I’m in those situations it doesn’t take long for me to feel like I’m boring or just complacent. So I need to realize those are the beautiful times and I should cherish every single one I get, but until I learn I’m going to live like this; finding ways to remind myself of the beauty in a simple life. 

2 Replies to “Day 12: Camino del Norte”

  1. As always, I enjoy reading your updates. Two things crossed my mind this morning as I was reading.
    Two or three years ago, when we were driving back from the Warrior Dash (and I think your dad was with us), we saw a mother calf belting on the side of the road as she stood over her calf, who had apparently been hit by a car. It was heartbreaking – and an image years later I still have trouble shaking. Life it precious to most creatures, especially when it’s their children.
    The second thing I thought of was the lyrics to a song that I think of often. Back in the 90s, Edie Brickell was in a band called The New Bohemians. There’s a song on their Ghost of a Dog album called Me By the Sea. A simple song, with lyrics that are powerful and meaningful to me….and might be to you in this situation:
    “I’m glad no one’s here,
    Just me by the sea.
    I’m glad no one’s here,
    To mess it up for me.
    I’m glad no one’s here,
    Just me by the sea,
    But man, I wish I had a hand to hold.”

    Prayers for your continued journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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