Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bernedo - Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés

GR1 Sendero Historico day 16.
Distance: 31.0km (483.0km), time spent: 09:06.
Waymarking: Good, but inadequate just after Angostina.
Weather: Nice.


Today, it was my emotions that was put to the test. For five years ago, I walked the Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, that was the journey that sparked my interest for long distance trails. GR1 is crossing Camino Frances in Los Arcos and I know in advance that it will be emotional for me when I get there, the memories are still strong. Circumstances would cause these emotions to appear one day before expected, but it was not in Los Arcos they appeared.

Bernedo in the morning.

In the morning in Bernedo, I woke up to a foot that did not feel all too good, I wore a small air of resignation. I had little hope in being able to finish. The youth hostel served breakfast, and then I continued with a hint of uncertainty, it was not a good feeling. The foot turned out to be more cooperative as soon as I had gotten a little bit on the way.

Collaborative was however not the waymarking, after the small quiet village Angostina I went the wrong way, not just once, but twice. First, I had gone astray and followed a clearly defined forest track down to some fields. By right going through a lovely forest with sunlight flashing through the leaves on the trees, but oh so the wrong way. By the fields, I could see the small lake that was marked on the map in the guidebook and could ascern that my location was not consistent with where the trail was supposed to go. Higher up, after backtracking, I relocated the red and white stripes again, hidden behind and overgrown trail.

On the wrong way after Angostina, a pleasant walk, but so wrong.

Happy to be back on track, I continued on. Past a snake lying undisturbed on the path. Then a thought began to fester in my mind. Arriving at a junction, my assumption was confirmed. I had taken the wrong GR1 variant after Angostina, where the trail splits and one route goes to Santa Cruz de Campezo by San Roman de Campezo. That was the route that I had been walking on, and it was not the recommended route according to the guidebook, but it was too late to turn back. There were four kilometres back to Angostina, no way.

Balsa de Sota, on my walk between the two variants of the GR1.

I did not walk to San Roman de Campezo either; on the signpost in the junction, there was one sign pointing the way to Cabredo. That village was on the recommended GR1 variant. Ok, so I had to accept that I would not be walking on the proper trail for a short while and that the purist in me would suffer some dents in the pride. However, that damage had already been done earlier on the trail, so no tears were shed for that reason. Looking at it with positive eyes, it was actually a better choice, the detour enabled me to take a better look at the small lake, Balsa de Sota.

Small figurines made of flowerpots in Genevilla.

High up in a secluded area of Sierra de Codés is Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés, that was at least how I saw it for myself after reading about the place. In my minds eye, I saw a church in an isolated place that it was troublesome to get to, a place that in certain circumstances would gain an aura of mystery. It should be possible to sleep there, at the Hospederia de Codés. Something that I wanted to, but after having wasted time taking the wrong turn and for the sake of my foot, I was unsure if it would be a good idea.

A vulture keeps an eye on me between Genevilla and Santa Cruz de Campezo.

It was not only due to the availability of accommodation that I wanted to cross the Sierra de Codés today, the weather was nice and the ridge bore promises of great views. The weather predictions for tomorrow was not good. In a lively Santa Cruz de Campezo, I tried to call the Hospederia de Codés, but there was no one answering. Trying my luck at the local bar, the waitress asked someone she knew, who said that it was a quiet and peaceful place, where I could just sleep in the peloton court. I found it odd that there was a peloton court in the secluded place I had envisioned it to be. With so much vivacity, as well as a good cold serveza con limon, it was difficult to continue walking again.

Climbing up through the woods after Santa Cruz de Campezo towards Sierra de Codés.

The walk across the Sierra de Codés ridge was incredible. Climbing up to it was nice, but it was first when I got up to the top of the ridge that the magic began. I was literally screaming with joy as I walked over the ridge with unobsctructed views to both sides, which just exaggerated the point that I missed walking higher up. However, the wind was not merciful up there, but there was very little that could spoil my mood of that moment. The ridge was undulating slowly up and down towards the two peaks of Laplana and Joar. Looking out from the ridge, I could also see the landscape that awaited me in the upcoming days, the flat plains of Navarre lay stretched out in the direction of the trail.

At the top of the Sierra de Codés with the ridge in front of me with Laplana and Joar at the back.

Located below Laplana and Joar was the outline of the walls of an old farm, places to pitch my tent that I regretted not taking the advantage of at the moment. When I got to the pass between the peaks, I wanted to turn back and walk across the ridge once more, just like rewinding to see a part of movie you like again. Cliffs rose up from below, the trail went steeply down below them, I could see the roofs of the sanctuary below. There was one tiny disappointment though, the place was located much lower down than what I had envisioned.

At Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés, I was at ways end, I trudged tiredly into the Hospederia de Codés. There were people there. A party of a kind, so the restaurant was open, but the accommodation was not. Camping was not allowed. To climb back up the steep trail again was not an option. It was great location, it would have been really cool to stay the night. I grabbed a cold beer while I was wondering what I could do.

Sierra de Codés, an amazing ridge walk.

That is when you discover what is so wonderful with walks like this and the encounters with people occurs. Some of the guests at the party were from Torres del Rio and could drive me there or stop by Los Arcos if I wanted to. At this point, I am already noticing a small knot of emotions about to emerge when I think of staying in Torres del Rio. Although, it might have been smarter to stay in Los Arcos, I cannot give away this opportunity (if I go to Los Arcos, I could leave my backpack behind there tomorrow and walk back without it, slackpacking, I do not care). They call and arranged a bed for me at the same albergue that I stayed in when I walked the Camino Frances, La Pata de Oca.

The pass below Laplana and Joar, where the path goes steeply down to Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés.

So on exactly the same day as for five years ago, I go through the gates of the albergue. It feels very strange and I probalby walk with a stupid grin on my face past the chairs where the pilgrims are sitting and resting. I pass by where I sat reading and found out that I had been bitten by a tick. Any time to sit down and take in the emotions, I did not get, I was beckoned over to a table and then I was back in the pilegrimage world again. At the table sat Johan from Sweden, a pilgrim from Latvia and two Spaniards. There were some curious expressions around the table when I told that I was not on the Camino, but on a completely different trail and mostly went completely alone.

Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Codés.

Being able to speak Norwegian again felt good, Johan lived in Barcelona and would only a section of the Camino, he had begun walking in Pamplona. I ate dinner together with the group, a reunion with menu del peregrino. Learned that the small bar where Nathalie had danced salsa and a group of Koreans had danced to a karaoke on the tv five years ago was closed. At last I got some time for myself, when the pilgrims went to bed and I could quietly sit down and think about all the experiences and emotions of the day.

<- BernedoLos Arcos ->

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