Monday, September 26, 2016

Los Arcos - Larraga

GR1 Sendero Historico day 18.
Distance: 45.0km (555.0km), time spent: 11:15.
Waymarking: Absent.
Weather: Nice.

This day was the toughest on the Sendero Historico so far, both physically and mentally. Something that you would not believe when you look at how flat the landscape the trail passes through are, although the original stage was of a significant length, in the guidebook said to be 39km. I walked 45. Way too far, but that was only the physical part of it. The mental part was at the start of the day, in Los Arcos.

Low hills in the plains of Navarre.

In the morning in Los Arcos, I watched the pilgrims continue their journey towards Santiago de Compostela. Everything from groups of three to four, to two persons and some who walked alone. But even though they walked alone, they were really never alone, there is always a fellowship on the Camino. I had to concentrate hard not to put on my backpack and continue walking together with them, let the GR1 be and instead resume the memories that resides so strongly in my mind. Reliving the joy five years ago. It is not that I am not happy now, but those memories are so strong. As I was about to leave, I met a small group of Norwegians and we became standing and talking for a while. It was nice, they had walked from Le Puy, but had divided the pilgrimage into several years.

Looking back towards Sierra de Codés, the GR1 goes at the top of the ridge from the smaller peaks to the right and to the larger peaks of Joar and Laplana to the left in the picture.

To carry on is both weird and tough. Where the pilgrims almost goes together, I leave Los Arcos in a completely different direction, utterly alone. Just me alone in the loneliness. I know that from now on again, I will not meet anybody else. Earlier on the walk, it was ok, but the short period among the pilgrims has brought me back into the social embrace. In front of me, the low plains of Navarre are undulating.

Getting deeper into the flat landscape of Navarra.

Fortunately, the challenge of finding the way makes me forget the solitude for a while. Out here no waymarks exists, after years of scorching sun and inadequate maintenance the waymarks has bleached away. It is far from easy, I have to closely follow the route description in the book, and then measure how far I have walked from one point to another on the GPS. At each junction, I am unsure of which is the correct way. And in my mind, I have not forgotten that I was sent astray yesterday.

This faded information board about the trail stood outside Allo, like a monument of the waymarking of the GR1 through Navarre.

Luckily, I do not end up astray this time, I arrive in Allo as I should. And I probably followed the route faithfully enough, although there were some mishaps. Especially where the trail goes down to the remains of an ancient Roman villa by the name of Arrellano, located hidden inside an ugly building that is only open in the weekend. John Hayes recommends a more direct approach to Allo, he is probably correct.

Allo seems scruffy and worn to me, with a poor look to it. Even the information board about GR1 at the entrance to the small town has weathered in the sun, it is as if the waymarks deliberately are trying to avoid the place. In the one restaurant that I find, I munches down a platos combinados for lunch, it could almost count as a dinner, a big plate with sausages, eggs and pomme frites.

After finally having found the right way from Allo, I am approaching the highlight of the day, the ruins of Baigorri. The remains of the church with its spire can be seen to the left, the large building to the right is the former palace.

From Allo, one should follow a dirt road which runs in northeasterly direction for 4km, it is not so easy when you come to an intersection where both possibilities continues in the same direction at first. Of course, I take the wrong way, but is rescued by a vantage point (mirador) not long afterwards, where I get an overview of the surrounding land. Looking around, my gaze freezes solid on spot slightly further away, the dilapidated buildings of Baigorri has became visible.

Baigorri. The ruins of the church with the palace in the background.

I have been looking forward to Baigorri for a long time, from before I traveled down to Spain, the remains of an abandoned village that contains the ruins of a church, and a castle and a palace from the 12th century. The Count of Lerin and the Duke of Alba has previously resided in the palace. The place is magical, haunting, but the surroundings are not quite as I had seen it for me. Instead of being surrounded by desolate plains, I could see several warehouses not far away, while tractors meandered around in the fields around. How more mythical and magical Baigorri had been, if it stood solitary in a remote location.

Inside the ruin of the palace.

It was still magical, I imagine away the surroundings and let me become haunted by the place. From the mid 1900s, no one has lived here. The old palace looks like it is about to collapse, I hold my breath and take a look inside underneath the broken rafters. The church has only two walls left after the French tore down the two others to prevent the church from being used as a defense fortress again. History is breathing down my neck here. You can read more about Baigorri here (the site is in Spanish, but it works fairly good to use google translate on the site).

Leaving Baigorri after deciding upon not to spend the night in the tent there, a decision I later should regret. If I had stayed, I could have stayed here and looked at the ruins with a flaming red background.

To stay the night here would have been a fantastic and unforgettable experience, and it was my original plan to do so, yet I decide to move on. Something I would regret, but I do not feel completely safe here, feels too close to civilization perhaps. The decision is final when some youngsters passes by on an atv. I drink up the two cans of beer that I have carried with me for the evening, so I can at least say that I have been drinking a beer in Baigorri. In the guidebook it is written that I should turn right when I come to the abandoned village, which just sounds weird; if I go to the right, I will get to Baigorri.

I have never been so happy to find a waymark as I was here, after a long walk where I became more and more unsure, it was great to confirm that I was on the correct way yet.

There are about ten to eleven kilometres to go to Larraga, but it would become longer than that. When I arrive at the town, I am so tired that I can barely stagger the last steps. On a road without markings and a vague description, I became more and more unsure of whether I was on the right way or not, and after a while I decided to turn back to take another road. In the horizon, I had seen a town that matched the description of Larraga and the other way went in that direction, but that way also quickly turned to be wrong, and I had to turn back yet again and go back the way that I already had gone before. Then suddenly a faded red and white stripe appeared out of nowhere, never have I been so happy to se a waymark before.

Larraga in sight, the end of a way too long day on the GR1 Sendero Historico.

In Larraga, the sky is dyed in a blazing red colour, which makes me upset, just the thought that I could have experienced the ruins of Baigorri with a flaming background. I spend a long time finding the hotel, which to all excess turns out to be a four star hotel. It is going to be an expensive night, but that is the last thing on my mind at this moment. In disbelief, I see the numbers on the GPS telling me that I have walked 45km today. After getting a shower and changed, I stumble down to the bar and restaurant for dinner and some well deserved beers.

<- Los ArcosOlite ->

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