Camino Trip Notes: Stage 12 (Belorado to San Juan de Ortega)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Distance: 24.3 km

7:23 – They kick you out of this place at eight bells so I’m up and ready to go at 7:23. I’ll skip the instant coffee, crusty bread and nearly fruit-free jam and take my chances with a bar on the way out of town.

7:45 – I did find one open business on the edge of town but for a while it looked like I’d be walking 10km before I got a shot of caffeine. I know, horror of horrors, right? The cafe con leche and warm chocolate croissant at this utilitarian truck stop were as good or better than anything you’d get at a 5-star hotel in many countries – including mine.   

10:28 – I’ve been walking for the past hour with a father and son from Calgary. Like the Shediac, New Brunswick father-son duo that I met on Stage 2, this father (Robert) is also recently retired and the son (Sean) is also a paramedic.  The two sons look very similar as well.

11:21 – I arrive in Puerto de la Pedraja and walk through about 90% of the town before coming to a pub that’s simply too nice to skip.  That’s not the pub (above) but rather the side entrance to the local church.

I sat at an outdoor table and used my new Swiss Army Knife to pick some dried mud off my boots before entering the bar.  This guy must have sensed that I was a friend as he spotted me from about 10 meters and made a beeline for my lap.  Talk about a purring machine!  

12:28. It’s been overcast all morning but the sun is shining gloriously here at the 1150′ meter level.  A 6% grade doesn’t sound like much but when it goes on for hour after hour, your calves let you know that a rest is in order.  Thankfully there was a picnic area at the top of this grade and I met a group of four Torontonians who were very happy to talk about home.  That’s not something I get to do very often!

Peggy (above) is from Queen & Victoria Park (Toronto) and clearly the fastest of the three T-Dot Trekkers. She walks at her own pace but has time to read a chapter of her book at every bar and cafe while waiting for her friends to limp into town.

14:10 – This stone hut doesn’t look like much but I found a reference to it on another Camino blog.  According to MadillCamino2014, “This is all that remains of the ancient monastery of San Felices de Oca. Its origins date back to the Hispano-Visigoth time in the 6th century; there was already documentary evidence of its existence in 863, when Count Diego Rodríguez Porcelos, founder of Burgos, donated several churches and lands to the monks of San Felices. According to tradition, the count was buried here, and the monastery continued to prosper until 1049, when the King of Navarra handed it over to the monks of San Millán. … Archaeologists have confirmed that the foundation is Visigothic and that they reused Roman materials. … San Felices, or Felix the Hermit, lived between the 4th and 5th centuries.”

15:01 San Juan de Ortega will be as far as I get today. I have some circulation issues in one ankle and should probably be wearing compression socks. I hate the things so never wear them and now after walking for so long and likely being dehydrated for a day or two, I have a throbbing pain in one ankle.  If they sell grampa socks in Burgos, I might get a pair.  Might.

18:50 – Dinner at the municipal Albergue was basic but not bad for 8€. For ‘desert’ I chose a hot shower and will be in bed by 20:00. 

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