We woke very early but since we were hoping for an early start, we were game to just get up and get going. Breakfast was the usual fare when it was laid out ahead of time for us, but at least the coffee maker had just been set up but I got to turn it on once we were ready and hot coffee on a cold day was good.
We were out the door by 8:00, which perhaps was a record for us—at least under our own volition. The hour by hour forecast seemed good and so we decided to stick with our plan but knowing that we’d have to assess as we went. There was heavy frost on all the roofs and a bitter wind as we headed out. The town’s teenagers were the main other folks out and about, gathering where it looked as though they must be waiting for a bus to school.
We were on the road for the first while as we left town, then eventually turned onto a good track. The dirt track was quite muddy in spots and we had to tread carefully. After about an hour or so we decided we needed to add more layers. Usually the exertion of walking was enough to keep us warm, but not today. It was a bit awkward to strip down and then get dressed again on the side of the track but we knew it was super important to not get chilled. We added our long johns, an extra shirt and for me my light cotton scarf to protect my face which was where I felt most cold. Those extra garments made all the difference and the few flakes of snow never turned into anything more. This stretch of track had really good Roman milestones as well as crosses at various points which we took to be stations of the cross as they rose towards the summit.
The windmills we were heading towards looked snowy so we had some trepidation, but the landscape was stunning if a bit bleak. As we climbed up, it got more beautiful and the sun came out. There were many paths that crisscrossed the hillside, but all leading in more or less the right direction.
Eventually the trail got much steeper and we came to the first of the windmills. Here there was a scattering of snow on the ground, but nothing that really amounted to much. I was still expecting much more of a climb to reach the summit (we are from BC where there are some good sized mountains), when suddenly we were there. A cross and cutout statue of Santiago marked the summit as well as numerous cairns where we each added a stone. The views off to the east were marvellous.
The decent was very steep and I was glad for my walking poles. Soon we were at the bottom and emerging onto a road. We stopped in a small copse of young oaks for a wonderful picnic. We were so glad to be out of the wind and in the sun and really pleased to have had that challenge behind us. Although the guide described it being an on-road monotonous stretch after the pass, there is now mostly an off-road path that was very pleasant, but still very long. Finally we came to the signposted turn off the main camino (but on the Eurovelo bike route) for the last two kilometres to San Pedro de Rozados. It was the easiest, non-check in we’d had on our whole trip. “Rest and then come down later to register. Dinner at eight. Here’s the key.”
Our room was cold but a space heater was warming the bathroom for us and after excellent, hot showers we moved it to the room which then started warming up nicely. We had opted for the nicer sounding place mainly to ensure we’d have heat so were relieved once we knew we’d be warm enough. We went out to explore the sweet little town, but it was bitterly cold so we didn’t linger. There was a delightful shop and although we meant not to buy too much—tomorrow being our last day of walking—there were dried figs, and mixed nuts and dark chocolate with turron and we couldn’t resist. We’d go out in style for our last day.
Dinner was delicious and once we let the proprietor (and cook) know we ate fish or chicken but not other meat, she just brought us food. The dining room was cold, it being large and more suited to a busier time, but we soon warmed up over steaming plates of mushroom rice and very good red wine (once again I had just been brought the bottle to help myself from) followed by fried bacalao. Well stuffed we decided that we’d just head out first thing rather than waiting until breakfast would be served. The next town was in four kilometres and that would make a good spot to stop.