Crossing the Pyrenees

We had only met in person the day before when we linked up at the airport in Paris, the long train and bus journey to reach Saint Jean had provided some time to get to know one another.  Scratching the surface really.

The night before our walk begins we have dinner together at a quaint local restaurant in Saint Jean Pied du Port, France.  Although everyone is travel weary, we are excited to begin the hike in the morning.

Earlier in the day, we had checked into the pilgrims office and to our surprise and disappointment, they told us that the scenic but difficult Napoleon route that cuts over the top of the mountain was still closed as portions were under snow.  

Jean Baptiste, my French assistant facilitating this trip, and I weren’t satisfied with that answer so we called the albergue Orrison. Its the last stopping point nearly halfway up the mountain so we asked their thoughts on the pass being clear enough to hike.  They said that it was finally clear enough to hike despite the official word stating otherwise.

We took a vote at dinner and decided to make a go at the more difficult, but incredibly stunning Napoleon route.

And so, in the morning. We took the high road knowing full well that we could have to turn back at the very peak if the weather turned or the snow proved too deep to find the path.

Our gamble paid off.  We were able to walk the incredible Napoleon route without incident and arrived safely in Roncesvalles before the sun set, probably among the first 20 or so Peregrinos to make the route this spring.  Tired and sore but very happy, we celebrated with a toast at dinner before getting some much needed rest to be ready to get up and continue walking the Camino in the morning.

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The Veterans and friends ready to begin walking


Piotr makes it to the top, Witold has a selfie stick and Casey Saunier is with us in spirit

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Jean Baptiste plays his guitar in the emergency shelter at the top of the mountain

 

10 thoughts on “Crossing the Pyrenees

  1. How fantastic that your adventure into the unknown despite its warning, paid off well! Now, we all want to see the pics of the fantastic Napoleon Route over the Pyrenees. How I long to make this journey someday in my life. Fortunately, I will my first Camino experience from Léon to Finisterre in September but I’ll be touring with a group and not necessary roughing it as the traditional pilgrims does, but I will return to begin my journey from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port for sure! Not only does the Camino beckon, but even more so, this particular hike over the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles. One day! Buen Camino and look forward to all of your updates!! Godspeed!

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  2. Glad you took the high road and proud for y’all! Been praying for you all in the mornings. Fellow vets. For peace and wholeness. Cheers!

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  3. Tell Piotr I just got a package in from Poland today. When I ordered it I had no idea where it was coming from. They make high quality stuff there. 😊

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  4. Gosh, wish I had known there was a group like this. I start my Camino on 23 May. Been planning this for almost a year. I’m doing it alone. Would have loved to run into y’all and shake the hands of fellow vets. I’m fighting my own demons and plan on doing a lot of meditation, reflection, praying and hopefully some healing. Due to my injuries, I’m taking it slow and steady. Glad my friend sent me the link when she came across it. She knows I’m obsessed with the Camino and am a fello Veteran. I just caught up in the reading. I am looking forward to reading all y’alls journey and adventures. Many family and friends don’t understand my need to do this alone and are afraid for me, but it is calling me and I have answered the call. Buen Camino y Ultreia!!!

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