Pilgrim of the Rising Sun
Day 5 (Puente de Reina to Estella)
Distance: 13.68 miles (22KM)
Time: 4 hours, 16 minutes
“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.” —Traditional Gaelic blessing
I am beginning to settle into my life as a pilgrim. There is a habitual nature of a pilgrim’s life: Wake-prep-walk-arrive-settle-eat-rest.
In preparation for the Camino, I read numerous guidebooks and personal accounts. Everyone talked about the “bed race” that occurs during the busy season (summer). Pilgrims will leave in the pre-dawn hours to begin their hike to the next stopping location. An early departure increases one’s chance to secure a coveted bed in an albergue. It can be a stressful aspect of life on the Camino, especially during the high season.
Thankfully, I’m not walking during the busy season. Also, I took the time to pre-arrange most of my accommodations, which are in small hotels, hostels, and family run B&Bs. However, I have been waking up in the pre-dawn hours and begin my journey each day as the sun is just about rising.
I’m not chasing a bed. I’m not chasing anything—except the beauty and peacefulness of the early morning hours. This pilgrim has discovered walking in the morning hours are the most enjoyable.
Practically, it is cooler—right now about 50-55 degrees in the early morning hours. After 10 minutes of walking, the cool air begins to feel like heaven on earth. Fewer pilgrims mean the pathways are less congested and more enjoyable. An early start almost guarantees that I avoid the hottest hours of the day (2PM-4PM). Also, Europeans cities wake up later; thus, the early morning hours are far more meditative. I love hearing the birds chirp and the gentle sound of the leaves blowing in the wind.
However, the single biggest motivation for starting out early is the sheer beauty of the early morning hours. Much of the Camino’s landscape is beautiful; but in the early morning, the Camino is stunningly beautiful. Today, the first sun rays lit up the open fields and farmlands as an airy fog hung over the ground. It will be a sight I always remember (see photo above).
I imagine some pilgrims think that us “earlier risers” are anxious pilgrims and maybe some are worried about the next bed or the long distances. However, this pilgrim is enjoying the early mornings on the Camino.
As the sun rises over the Camino, I meet by my Divine Creator for the day’s long, fulfilling journey.
Lesson of the Day: The only Camino you are walking is your Camino.