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Alternate Route to Uterga ?

Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
I'm three for three regarding black toes on my right foot and during our last camino, and I earned a black toe on my left foot (so four black toes during three caminos). I'm pretty sure these were developed either during the first day with the descents into Roncesvalles or three days later during the wicked, rocky downhill hike from Alto de Perdon into Uterga. See pasted profile from Gronze.
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I recall seeing somewhere that it is possible to avoid the bruta, steep rocky downhill by taking the asphalt road into Uterga. Recall the refreshment wagon that is always at the top of the road by Alto de Perdon. I'm guessing you take the left turn from the monument and can proceed along the road all the way to Uterga? Has anyone taken this route? My wife and I are hoping to hike our 4th Camino Frances this fall (mid-Sept to late Oct) and I'd like to give my big toes some rest on the brutal downhill into Uterga.

Gracias ! Bob
 
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Marc S.

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.

Bob, maybe this is what you're looking for.

@simply B , I am pleased to read the report by @marylynn

On the other hand I am one whose feet seem to slip and slide on the type of surface presented by that descent.

Were I back on that route this is what I would now do.
1) at the summit of Alto-del-Perdon turn right on to the road;
2) down the hill (2 km) past the dozen or so windmills;
3) at the foot take the foothills road to my left (NA1110)
4) after 1 km or so take the left (NA6016) towards Uterga
5) continue nearly 4 km (passing under the Autostrada) to Uterga

This compares with 4 km on the "official" route. Most probably not as scenic as @marylynn description.

kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I have heard that you can take a detour along the road from Alto del Perdon to avoid that downhill, but I have always walked straight down. On a completely other note; blue toes are a sure sign of improper furniture placement in your apartment, in my own experience...
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
This is good advice posted by Allwyn Wellington, February 4, 2020 and cited by Marc S above. It is longer than direct downhill but much easier.

"Were I back on that route this is what I would now do.
1) at the summit of Alto-del-Perdon turn right on to the road;
2) down the hill (2 km) past the dozen or so windmills;
3) at the foot take the foothills road to my left (NA1110)
4) after 1 km or so take the left (NA6016) towards Uterga
5) continue nearly 4 km (passing under the Autostrada) to Uterga "
 
Last edited:

Katycamino

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances St Jean to Leon Sept 2013; Leon to Santiago May 2014; Santiago to Muxia and Finisterre Sept 2015; Camino Ingles May 2017
Yes can confirm this is miles easier ( though have not done the downhill route) . It was very quiet.... no other pilgrims and no traffic to speak of, and did wonder at points if it was the right route because it seemed to go on for ages. But it’s fine and takes you to the right destination. Didn’t stop the black toes but one less I guess.... 😎 Would certainly take that route the next time too.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
It takes longer but if you can zig zag down the hill and put your hiking pole into the ground in front of you first for stability and to prevent sliding. Look down and try to choose your steps a little carefully. it can be tedious and tiresome but it definitely can help.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
As a two time Frances pilgrim and a survivor of Mt Kilimanjaro my advice is to see a podiatrist before leaving home, have your toe nails cut short. The professional will ensure that the toes and nails are still healthy. Then attend to footwear. I wear boots/walking shoes with a wide toe block and wear two socks on each foot. I have also been down the alternate route MS Path advises. Hope this helps. Burn Camino.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
I went for a pedicure to trim my toe nails and scrub / exfoliate the bottoms of my feet prior to our third camino. Did not improve, in fact, it was worse. The first and second caminos, I developed one black toe on my right foot. During our third (after the pedicures), I developed black toes on both big toes and the adjacent toes - four total! I lost the nails on all four toes. And I wear sock liners and merino wool. What works for you may not work for me ! ! This time I have toe caps, lots of lambs wool, and foot glide. Hopefully the alternate route will help. If not, I can endure. Bob
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
I'm three for three regarding black toes on my right foot and during our last camino, and I earned a black toe on my left foot (so four black toes during three caminos). I'm pretty sure these were developed either during the first day with the descents into Roncesvalles or three days later during the wicked, rocky downhill hike from Alto de Perdon into Uterga.

I have also suffered this indignity.

My work around has several components:
1) wear running shoes with a flexible, open weave upper;
2) wear running shows that are several sizes larger than my street shoes
3) wear XL sized hose (knee length)

For me, I find the more foot length of the socks/hose fills up the space quite nicely.

I should also explain that I have wide feet but not particularly long. So the longer size gives me the extra width I desire.

From what is available locally I have found New Balance model 860 gives the flexible upper and assists in minimising foot pronation (rolling).

On a steep descent (or ascent) with a wide pathway, zig-zagging can help get to the other end, but may not prevent black toes.

Three more steep descents are:
a) coming down into Molinaseca (just before Ponferrada)
b) shortly after Fonfria (before Tricastella) over smooth rocky outcrop in places
c) coming down into Portomarin
There may be others.

@BROWNCOUNTYBOB, kia kaha (take care, be strong).
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I went for a pedicure to trim my toe nails and scrub / exfoliate the bottoms of my feet prior to our third camino. Did not improve, in fact, it was worse. The first and second caminos, I developed one black toe on my right foot. During our third (after the pedicures), I developed black toes on both big toes and the adjacent toes - four total! I lost the nails on all four toes. And I wear sock liners and merino wool. What works for you may not work for me ! ! This time I have toe caps, lots of lambs wool, and foot glide. Hopefully the alternate route will help. If not, I can endure. Bob
Bob, it may be that you need to be aware of your walking technique and possibly change it.

I found that I was getting Black toe because I was unconsciously using my toes to "grip" the ground, even though they were not in contact with the ground. I learned to relax my toes as I walk downhill and this fixed my Black toe.
 

Caligal

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF April 4- May 12, 2018
CF Sept 10-27 2019
CP Sept 28- Oct12 2019
C Finisterre Oct 16-Oct 20
I took the trail my 1st Camino, then road my 2nd. Road wins hands down, little traffic, only remember 1 spot that had no shoulder to walk on. Funny moment, a taxi stopped and asked if I wanted a ride. I stayed on trail after Alto Perdon walked through Acebo and picked up the road at the end of town right after the new Albergue la Casa del Peregrino. BTW this was one of the nicest albergues on my walk. Buen Camino 🚶🏽‍♀️Dee
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
It's interesting how we all perceive things differently.
Perhaps it's down to our footwear, gait, weather and a host of other things.

I was so worried on my first CF about the downhill into Zubiri that I took the road route.
Almost ended up as a 'bumper mascot' 3 times :oops:

Next time went straight down the hill, no problem.

Never had any difficulty down from Alto del Perdon.
Tried that in the dry and the wet.
Just needs a bit of care.
I zig zag down it.

But from El Acebo down to Molinaseca!
Urggg. hardest part of the CF for me.
Totally wrecks my feet and shins :(
 
Last edited:

makingtrax

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
El norte2010
Portuguese 2014
Primativo 2016
Frances sept 2017!
I have also suffered this indignity.

My work around has several components:
1) wear running shoes with a flexible, open weave upper;
2) wear running shows that are several sizes larger than my street shoes
3) wear XL sized hose (knee length)

For me, I find the more foot length of the socks/hose fills up the space quite nicely.

I should also explain that I have wide feet but not particularly long. So the longer size gives me the extra width I desire.

From what is available locally I have found New Balance model 860 gives the flexible upper and assists in minimising foot pronation (rolling).

On a steep descent (or ascent) with a wide pathway, zig-zagging can help get to the other end, but may not prevent black toes.

Three more steep descents are:
a) coming down into Molinaseca (just before Ponferrada)
b) shortly after Fonfria (before Tricastella) over smooth rocky outcrop in places
c) coming down into Portomarin
There may be others.

@BROWNCOUNTYBOB, kia kaha (take care, be strong).
My penny's worth is..... I rubbed Vicks Vapo rub onto my feet every night on The Frances just before getting in sleeping bag. 32 nights worth and used a whole jar. No blisters or scaly feet. My toes stayed in one piece as I wore 2 pairs socks. Always used my poles. And on the Camino was wearing an unbroken in pair of Hunting Shoes from Decathalon costing 19euros! My son had locked my original walk shoes in house and gone to Poland for 6 weeks. Bon Camino and Kia Kaha from N Z.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
On steep downhills I slalom from side to side if necessary. I find the walk down from the Alto tricky because of the rolly pebbles, but have always been OK. No so my daughter, who managed to throw out her knee. She was incredibly grateful for my two trekking sticks (at which she had previously looked with scorn) to hobble her way into Uterga.
 

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