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Decisions and bad weather

Greetings from Astorga!

Yes, still Astorga. There has been a massive amount of snow in the last 24 hours. We went out this morning and walked to the next village where we were promptly cornered by a Spanish couple sweeping snow from the footpath, who (from what we could make out) were telling us that we should turn back. There was a lot of 'volver Astorga' and 'muy mal' and 'muy nieve' involved, and shaking heads and worried expressions and gestures that told us that further up, the snow was up to a meter deep.

So we headed into a bar and had some hot chocolate, then headed back, where we met yet another local telling us to go back. And if there's one thing Ariel and I have rememebered from all those books and winter tips and everything, it's listen to the locals.

So we're back in Astorga, where the snow is 30cm deep in the parks and there are snowmen everywhere, and contemplating what to do. No-one seems to think that the snow is going to let up (we got that much) and we're thinking me might have to catch a bus or train to somewhere where it's flatter and lower. But looking in the guidebook, the only flat bits are from Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo and then from Triacastela and Sarria onwards, where the mountains don't go quite as high. What does everyone think? What is a wise thing to do?

Looking forward to any posts!
-Jo
 
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annakappa

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Hello Jo, Well, I've been following your Blog and congratulations that you have all got to Astorga, considering the time of the year you decided to walk.
Try and look at http://www.mundicamino.com (you can then choose English instead of Spanish). Go to WEATHER along the top line of the page. Then click CAMINO FRANCES and scroll down passing all the towns along the route until you come to Astorga and places further on. From what I see, the bad weather in your area won't clear up until Tuesday! Remember to look at the ALTITUDE of the town you are interested in and then look at the icon depicting the weather over the next few days.
Looking at the Web cam with the view of O'Cebreiro just a few minutes ago, it's snowing and looks pretty deep! Obviously it would be foolish to even attempt your next stretch, say until Molinaseca until the weekend has passed. Maybe by then things will have calmed down and you could try advancing, first to Villafranca and maybe a way up the valley. At that point, if walking becomes really difficult, you could probably pick up a local bus to take you round O'Cebreiro and try to get to Triacastela and from there, you should be OK. It's a pity, because you will miss two of the most beautiful parts of the Camino, but safety must come first. We met parents of a Dutch pilgrim who died in a snowstorm this February, trying to get to Roncevalles (admitedly a higher route, but never underestimate the mountains).
In the meantime, try and find out what local bus alternatives there are, so that you can work out Plan B - or even C and D!Good luck. Anne
 

Jon-Paul

New Member
I'm in Porto, Portugal and wanting to take a train to a place 6-7 days walk from Santiago de Compostela. Thanks so much for the posts on the weather. I hope you all find a good way to continue your journey and stay safe.

Can anyone recommend a good place to start considering the number of days I'd have and the weather?

Suerte
 

sillydoll

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Jo - this is a profile map of the camino to Santiago.
From Astorga you start climbing to the Cruz de Ferro and the highest point on the camino - higher than the route over the Pyrenees.
The problem is that you are already quite high (Astorga is 2 851 ft 869m) and you'll be climbing pretty much all the way to the Cruz de Ferro (1504m).
You are very wise to consider safety first. Can anyone there advise you how to progress?
Keep warm and we'll hold thumbs for better weather.
 

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William Marques

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Jon Paul

Sarria would seem to be the obvious place if you are wanting to walk the Camino Frances (which as you have posted in this section of the forum I think you do). The right side of the mountains and far enough to get your compostela.

Buen Camino

William
 

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Jon-Paul - as you are in Portugal, why not walk from Tui which is about 117km from Santiago - perfect for a 6 - 7 day walk.
 

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Thanks for the fast replies everyone!

We've decided to take a bus to Ponferrada tomorrow (after exploring Astorga today - beautiful place!) and then maybe wait there a day or two to see what all the people say about attempting O Cebreiro. Apparently the Cruz de Ferro has a metre and a half of snow, or so we've heard from some other pilgrims. While we're a bit sad about not being able to go past it, we would actually prefer to see it when we do! :D But we're both going to walk the camino again in a few years, so there's always next time. For now, I think we'll play it safe... don't think mum would forgive me if I tried to make it through a meter of snow!

Good luck to Jon-Paul, hopefully your walk will not have as much snow as ours at the moment!
 

KiwiNomad06

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Wow, Jo, what an experience you are having!!!! So glad to hear you have made alternative plans. I don't imagine you young Aussies would have experienced anything like this ever in your lives?! It would be a shame if you don't get to climb O'Cebreiro, but so much better to be safe in this instance, and live to climb another day.
Margaret
 
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If the weather clears, there are buses from Ponferrada to Piedrafita do Cebreiro. You can walk up the road to O Cebreiro, then walk the road to Triacastela, Samos, and Sarria. If the roads are plowed, the footing will be good. The roads are lightly traveled, but there will be enough cars if a rescue is necessary!
 
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I was also thinking along the lines of Falcon. Once and if, the weather stabilises, you could take the bus back from Ponferrada to Pedrafita , walk to O'Cebreiro and continue from there down to Triacastela, using the road when necessary , as suggested by him. But, PLEASE, don't take any unessary risks. If in doubt, don't do it! Anne
 

anniethenurse

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Through the O Cebreiro webcam it looks like a skiing resort right now! Lots of snow and sunshine.
annie
 
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Hot Tip: Maps generally spell the name Pedrafita do Cebreiro, but ALSA spells it Piedrafita do Cebreiro, so if you want to find the bus schedule, you will need to spell it the ALSA way! I do not know if this is a corollary to the X vs. J conflict in Castellano and Gallego ...
 
In Ponferrada ow, finally a heated alergue! Had a bit of a rough arrival, as Ariel is feeling very sick today (stomach cramps and headaches) and was staggering through the city from the bus station to find the albergue. Then when we got there, we knock on the door and are shooed out by some cleaner who says that the albergue is closed unil 3pm (it as 11am)! Ariel was pretty overwhelmed and started crying until the hospitalero came out ad I explained that she was sick and needed a bed and sleep and he let us in. Bit rough, that.

Anyway, if she's better tomorrow we're going to go on to Villafranca (less snow here, a few degrees warmer too) and then to Vega de Valcarce maybe the next day and up to Cebreiro and maybe a bit further the next day, following the roads if necessary. I have a bug now that makes me want to walk and walk - I think it was the 202km marker at the albergue. But it's more detailed in the blog.

Again, thanks for all the info - I'll let you all know how we go!
 
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Alan Pearce

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Hi Jo

You are a bit hard on yourself! Congratulations for doing so well in your H.S.C. Have a great time at uni.

You did the right thing in not walking in dangerous conditions. And it would not have been only your Mum who would have worried if you had continued on. You have a lot of cyber-friends out here who would also have been very concerned.

Best of luck for you and Ariel for the rest of your trip. This is gunna be a Christmas you will never forget!

Alan

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Tee hee...

Climbing up to O'Cebreiro with 30cm of snow on the path makes you feel like an everest explorer! Seriously, it took us (there were four of us - Charlie and Thomas from Australia and Germany walked with us for a couple of days) 4 and a half hours to get from Vega de Valcarce to O'Cebreiro and that was aout 8km. Hahaha. We mainly walked in eachother's footsteps but we were still soaked and exhausted when we got to the top! Luckily the albergue was heated and we got to warm up quickly... and there were warm showers which were wonderful! (Hard to come by at the moment... as is heating.) We are crazy crazy pilgrims but we made it and it was awesome and I could probably go home now and feel like I've finished my pilgrimage. Which I won't, of course, because I already decided that in September I am coming back to walk from Le Puy before heading back to Australia!

Anyway, that's my update. Don't walk up the mountain in snow if you're alone, and not on a Monday, because all the bars are closed! Every single one we passed was closed. We are in Triacastela now and are planning to stop in San Mamed at the albergue there tomorrow and for Christmas eve and sending out lots of messages to other pilgrims on facebook and telling them to join our massive christmas eve dinner!!! Anyone know if the supermarkets in Sarria will be open on the morning of the 24th??
 

KiwiNomad06

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I have been thinking of you and wondering whether/if you were able to make it up O'Cebreiro safely. It is great that you had company for the climb, and what an adventure the snow made it! Merry Christmas Jo!
Margaret
 
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Well done, both of you! I have been looking at O'Cebreiro on the Web-cam and saw all that snow - with only a few footprints on the path leading to the Albergue. I wondered whether they were yours! This has certainly turned out to be an adventure that you won't forget. Now that you are in Triacastela, the paths still go a bit up and down, but the weather should be milder. Not so much snow - probaby quite a lot of rain. Great that you had company while walking up to O'Cebreiro. I wonder if you had any views of the surrounding mountains? - or were you walking under a snow cloud?
I wish you both a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas. Anne
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
Very glad that you made it OK!
That's a tough hill in the summer.
I can't imagine it with 30 cm of snow.

Hiking with other pilgrims was very wise.
Each pilgrim taking turns to break trail.... the added effort of lifting your feet high enough to clear the snow is really exhausting.

Have a blessed Christmas,
And a Christmas Eve Dinner you will never forget.

David, Victoria, Canada
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
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Many, various, and continuing.
Jo and Ariel
You are my heroes! Chicas valientes!
We met a gang of six Korean pilgrims in the snow yesterday; they are skipping ahead as they´re running short of time, and you may just run into them. They are right in your part of the trail. They are having a blast, too -- what a crew they would be, to have Christmas with!

in any case, we will be thinking of you here when we light the candles and carve the apple tart!

Rebekah
 

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