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Don’t underestimate cold in Pyrenees

F

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We crossed from Orisson Tuesday September 21 and I wish I had full finger gloves. My toes and finger remained numb the entire descent and it was VERY windy. So grateful when I saw the gentleman with the van selling coffee, tea, bananas, eggs and more! Also, no money in ATM on way out of Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port on Monday morning. Suggest getting money when it is available! Gorgeous and so worth the walk.
 
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mspath

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Past OR future Camino
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Indeed. Be prepared.
If in the Pyrenees you are walking the Valcarlos alternate CF route to Roncesvalles do be aware that
between Valcarlos and Roncesvalles there is no place to buy food nor is there potable water.
 
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Corned Beef

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
VDLP 9/2022
Crossed mid-September and was caught out in heavy rain. There is a stone shelter just over the border - can't remember the exact spot - that provided welcome relief for about 6 of us.

No social distancing when it is cold and wet.
 
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Robo

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CF SJPdP to SdC
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Yes, very unpredictable. At exactly the same time of year, (late April) I have walked in:

  1. Blue skies, no wind, sun.........
  2. 100% cloud low cover, freezing temperatures and high winds.
#1 was glorious, just wore a shirt and required frequent stops to take in the views.
#2 was head down, shirt, fleece, rain jacket, and 'let's get through this'. Too cold to stop.

But both were great :)
 

biarritzdon

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Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
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Regarding the ATM issue, banks in France are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so if there is high demand for withdrawals over the weekend they are certainly likely to be out of cash to dispense on a Monday.
 
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FLEUR

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2012 - 2016
Voie de Paris / Tours Aulnay to Saintes 2017
Camino del Baztan 2018
June 2012 à beautiful walk to Orrisson, hot sunny day. Next day a howling gale for our walk to Roncesvalles. We saw a French man stop and put socks on his hands. It was hard to stop without getting blown over.
The concrete bunker/ shelter was like a United Nations refuge, pilgrims queuing to go inside to delve in rucksacks for extra layers of clothing and a bite of a sandwich.
Memorable to say the least !
 

Sharonih

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
CF (SJPdP to Santiago) March 15, 2018
We crossed from Orisson Tuesday September 21 and I wish I had full finger gloves. My toes and finger remained numb the entire descent and it was VERY windy. So grateful when I saw the gentleman with the van selling coffee, tea, bananas, eggs and more! Also, no money in ATM on way out of Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port on Monday morning. Suggest getting money when it is available! Gorgeous and so worth the walk.
Absolutely, the automatic thought is we are going to Spain so it’s warm but the reality is that we walk through the mountainous region of Northern Spain, it can be extremely cold. Worse than the cold is the head on wind, there is a reason why Spain has all those windmills
 
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Bristle Boy

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2022
June 2012 à beautiful walk to Orrisson, hot sunny day. Next day a howling gale for our walk to Roncesvalles. We saw a French man stop and put socks on his hands. It was hard to stop without getting blown over.
The concrete bunker/ shelter was like a United Nations refuge, pilgrims queuing to go inside to delve in rucksacks for extra layers of clothing and a bite of a sandwich.
Memorable to say the least !
I hope this helps in some way.
When I've walked at an altitude where the weather is likely to approach zero degrees I double glove (with warmers). This can be higher with a wind chill. I put on a pair of skin tight latex gloves with an outer layer of substantial outdoor gloves capable of being wind proof. I also insert hand warmers. This may seem a little excessive but my hands are my "achilles heel" the cold can ruin my day and bring it to an abrupt halt.
I suffer nowhere else but my fingers.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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Memorable to say the least !
Some of the most adverse days on the Camino with bad weather provide vivid, lasting memories in hindsight. I love the "few" I've experienced, but thankfully I've not had many to contend with.🙂
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
We crossed from Orisson Tuesday September 21 and I wish I had full finger gloves. My toes and finger remained numb the entire descent and it was VERY windy. So grateful when I saw the gentleman with the van selling coffee, tea, bananas, eggs and more! Also, no money in ATM on way out of Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port on Monday morning. Suggest getting money when it is available! Gorgeous and so worth the walk.
Sorry to hear about your problems. I assume you are a new pilgrim. Always plan ahead especially in these Covid times. As soon as I arrive in Spain I head to an ATM. I usually stay in a big city for a few days to recover from jet lag. Before I leave i go to the bank again. I start out with 300Euros and have another 100 in my pack as an emergency stash. When I am getting close to 100E (not counting the emergency fund). I find another ATM. It is not as important to do on the CF because pilgrim support is excellent but you should always plan ahead even if it means just checking out how far towns are for your next day. Always have some extra food just in case in Covid times especially things normally open are either out of business or closed. I will be doing the VDLP in a few weeks and there are days that I will carry food that will cover me for lunch, dinner and the following morning. Because you just never know. Buen Camino.
 

Petsu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
Very important warning! The mountains can have the weather change very quickly.

When I started second time from SJPP late April, i was talking to a youg couple from GB, and they were very suprised to hear that I was going ahead straight after arriving to SJPP. They had read the weather report 😁.

A few kilometers before the Spanis border I was hit with a heavy hail storm. Worse than any I have been in Finland - even in Lappland - and I was in my shorts. Lyckily I had a good jacket, so I turned my back to the wind and waited for the storm to end. Luckily it did not take more than about half an hour.

The downhill part towards Roncesvalles was just slippin'andslidin', as after my first Camino i had opted for shoes more fitting for asphalt and hard surface in a warm climate instead of my heavy duty Meindl boots. A couple of times my feet were up to the sky and head down to the ground, but my backpack softened the fall nicely.
 

trecile

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The downhill part towards Roncesvalles was just slippin'andslidin',
At the suggestion of the staff in the Pilgrims Office I've always taken the mostly paved path to the right on the descent into Roncesvalles as shown by the dashed line in this map.
Screenshot_20210923-092215_Firefox.jpg
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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The downhill part towards Roncesvalles was just slippin'andslidin',
I opted for the Valcarlos route in mid April 2015 and was glad I did. I arrived earlier to Roncesvalles than those who had come up over the mountain slippin' and sliddin' as you say. Their pant bottoms were all muddy and I knew they had a much harder time than me. My new friend I'd met at dinner the day before also said the high winds seemed to go in one ear and out the other.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
We crossed from Orisson Tuesday September 21 and I wish I had full finger gloves. My toes and finger remained numb the entire descent and it was VERY windy. So grateful when I saw the gentleman with the van selling coffee, tea, bananas, eggs and more! Also, no money in ATM on way out of Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port on Monday morning. Suggest getting money when it is available! Gorgeous and so worth the walk.
Crossed early April 2018. Had planned to go Valcarlos but the pilgrim office told us Napolean was open and encouraged us to take that route. Started off in glorious sunshine, really nice spring day. Stopped in Orisson and during dinner the wind started to pick up and it rained all night. Started off in not too unpleasant weather. By the time I reached the Spanish border the rain was horizontal and ice cold. It turned to hail then a snow blizzard. By thr time I got to Roncesvalles I was colder than at any other time in my life. So yes, underestimate Pyrenees cold at your peril. BTW, continued to rain non stop right into next day. Seious floods in Navarre that year
 
Past OR future Camino
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
I opted for the Valcarlos route in mid April 2015 and was glad I did. I arrived earlier to Roncesvalles than those who had come up over the mountain slippin' and sliddin' as you say. Their pant bottoms were all muddy and I knew they had a much harder time than me. My new friend I'd met at dinner the day before also said the high winds seemed to go in one ear and out the other.
my hearing aids do a grand job of preventing the wind whistling straight through. I do however put extra glue on the dentures so that they don't take flight when I sneeze and cough :)

Samarkand.
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
Sorry to hear about your problems. I assume you are a new pilgrim. Always plan ahead especially in these Covid times. As soon as I arrive in Spain I head to an ATM. I usually stay in a big city for a few days to recover from jet lag. Before I leave i go to the bank again. I start out with 300Euros and have another 100 in my pack as an emergency stash. When I am getting close to 100E (not counting the emergency fund). I find another ATM. It is not as important to do on the CF because pilgrim support is excellent but you should always plan ahead even if it means just checking out how far towns are for your next day. Always have some extra food just in case in Covid times especially things normally open are either out of business or closed. I will be doing the VDLP in a few weeks and there are days that I will carry food that will cover me for lunch, dinner and the following morning. Because you just never know. Buen Camino.
I know this is a weather thread, but since the reserve cash issue has been raised, I just wanted to remind folks that many U.S. Banks (and probably Canadian banks, etc.) offer currency exchange services, as does AAA. Be forewarned, however, that it may take a few days since some of those banks may not keep foreign currency on hand for immediate exchange. Check with your bank a couple of weeks before your scheduled departure for the details. When we go anywhere overseas--Camino or otherwise--we always take at least two or three days' worth of the local currency in a secure money belt, divided between my wife and I. If there happens to be an ATM handy somewhere on our first day of arrival, we'll supplement that as we anticipate our needs for the next few days, and keep at least a portion of our initial stake in reserve for emergencies.

Another reminder: Always look for an ATM at a local bank--the ATMs at the airport and at commercial establishments usually charge excessive fees. And DO NOT use a credit card to take out cash from a machine or a bank--that's considered a cash advance, and the company will apply a very high interest rate from the day of withdrawal (there may be exceptions, depending on the credit card company, so know before you go).
 

Petsu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2011
At the suggestion of the staff in the Pilgrims Office I've always taken the mostly paved path to the right on the descent into Roncesvalles as shown by the dashed line in this map.
View attachment 109711
Back in 1998 I had only a little knowledge of the route. Allthough much much more than on my first Camino on 1996, when I just noticed a road sign 'Espagne' in SJPP and started to follow that road😁. Ended up following the asphalt Route d'Arneguy/Carretera de Francis all the way to Roncesvalles.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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Crossed early April 2018. Had planned to go Valcarlos but the pilgrim office told us Napolean was open and encouraged us to take that route. Started off in glorious sunshine, really nice spring day. Stopped in Orisson and during dinner the wind started to pick up and it rained all night. Started off in not too unpleasant weather. By the time I reached the Spanish border the rain was horizontal and ice cold. It turned to hail then a snow blizzard. By thr time I got to Roncesvalles I was colder than at any other time in my life. So yes, underestimate Pyrenees cold at your peril. BTW, continued to rain non stop right into next day. Seious floods in Navarre that year
Interesting...the Pilgrim office advised us to take the Napoleon route in mid April 2017, saying it was going to be a glorious day. Unfortunately since I was with three family members, I had pre-booked our lodging on the Valcarlos route and through Pamplona as it was Easyer week, so it would have thrown our three bookings off by a day each, so we did not go "up and over" at their suggestion.
Your post shows me "they don't know everything". I remember being very disappointed in not being able to take their advise, but now after hearing of your experience, I no longer feel quite so bad about not doing what they had suggested.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
my hearing aids do a grand job of preventing the wind whistling straight through. I do however put extra glue on the dentures so that they don't take flight when I sneeze and cough :)

Samarkand.
I absolutely love good humor! Thank you for giving me one of my best laughs of the day! 😃
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
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Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I suffer nowhere else but my fingers.
I have suffered fingers and toes near to frostbite in our Midwest US winters. Going sledding with my boys the excruciating pain I experienced while pretendng to be happy was nearly unbearable, so I relate to your pain. I won't walk the Caminos in winter ever..thanks, but no thanks.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
There is another parallel thread going on right now about someone starting the Napoleon Route in mid-November. I tried to warn him that the path is closed from-? to ?. I could not find the dates.
 

Kev&Kath

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
My wife and I will be walking out of StJPdP on 27 Oct. From what I've read, the Napoleon route generally closes on 1 Nov (?). In my mind, and having read this sequence of posts, I think we'll be heading to Valcarlos which I'm sure is a very pleasant walk and a reasonable push for the first day. Definitely not in a rush, and quite like the idea of 'bankers hours' out of StJPdP :)
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
There is another parallel thread going on right now about someone starting the Napoleon Route in mid-November. I tried to warn him that the path is closed from-? to ?. I could not find the dates.
It is officially closed from November 1st thru March 31st. Anyone crossing during that time and needs a rescue incurs a hefty fine...and rightly so.
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I know this is a weather thread, but since the reserve cash issue has been raised, I just wanted to remind folks that many U.S. Banks (and probably Canadian banks, etc.) offer currency exchange services, as does AAA. Be forewarned, however, that it may take a few days since some of those banks may not keep foreign currency on hand for immediate exchange. Check with your bank a couple of weeks before your scheduled departure for the details. When we go anywhere overseas--Camino or otherwise--we always take at least two or three days' worth of the local currency in a secure money belt, divided between my wife and I. If there happens to be an ATM handy somewhere on our first day of arrival, we'll supplement that as we anticipate our needs for the next few days, and keep at least a portion of our initial stake in reserve for emergencies.

Another reminder: Always look for an ATM at a local bank--the ATMs at the airport and at commercial establishments usually charge excessive fees. And DO NOT use a credit card to take out cash from a machine or a bank--that's considered a cash advance, and the company will apply a very high interest rate from the day of withdrawal (there may be exceptions, depending on the credit card company, so know before you go).
Those are all excellent points. I use my Schwab ATM card as they refund back to me any fees or extra charges I may incur.
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
I hope this helps in some way.
When I've walked at an altitude where the weather is likely to approach zero degrees I double glove (with warmers). This can be higher with a wind chill. I put on a pair of skin tight latex gloves with an outer layer of substantial outdoor gloves capable of being wind proof. I also insert hand warmers. This may seem a little excessive but my hands are my "achilles heel" the cold can ruin my day and bring it to an abrupt halt.
I suffer nowhere else but my fingers.

That latex gloving strategy has been used for quite a while by mountaineers. Commonly referred to as a Vapor Barrier Liner (VBL). The function operates similar to using a wet suit when scuba. Any 'sweat' remains inside the barrier which is kept warm by body temperature, reducing evaporative cooling. That allows better thermal effectiveness with the insulation layer of the outer glove.

Pruning of the hands can occur, leading to maceration if used over a prolonged period of time. That is remedied by applying a layer of lanolin or beeswax-based ointments just prior to gloving which helps protect the skin from the moisture. At break time, remove the gloves, dry off the hands and the inside of the plastic glove (they turn inside out as you remove them, anyway), allow time to air out a bit. Then just before departing, reapply the goop, re-glove and enjoy warm hands.

It works for cold feet during freezing temps as well. The VBL technique, not the rubber gloves. With feet, the technique does vary slightly: apply goop, put on a thin sock, put on the vapor barrier (a plastic bag can do in a pinch, then a wool or synthetic sock, then a shoe.
 
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Bristle Boy

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
That latex gloving strategy has been used for quite a while by mountaineers. Commonly referred to as a Vapor Barrier Liner (VBL). The function operates similar to using a wet suit when scuba. Any 'sweat' remains inside the barrier which is kept warm by body temperature, reducing evaporative cooling. That allows better thermal effectiveness with the insulation layer of the outer glove.

Pruning of the hands can occur, leading to maceration if used over a prolonged period of time. That is remedied by applying a layer of lanolin or beeswax-based ointments just prior to gloving which helps protect the skin from the moisture. At break time, remove the gloves, dry off the hands and the inside of the plastic glove (they turn inside out as you remove them, anyway), allow time to air out a bit. Then just before departing, reapply the goop, re-glove and enjoy warm hands.

It works for cold feet during freezing temps as well. The VBL technique, not the rubber gloves. With feet, the technique does vary slightly: apply goop, put on a thin sock, put on the vapor barrier (a plastic bag can do in a pinch, then a wool or synthetic sock, then a shoe.
Thank you Dave...I knew that when it came to equipment the expert would know why. It works/ed for me well.
Thankfully I am able to hibernate a bit over the winter months now not that the current situation hasn't enforced that a bit.
 
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Malachiuri

CaminoTranquilo
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thats really interesting Dave,

I have wind shell mitts to go over my wool gloves but have never considered a latex base layer. Gonna try that out during hunting season this year.

M
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
The advice I've given before on the forum is to bring an old sweatshirt or the like with you as far as Zubiri and then get rid of it. Now I think I'll start adding an old pair of socks and two bread bags to that.
I've worn socks as mittens on the Camino - didn't think that I'd need gloves during July and August
in Spain! Then I learned that I Cebreiro can be cold any time of year.
I usually have a couple of plastic bags in my backpack, but never thought of using them for warmth.
 
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Layering up the socks as described by various folks does involve changing the actual size (extra bulk makes the foot bigger) of the foot inside the shoe. If the foot is too too packed-in there fit problems can arise.
It's something to consider when packing.
Similar to what happens if you choose shoes while double socked and then go with single socks, the foot isn't the same size (got smaller) and things can happen.

BC to all!
 
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Allee

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Primitivo (planned)
I can only second this.
My hands suffer from the cold badly to the point of being very painful. I always carry gloves and hand warmers to add if I am ever at altitude.
Socks can make decent, impromptu mittens, not to mention puppets :)
The advice I've given before on the forum is to bring an old sweatshirt or the like with you as far as Zubiri and then get rid of it. Now I think I'll start adding an old pair of socks and two bread bags to that.
Waterproof covering for your hands works well. Solutions from plastic bread bags as you said, to dish washing gloves, to goretex mitten shells
 
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Planning on the pilgrimage 2015
Yes, very unpredictable. At exactly the same time of year, (late April) I have walked in:

  1. Blue skies, no wind, sun.........
  2. 100% cloud low cover, freezing temperatures and high winds.
#1 was glorious, just wore a shirt and required frequent stops to take in the views.
#2 was head down, shirt, fleece, rain jacket, and 'let's get through this'. Too cold to stop.

But both were great :)
That's the camino in a nut shell never know what you you are gonna get. That's why we love it.😊
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
There is a difference between an Over-Mitt vs a Vapor Barrier Liner.

I will caution against using a vapor barrier liner (VBL) OVER the thermal layer of a glove, mittem, sock, etc. You will cause the thermal layer to dampen and lose insulative properties. Over mitt coverings, like goretex over mitts, allows sweat to escape. but waterproof materials will not.

VBLs either go next to the skin or on top of a very thin inner glove (or sock if it is for the feet) then the outer mitten (or socks) go on top.

For a Camino, I would not take expensive overmitts during most of the year. . . they are meant for prolonged activity in snow and ice. For their compactness, weight, and cost as a 'just-in-case' piece of kit, latex or nitrile gloves will serve quite well.

For feet, heavy mil plastic bags as a 'just-in-case' VBL are less likely to interfere with the fit of an existing shoe or boot than the more elegant solution of vapor barrier socks which can be a bit pricey. They resemble a foot shaped, waterproof stuff sack.

Another option for feet involve carrying a pair of 'waterproof' socks like Sealskinz'. If that is a 'just-in-case' strategy, than it is important to fit shoes or boots while wear this type of sock (and any other sock you might decide to wear on top of the Sealskinz).

I look at it this way:
Baggies, thicker plastic bags, nitrile or latex gloves, etc are temporary, 'just-in-case' solutions as adjuncts to the clothes-closet in my backpack. Over Mitts and VBL socks would become part of my clothes closet when known weather conditions make their frequent use a necessity.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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I always appreciate your input, Dave. They are nuggets of advise to remember and rely on in many situations. Thanks for always taking the time to interject your expertise and personal experience in many categories, especially relating to gear.
I love this..."the clothes-closet in my backpack".🙂
 
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kleckam

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April '12, May '18
Indeed. Be prepared.
If in the Pyrenees you are walking the Valcarlos alternate CF route to Roncesvalles do be aware that
between Valcarlos and Roncesvalles there is no place to buy food nor is there potable water.
Side note on the Valcarlos route. I took this route in May '18. I saw one solo pilgrim and one small group from Barcelona the entire day. The solo pilgrim was from England, and when I passed him he was lying flat beside the path. He looked up at me, sweaty and exhausted, and said, "Shoot me!" I did run out of water, and had to fill my bottle from a small stream. It tasted so good! Indeed, be prepared!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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The solo pilgrim was from England, and when I passed him he was lying flat beside the path. He looked up at me, sweaty and exhausted, and said, "Shoot me!"
I felt like him a few times, plus a few more on my various caminos 😅
 

Kev&Kath

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Side note on the Valcarlos route. I took this route in May '18. I saw one solo pilgrim and one small group from Barcelona the entire day. The solo pilgrim was from England, and when I passed him he was lying flat beside the path. He looked up at me, sweaty and exhausted, and said, "Shoot me!" I did run out of water, and had to fill my bottle from a small stream. It tasted so good! Indeed, be prepared!
Walking Valcarlos so close to the 'official' closing of the Napoleon route I suspect we'll likely see a few more pilgrims. Clearly, still not an 'easy' route, and I sure hope the 'sweaty and exhausted' pilgrim made it to Roncesvalles without further need of shooting!
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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@Kev&Kath, I hope you have a wonderful Camino! I have a particular fondness for the Valcarloa route and hope you will find it so, too...it definitely has its own charm.🙂
 

alexwalker

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(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Side note on the Valcarlos route. I took this route in May '18. I saw one solo pilgrim and one small group from Barcelona the entire day. The solo pilgrim was from England, and when I passed him he was lying flat beside the path. He looked up at me, sweaty and exhausted, and said, "Shoot me!" I did run out of water, and had to fill my bottle from a small stream. It tasted so good! Indeed, be prepared!
Reminds me of the man who was so seasick that the only thing that kept him alive was the hope of dying.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Reminds of the man who was so seasick that the only thing that kept him alive was the hope of dying.
Love this! Thanks, Alex, for a good laugh!
Edit, I have been seasick on a boat in the Caribbean...I'll take a shooting any day over that!
 

Kev&Kath

Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
@Kev&Kath, I hope you have a wonderful Camino! I have a particular fondness for the Valcarloa route and hope you will find it so, too...it definitely has its own charm.🙂
Thanks Chrissy...your encouragement is much appreciated! We were toying with heading over the top, but I really wasn't comfortable planning that route so close to the end of the 'season'. Our first day will be on 'bankers hours'...being a very leisurely walk and overnight in Valcarlos. I've read too many post here where the wise have stressed that the first couple of days should be well measured and taken easy. I'm definitely old enough to listen to good advice!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Thanks Chrissy...your encouragement is much appreciated! We were toying with heading over the top, but I really wasn't comfortable planning that route so close to the end of the 'season'. Our first day will be on 'bankers hours'...being a very leisurely walk and overnight in Valcarlos. I've read too many post here where the wise have stressed that the first couple of days should be well measured and taken easy. I'm definitely old enough to listen to good advice!
You are definitly wise imo. That's exactly why I chose the Valcarlos route twice! You don't miss what you don't know...better be safe than possibly sorry.
 
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kleckam

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April '12, May '18
Walking Valcarlos so close to the 'official' closing of the Napoleon route I suspect we'll likely see a few more pilgrims. Clearly, still not an 'easy' route, and I sure hope the 'sweaty and exhausted' pilgrim made it to Roncesvalles without further need of shooting!
He did make it to Roncesvalles, and as often happens, our paths crossed a few more times along The Way.
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
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
Thanks Chrissy...your encouragement is much appreciated! We were toying with heading over the top, but I really wasn't comfortable planning that route so close to the end of the 'season'. Our first day will be on 'bankers hours'...being a very leisurely walk and overnight in Valcarlos. I've read too many post here where the wise have stressed that the first couple of days should be well measured and taken easy. I'm definitely old enough to listen to good advice!
A favorite of mine:

Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Side note on the Valcarlos route. I took this route in May '18. I saw one solo pilgrim and one small group from Barcelona the entire day. The solo pilgrim was from England, and when I passed him he was lying flat beside the path. He looked up at me, sweaty and exhausted, and said, "Shoot me!" I did run out of water, and had to fill my bottle from a small stream. It tasted so good! Indeed, be prepared!
Thanks for that, that made me laugh out loud! On my first Camino I walked the Valcarlos. There was also one pilgrim lying flat on the ground at some point, right on the dirt path, feet up on a backpack. He had a companion though and they both said they were fine, but it still didn't look good. There was also one pilgrim who fell down a hill at a part of the way where the path was narrow and there was a river steep down on the right hand side. It was quite dramatic. At least the pilgrim didn't roll into the stream. Others helped him to get up to the path again and then to the road, and called an ambulance. He was taken to Roncesvalles and I think I saw him enjoying a glass of wine there later in the evening and he still continued his Camino.
I also ran out of water and saw people filling up their bottles in a stream and the non potable water fountain. Someone offered me chlorine tablets for the water, and a group of italians insisted to give me a banana (they had carried about 2 kgs bananas from St Jean from the size of the plastic bag they took it from). Apparently I looked as exhausted as I felt, certainly needed that banana! Or maybe they needed to get rid of the weight. Who knows! 1kg of instant soup in my backpack wasn't exactly useful in that moment, so I was thankful for what was offered.

It was my first real hiking experience, I was a bit shocked, haha!

People call it the "lower" or "valley" alternative, but it certainly has its own charme!
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Others helped him to get up to the path again and then to the road, and called an ambulance. He was taken to Roncesvalles and I think I saw him enjoying a glass of wine there later in the evening
That was probably an expensive glass of wine when all was said and done.
 

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