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is the first day as daunting as it looks?

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min200

Member
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
 

Capt. Bob

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015, 2017 and hopefully Sep 2019
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Good Day. I can only offer my own perspective of the first day. There are many factors to consider. Have you trained for the journey? Is your footwear well broken in and comfortable? Overall health? Are you carrying too much gear? There are many factors to be considered. Many people will be walking at various speeds, so I really wasn't worried about the time aspect. I found walking at a steady pace (it's not a race) and taking breaks as needed made the trip enjoyable as opposed to daunting. The scenery was very enjoyable. Actually the downhill part of the trip into Roncevalles was tougher for me than the uphill. I felt it on my knees and was very glad that I had walking staffs for balance and to ease the load. Best advice is don't think of it as a hellish uphill day. Think of it as the start of an amazing journey. Mental preparation is equally important as physical. Buen Camino
 

Paul McAmino

Blue Ridge
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPP-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon, 2018 Leon-Santiago
Hi,
It can be done. Go slowly. Drink water. It’s not a race. Keep going until you get there. Decide if you want to take the road down to Roncesvalles or the potentially slippery forest way.
You also might want to review the excellent video shot by Dave Bugg, a forum member, as he climbed the same route. It will give you an idea of the difficulty, and the beauty, of this stage.

You can find at least a link to it on this forum.

All the best,
Paul
 

min200

Member
Hi,
It can be done. Go slowly. Drink water. It’s not a race. Keep going until you get there. Decide if you want to take the road down to Roncesvalles or the potentially slippery forest way.
You also might want to review the excellent video shot by Dave Bugg, a forum member, as he climbed the same route. It will give you an idea of the difficulty, and the beauty, of this stage.

You can find at least a link to it on this forum.

All the best,
Paul
Thanks for the info :) WHere can I find the video please?
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
Decide if you want to take the road down to Roncesvalles or the potentially slippery forest way.
All the best,
Paul
@Paul McAmino
Hi Paul
I think I know what you are sying but could you please clarify:
When you say "the road" - are you talking about the descent that will drop you into Valcarlos and is roughly 1.5km longer sort of 'to the right' vs. "the slippery forest way" which is the straight down much more steeper one but gets you stright into Roncesvalles?
 

Rick M

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
April ('16,'18, '19)
The first day is the toughest walk on the Frances, particularly if you choose the Napolean route. For those who are concerned about their fitness, preparation, or endurance, consider the Valcarlos route, which is a little easier (although still a long tough climb!). You can also break the day into two pieces by stopping part way at Orisson on the Napolean, or the town of Valcarlos. That said, people do it every day. People like you. Average people. This is not some sort of extreme adventure. Its a long climb over a smallish mountain on an improved and well marked trail. The first time I did it, I was with a 70 year old from Denmark who had too much stuff in his pack. He was plenty tired, but he made it.

The key for a successful camino is preparation. Train as much as you can by walking with your pack in the shoes you will wear. Take it easy at first, and gradually increase your distances over a period of a few months. Walk hills if you have them where you live, or stairs if you're a flatlander. The Camino is not flat, and you need to lose your fear of hills, because its just that: a fear.

If all else fails while you are on the mountain, there are a number of ways to "bail-out" part way there. Check out the mountain shuttle on www.expressbourricot.com , but you won't need to. Do some training, and take your time. People do it every day.

Buen Camino
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Although I had walked throughout the summer hiking 20 k up the 1060 meter Ibaneta pass via the Valcarlos route the first time in autumn 2004 at 65 to the monastery at Roncesvalles was certainly the most physically exhausting day of my adult life then to date. I was pooped! Beneath a deep blue sky and brilliant sun I gasped and ached while my pack felt like bricks.

After about 5 hours I finally staggered over the pass into a picnic area filled with a munching mob; they had arrived by bus and cars! Never will I forget the look that one très correct French woman drinking champagne from a crystal flute, no plastic for her, gave me as I trudged past exhausted!
ET would have been better received....Nevertheless eventually I made it to Santiago walking slowly all the way.

Ever since on the following 9 caminios I always walked very easy. Daily distances cited in the guidebooks are not sacred; remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare.

Thus I have eventually sensed that special moment when everything 'clicked' while realizing that it was, indeed, MY way and that all was and would be good. Perhaps such secular transcendence felt while walking might be akin to what runners call 'the zone'. Your body can handle the task while your spirit glows with the effort. Neither easy, nor impossible; all simply is and you resolve to continue!

Good luck and Buen camino!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
@Paul McAmino
Hi Paul
I think I know what you are sying but could you please clarify:
When you say "the road" - are you talking about the descent that will drop you into Valcarlos and is roughly 1.5km longer sort of 'to the right' vs. "the slippery forest way" which is the straight down much more steeper one but gets you stright into Roncesvalles?
At the highest point of Napoleon route (or a bit later) you have two options of descending to Roncesvalles. If you take left path that's the one through the forest and may be very slippery in wet weather because of tree leaves. If you take right hand option is much less steeper and you first descend to Puerto de Ibaneta pass where you have again two options. Either take left one through the forest or right one on the main N-135 road (if you have any medical issues by that point the latter will be easier).
Simple map here: https://www.gronze.com/etapa/saint-jean-pied-port/roncesvalles

Valcarlos is on the Valcarlos Route which paralels N-135 through the valley more or less all the time and you would end up at Ibaneta Pass too. From there two options as described in above paragraph.
 

John Hawke

Leaving O'Cebreiro
Camino(s) past & future
May 2016, completed 1/6/2016
(April 2018)
I've done it twice first at age 72 and then at 74. I believe that having a good restful couple of days before starting is valuable. The first time I walked almost 8 hours to Roncesvalles by the Napoleon route taking the slippery forest route and finding out why it's "Slippery" as I tumbled head over heals into a deep ditch, On my Birthday no less. while unwinding from my twisted finish I spied just how close I had come to bashing my head on a large jagged rock. I was exhausted when I arrived. My second Camino by design was to be easier with a stop at Orrison and on the leg down traveling the road route rather than the forrest. Because I was jet lagged it was not. The night before my first Camino in SJPdeP I asked an older Italian gentleman, starting his eighth camino, his advice to which he replied "Go Slow!" To this day it remains the best advice I ever received on The Camino.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Thanks for the info :) WHere can I find the video please?
You will find it below. My video was included as part of a series of other videos, filmed by by John Sikora, showing the entire Camino Frances as it looks while walking. Each video segment is 'hyperlapsed' so it lasts only 20 to 30 minutes to watch, instead of 5 to 8 hours.

 

Stroller

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte (2015), Frances (2016)
I am of the opinion that the Valcarlos route is as tough as the Napoleon. The Napoleon climb is at the start of the day and eases steadily as the day passes. The Valcarlos starts easily but gets steadily steeper as the day progresses. So on the Valcarlos route you have the steepest climb when you are tired. See the graphic above.
Having said that both are hard and SJPP to Zubiri is the hardest part of the route partly because of climbs partly because it is at the start of the walk.
 
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davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
I have walked from SJPdP to Roncesvalle twice now. It is done by a large number of pilgrims each day, and the majority are not iron-legged, super fit backpackers. Below is a writing I have posted before. Hopefully it will provide a bit of help and encouragement.

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With some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until that break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a self-determined tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your bodies needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such help.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow down a bit, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. Yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

So, start slower than you feel is normal for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, be aware to observe and follow the above strategy AFTER a break, too. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. 100 calorie increments of food every 25 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc.

The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need in the next 25 to 30 minutes. In addition to hydrating during the break, you also need to be sipping and drinking water as you are walking.You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

The nagging of "CAN I DO THIS?" is Doubt's piercing and persistent blathering which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino, and those physical challenges that are part of it, you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time I go on a multi-day backpacking trek. I went through that for my Camino two years ago, and before last year's Camino. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'can I do this' with the answer that "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. 😁
 

irishrock

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1st three stages in 2016 and finished in 2017)
It was far less of a difficult walk than I expected. The map and the steepness of the cliff is not accurate. Frankly, I found the downhill part more difficult than the uphill (the beautiful views of the Pyrenees helped out on the uphill portion...the views were amazing). Obviously, stop in Orrison for a beer/sandwich break. Keep hydrated.

I found Estella to Viana was the hardest day for me...heat, then the part from Torres del Rio to Viana had some leg breaking sections (albeit, it is two stages that I had to do in one day) Astorga to El Acebo is a tough day as well.

One piece of advice that you'll thank me for later...hiking poles. Get them.

I guarantee you'll have an enjoyable first day if the weather cooperates with you.. Buen Camino!
 
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Dave2525

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014
I found it massively difficult. My pack was too heavy and my fitness was not quite as good as I thought even though I had trained. Thank goodness I had booked ahead at Orisson.

Once I got my Camino legs and lightened my load I did much better. I also did find uphill easier than downhill even at the end.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
I don't know why people chose the cf for their first camino. ..the first day is HARD...i had the misfortune to join the cf after walking from lepuy and even after having walked for weeks i found the pyrenees hard..and the cf is a conga line...for my first i took the advice of the confraternity of st james to avoid the cf because of the crowds and took the vdlp...and that was 15 years ago
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I did not find the walk up to Orisson particularly difficult, although it was my first day walking and I was 67 at the time. I started fairly late, because I arrived in SJpdP fairly late (9 am or so) and had to visit the pilgrim office and a couple of shops. I am an experienced mountain walker and I walked very slowly, since I had not done anything to get in shape for the walk. I just kept on moving slowly, only stopping briefly when there was something that I wanted to look at. I don't think I ate or drank anything on the way up to Orisson. A senior couple ahead of me who were stopped for a lengthy break remarked that they had been watching me for some distance, and I just kept on walking. I didn't see any point in getting puffed or straining my legs. One of the best treats of my life was a large, freshly squeezed orange juice, purchased as soon as I arrived at Orisson. Then all that I had to do was shower, rinse out dirty laundry, and wait until the communal dinner and conversation. For me, it was a particularly easy first day, although I had only arrived in Spain the morning before. I did not sleep well that first night: my introduction to dormitory living, too hot with all the windows shut.
I found the walk on to Roncesvalles equally low stress, with the exception of the downhill just before arrival. It was steep, with bare patches of dirt that would have been very slippery, if wet. I had missed the beginning of the longer, and easier, road route.
If you have questions about the walk to Roncesvalles, or if you want to take it easy at first, book the first night at Orisson. I do not say that this is compulsory, just easier, and less stressful for a first day's walk, maybe after a long journey from your home.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
As a moderately fit 66 year old, I walked from SJPP to Roncesvalles without extreme difficulty . The biggest problem encountered by many people is the weight of their packs. Consider sending some of your stuff by transport to Roncesvalles for that first day (but wear your good backpack with everything you might possibly need). Another tip is to not walk side-by-side with other people so that you are not tempted to be talking and laughing all the time. You can still be friendly, but talking takes a lot of breath. Walk very slowly but steadily.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
I haven’t read the previous replies so forgive me if I repeat things.
The difficult bit is from St Jean to Orisson. It is very steep but..... it is only barely 8km.
My problem walking it the first time was : omg can I go on like this for 20 more km? (The answer in my head was : Nooooo way....).
It is all in the mind.
No, it isn’t like this for the rest of the journey, it gets much easier, it is no way as steep again.
The trouble is, on a forum, we don’t know you, we don’t know how fit (or unfit) you are so how can we judge?
My view? It is very feasible if you walk at your pace, stopping when you need to. No hassle. Just don’t do it in bad weather is all I can advise. Stop at the pilgrim’s office in St Jean and they’ll have the latest information.
Ultreia.
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
I agree with previous replies. Did it twice. And yes, it was hard (coming from a flat country). But doable. It helps me to not 'attack' the mountain, but rather look at it as a friend who wants to be climbed by me. So I tend to take it easy, taking smaller steps at a lower pace when the climb asks for it. Taking a break regularly. Starting early (about 30 minutes before sunrise), so I have all day, realising that Roncesvalles isn't going anywhere.

If you're not sure you'll be able to make it, you could take the lower route (along the asphalt road to Roncesvalles). Perhaps not as beautiful as the high route, but it leads to Roncesvalles too.

And please don't concern yourself with the idea that taking the low route means that you're not a real pilgrim. Having walked a number of Caminos so far, I still don't know what a 'real' pilgrim is. Or in fact I do: there's no such thing as a 'real' pilgrim.

Enjoy your Camino the way you want.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
@Paul McAmino
Hi Paul
I think I know what you are sying but could you please clarify:
When you say "the road" - are you talking about the descent that will drop you into Valcarlos and is roughly 1.5km longer sort of 'to the right' vs. "the slippery forest way" which is the straight down much more steeper one but gets you stright into Roncesvalles?
If you are taking the Napoleon route the "road" does not take you to Valcarlos, but to Ibaneta.

If you are concerned about the first stage split it in two by staying at Orisson after that first very tough 8 km (you must have a reservation). Then make a reservation for the next night at the Roncesvalles albergue so that you don't feel like you are in a race to get a bed.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
I think a lot depends on whether you are used to hills. In Viana we met a big tough guy from Texas, a farrier who worked hard with large horses all his life. On retiring, he decided to walk the Camino. It turns out he walked to Roncesvalles the same day as we did, arriving several hours later. He was a strong, fit looking guy - he told me that hill was one of the most humbling things he'd done. He had trained on the flat and wasn't prepared for the steepness.
If you were judging us by physical appearance, you would definitely have put your money on him being faster than me, a 5'2" 57 year old woman.
However I live at the top of a very steep hill, so every day my walk includes a minimum of one hill, usually several. Plus I normally walk with a backpack - not as much as my Camino pack for sure, but laptops are heavy and uncomfortable, so carrying a pack uphill on the Camino wasn't a giant shock either. I met a Danish woman who marvelled at my photos of home, as she was used to flat country as well, her saying was that its "all uphill to Santiago".
I won't say walking to Roncesvalles was easy, but very doable. Just take your time. Train on hills if you can, it makes a difference. And if you arrive too early you just have to stand and wait.
 
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DebR

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances:
2013; 2014; 2015; 2017; 2018; and counting down to Christmas 2019
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Short answer: It depends.
Last year I walked from SJPP to Orisson and by the fifth of those eight km, I contemplated giving up. Best part of four hours.
Time before that, I walked all the way from SJPP to Burguete (40 minutes beyond Roncesvalles) in one day, taking the Valcarlos route, and loved every minute..,except the four km into Roncesvalles, where at one point I stood alone in the forest and contemplated crying. Seven hours, but only two that I didn’t love.
Time before that, I fairly skipped up the mountain to Orisson, keeping pace with a guy who literally climbed stairs for a living. Cerveza on the Orisson deck at 10:20am.
Time before that I took so many photos of the Pyrenees that I barely noticed the incline. Orisson by 11:30, with lots of meandering.
Time before that, I chickened out and started in Pamplona.
Really, I think it depends on your state of mind and of fitness. Valcarlos isn’t easier; Orisson is a wonderful stop, and, personally, I never take the breakfast at Roncesvalles.
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
If I could do it all over again, I would walk to Orrison on the first day, and then to Roncesvalles on the second day. As it was, I walked all the way, on the Napoleon route from SJPdP to Roncesvalles on the first day. It was super tough. I think it may be slightly easier to go the Valcarlos route instead of Napoleon, but those vistas via Napoleon are stunning and in my opinion, should not be missed. If you do go all the way on day one via Napoleon, take the road instead of the forest for the last 4kms into Roncesvalles, as the forest route is super tough and takes a lot longer to get down the hill.

Whatever you decide, Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Primitivo May 2019
Camino Norte Sept 2019
I thought I was well-prepared for the first day but due to a combination of jet lag and blood sugar issues, I was completely exhausted by the time I reached Orisson. It ended up being one of the highlights of the entire CF because of the people we met there and the beautiful scenery the next day. I never had another day as difficult as that first one one the whole CF! I recommend staying in Orisson both as a way to test out your capacity and to stretch out the beautiful time in the Pyrenees.
 

JudyJane

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 May or August
My suggestion to enjoy the first day's walk
1 transport your 'heavy' backpack to Roncesvalles & use a light day pack, 2 just carry water & snacks, 3 enjoy the scenery & people walking with you. Your back, joints & feet will not be so sore at the end of the day, because the second day is similar to day one...in my mind & body! Buen Camino!
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
IF you are planning or forced to go the Valcarlos route it is a nice day´s walk, and then a hellish incline for the last part that takes your breath away, from 400 mtrs to a 1000 mters, until you reach the chapel...
It is here your planning of water supplies( shops before Valcarlos) is prudent, and goodies to be had to keep up spirits...
-----
after the fact, please take heed to take it slow going down after Roncevalles the next day(s). It is hard on the knees and your quadroceps femoris, walking poles are a good thing here, even if you´ll never use them again !
 
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Bill Krueger

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Portugues (June-2018)
another option is to send your pack to Roncesvalles and just carry a day pack that first day...the Pilgrim's office can show you how....
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Another suggestion I would like to make is that if you can arrive at SJPDP early enough start walking to Orisson (only 1 alburgue and reservation is a must). This will make the walk to Roncesvalles shorter by about 8 Kilometers and make it more manageable.
 

Rover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis, Fall 2016
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)

The first day is typically challenging; it's a long 5 mile slog to Orisson. I highly recommend you stay here for the first night out; great way to set the pace and not over extend yourself out of the gate. If you're in a hurry (what's the rush?) then bypass Orisson and go Roncesvalles
 

c0484

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
It depends on how much preparation you do. I begin training a year in advance of every Camino I walk.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Completed one 550 Miile and six partial caminos
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
A lot will depend on the weather.
When I walked this in the mist and coolish weather, I never noticed the uphill section but of course. I didn’t see the views.
The next time it was 38degrees and everyone realised that even with water it was much tougher. I know I was 72 yrs old but the younger folk were equally as exhausted. Be guided by what your body tells and take it steady.
Buen Camino
 

benny aumala

Member
Camino(s) past & future
may-june 2016
may-june (2019)
I made Napoleon last April. Mule service took my ruck sac to Roncesvalles and I went with light daypack to Orisson and next day to Roncesvalles. Orisson is normally full, but their Koyola might be available.
It is just 800 meters from Orisson.
This way the first day is very steep but only 7 km. The second is not quite as steep, but rise is the same.
Then going down: take the road to the right. We did not and it was a mistake!
My age is 78.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
I found it really tough getting up to Orisson. Took me as long as a regular days walking and I was shattered when I got there. I had chosen to stop there for the night. Next day, it was not as tough until the trail left the road up to the border but after that it was easier going although the second time I did it,horrendous weather conditions made it more difficult. The trail down by road to Roncesvalles was steep and quite frankly boring as I had reached the point of just wanting to get there and that downhill was just a nuisance I wanted to get out of the way. In summary, the walk to Orisson is really tough, the walk after Orisson is not so tough
 

min200

Member
Thank you everyone for taking the time to put down such detailed replies! I am in no rush to get anywhere but am still looking at the times I can travel to SJPDP so will be able to make more of an informed choice once that's sorted :)
Thank you all so much again!
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
It is really not at all hard if you stop in Orisson, as we did the second time we did the Camino Frances. The walk to Orisson is easily done in the morning and then you can enjoy the rest of the day with no internet (it is quite blissful and the next day you can enjoy the most beautiful sunrise of the walk while you have your morning cuppa :)
 

Davidmm

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
I did not find the walk up to Orisson particularly difficult, although it was my first day walking and I was 67 at the time. I started fairly late, because I arrived in SJpdP fairly late (9 am or so) and had to visit the pilgrim office and a couple of shops. I am an experienced mountain walker and I walked very slowly, since I had not done anything to get in shape for the walk. I just kept on moving slowly, only stopping briefly when there was something that I wanted to look at. I don't think I ate or drank anything on the way up to Orisson. A senior couple ahead of me who were stopped for a lengthy break remarked that they had been watching me for some distance, and I just kept on walking. I didn't see any point in getting puffed or straining my legs. One of the best treats of my life was a large, freshly squeezed orange juice, purchased as soon as I arrived at Orisson. Then all that I had to do was shower, rinse out dirty laundry, and wait until the communal dinner and conversation. For me, it was a particularly easy first day, although I had only arrived in Spain the morning before. I did not sleep well that first night: my introduction to dormitory living, too hot with all the windows shut.
I found the walk on to Roncesvalles equally low stress, with the exception of the downhill just before arrival. It was steep, with bare patches of dirt that would have been very slippery, if wet. I had missed the beginning of the longer, and easier, road route.
If you have questions about the walk to Roncesvalles, or if you want to take it easy at first, book the first night at Orisson. I do not say that this is compulsory, just easier, and less stressful for a first day's walk, maybe after a long journey from your home.
Excellent advice, spend the night at Orisson,is a great start to your Camino. In 2017 we only stopped there for coffee. Last year we spent the night there. At the top of the mountain took the left road( jeep track) down into Roncesvalles. Got there before they opened, at 14h00 I think. I am 68
 

Annalisa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Arrive in Biarritz on June 25, 2017
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
I loved the first day. Make sure to stop in Orisson for a second breakfast and take a sandwich along with you. It is a wonderful amazing walk to Roncesvalles. Enjoy every step of the way.
 

Phil Smith

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2016)StJ to Viana (2017): Viana to Castrojeriz (2018) Castrojeriz to Leon
(2019) León to Sarria
I posted this a while back:
... we started our Camino in 2016 and have been doing stages [varying from 7 to 10 days walking each time]. I was 50 when we went from St Jean. We had booked Orisson. We set off at around 7.30 a.m. and got to Orisson by 10.30 a.m. I am generously proportioned [100kg] and not hugely fit. I had done practice walks and had done some walking up hills [Mam Tor in Derbyshire, UK]. When I got to Orisson I felt it would have been a waste of a day to stop at that point and carried on. That first haul is difficult, but it does get easier. The way down is difficult, but if you look after your knees [I used poles] it is manageable. getting this done in one day has set me up for the Camino ... I know I can deal with pretty much anything after day one!
However, my real advice is do what you feel is do-able for you.


In terms of the time we arrived in Roncesvalles, I think it was about 4.30 pm. I was very tired and footsore, but managed to get up and move on the next day .... just like practically everyone else!
Since this time I've dropped to 88kg and I have to say this is the biggest factor in how daunting an ascent/ descent can be.
Hope that helps!
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
My first day took 10.5 hrs; mud, rocks, rain and fog.
 

Polo

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
On the Camino Santiago June 2019 4 days to go to finish in finisterre. Walked 800 miles.
Book in here to break up the journey....you must book for your first day.
If you are relatively fit it is not that bad.
 

Garry Collins

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances to Santiago de Compostella
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Hello Garry from Aussie here , gee you now have lots of input ! I walked STJohn via Valcarlos and then 2017 at age 73 Napoleon way all day into a headwind May 16. I am very fit ,have run marathons but this was a tough 7 hour walk and especially the last 1.5 k down to Roncesvalles.I did enjoy the half hour coffee stop at Oriston with stunning . scenery.By the way October was just brilliant weather.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2019, My son walked the Camino in 2014
I have walked from SJPdP to Roncesvalle twice now. It is done by a large number of pilgrims each day, and the majority are not iron-legged, super fit backpackers. Below is a writing I have posted before. Hopefully it will provide a bit of help and encouragement.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With some level of cardio fitness, making it up a long uphill grade is a matter of pace, maintaining calorie intake, hydration, and utilizing meaningful breaks.

1. As you head uphill, adjust your pace to a comfortable level which you are able to maintain without needing to frequently stop and start. Frequent stops and starts adds to exhaustion. It doesn't matter if your pace is 4 miles per hour or 0.5 miles per hour. What matters is continuously walking between planned breaks.

Set a planned interval for a short and deliberate break -- say every 20 minutes, for five minutes. Set your pace so that you can walk until that break time.

Setting your pace is a dynamic process, you need to adjust it as circumstances dictate. Please set your pace based on what you need, not on how you feel.

How do you maintain a pace at a set speed? My trick is to periodically check myself by silently hum a tune... the same tune.... which is easy to sync to each step I take. Don't laugh, but I use 'Hark The Herald Angles Sing'. It is NOT the speed of the tune that determines my pace, but my pace will determine the speed of the tune. Once that pace is determined, then you can use the speed of the tune to check yourself.

Some folks may view this as too formulaic or too rigid, but that is not the case. It is simply a self-determined tool to assist in understanding your body's rhythm while walking. The more familiar you become with your bodies needs while hiking -- which happens as your experience grows -- the less need there is for such help.

As the grade uphill gets steeper and I need to slow down a bit, I don't necessarily slow how fast I take a step, I adjust the length of each step. In other words, in keeping time with my song, I might go from, say, 10 inches between one footstep to the next, to only 5 inches between steps. That will automatically slow how fast I am moving, and still keep me in step with my song.

Inexperienced folks will start out fast and try to maintain that pace because they are fresh, full of energy, and not at all tired. Yet. They want to keep up with those in better shape. They are in a race for beds. They are worried about being caught in the rain. Whatever.

They will start to crump within a fairly short distance up the hill; and the crumping will become cumulative with each step, even if they slow down later, because they have burned through their energy producing stores with that initial fast pace. They not only will crump, but they are now going to stay in a state of depleted energy which only a very prolonged break can solve.

So, start slower than you feel is normal for you. Let people pass you by, and see how that pace feels as you continue uphill. If you start feeling too out of breath, slow down. If your leg muscles start feeling too fatigued, slow down.

Also, be aware to observe and follow the above strategy AFTER a break, too. You will feel refreshed and you will be tempted to start out faster than you should. RESIST. :)

2. At every short break time, eat something. Your stomach and GI tract can only process food at a specific rate of time, so you want to match your intake of food to that optimum time frame. 100 calorie increments of food every 25 to 30 minutes is a good time frame. A quarter of a Snicker bar and a bite of cheese, or a handful of trail mix, or a bit of bocadillo,or some Peanut M&Ms, or some energy gel with some nuts, etc.

The idea is to replenish your energy producing stores that your muscles will need in the next 25 to 30 minutes. In addition to hydrating during the break, you also need to be sipping and drinking water as you are walking.You need to stay hydrated without overdoing water consumption.

3. If it starts to become very difficult to walk 20 minutes without stopping in between, then lengthen your break from 5 minutes to 8 minutes, or 10 minutes. Give your calorie intake a longer period to do its job, and for you to re-oxygenate and fuel your muscle cells. If you find that it fairly easy to walk 20 minutes before stopping, then add 5 more minutes to your walk time between breaks. Still fairly easy? Then keep adding 5 minutes to the interval before stopping. However, I would advise not going longer than 1 hour without taking a break. I usually break every 55 minutes or so.

4. It is understandable if you have some jitters about a physically demanding and prolonged walk up into the mountains or hills. Or even on less aggressive elevations.

The nagging of "CAN I DO THIS?" is Doubt's piercing and persistent blathering which forces one's mind and gut to focus on perceived inadequacies. Doubt doesn't wait for evidence of one's ability to perform, or to look at what actually will occur during your hike. Nope, all Doubt is concerned with, is making you feel inadequate and insecure.

So as you prepare for your Camino, and those physical challenges that are part of it, you can either let Doubt have its fun with you, or you can push Doubt to the background and tell it to, "Shut up; you just wait and see what I can do!!!".

I go through at least a portion of the above every time I go on a multi-day backpacking trek. I went through that for my Camino two years ago, and before last year's Camino. I am hearing those voices again this year as I am planning on a Camino this Fall.

I just simply respond to the question of 'can I do this' with the answer that "I am as prepared as I can be, I will be flexible to things happening around me, and regardless of what happens life will continue on".

After all, I am not going into combat, or heading into a burning building; I am just going for a walk. 😁
Dave, I can't tell you have much I appreciate your advice! This past weekend, in preparation of the beginning of my walk in July I once again traipsed through the woods of northern Manitoba with my bear-bells (yes the bear are awake and abundant). This past weekend I decided to walk 10k to an old mine (hiding in the forest for 20 minutes when I saw a wandering large dog up ahead, feeling pretty sure that my jingling bear bells wouldn't have the same effect on a roaming large dog as a traveling black bear). This time I had decided to have my sandwich and apple after my 10km pit stop which was a little longer than anticipated because of my hiding from the big dog episode. And I didn't have my regular nuts and dried fruit to snack on.... AND for some reason I wasn't very thirsty so I only draft water periodically. Anyways by the time I returned to my home and had some more food I was utterly exhausted after only 18km, crawled into bed and slept for 2 hrs. I thought, gosh I better toughen up fast! But what I realized by the next day is that my body is fine, not sore. I love my shoes and my backpack and all my gear. I just think after reading your advice that I need to take a break every 45 - 50 minutes and make sure that I snack on food pretty regularly. Happy that I won't have to worry about bears on the Camino, hoping I won't see mean or scary dogs. Thanks Dave!
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Dave, I can't tell you have much I appreciate your advice! This past weekend, in preparation of the beginning of my walk in July I once again traipsed through the woods of northern Manitoba with my bear-bells (yes the bear are awake and abundant). This past weekend I decided to walk 10k to an old mine (hiding in the forest for 20 minutes when I saw a wandering large dog up ahead, feeling pretty sure that my jingling bear bells wouldn't have the same effect on a roaming large dog as a traveling black bear). This time I had decided to have my sandwich and apple after my 10km pit stop which was a little longer than anticipated because of my hiding from the big dog episode. And I didn't have my regular nuts and dried fruit to snack on.... AND for some reason I wasn't very thirsty so I only draft water periodically. Anyways by the time I returned to my home and had some more food I was utterly exhausted after only 18km, crawled into bed and slept for 2 hrs. I thought, gosh I better toughen up fast! But what I realized by the next day is that my body is fine, not sore. I love my shoes and my backpack and all my gear. I just think after reading your advice that I need to take a break every 45 - 50 minutes and make sure that I snack on food pretty regularly. Happy that I won't have to worry about bears on the Camino, hoping I won't see mean or scary dogs. Thanks Dave!
You're welcome. I'm glad if I have been of help. :)
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
Dave, I can't tell you have much I appreciate your advice! This past weekend, in preparation of the beginning of my walk in July I once again traipsed through the woods of northern Manitoba with my bear-bells (yes the bear are awake and abundant). This past weekend I decided to walk 10k to an old mine (hiding in the forest for 20 minutes when I saw a wandering large dog up ahead, feeling pretty sure that my jingling bear bells wouldn't have the same effect on a roaming large dog as a traveling black bear). This time I had decided to have my sandwich and apple after my 10km pit stop which was a little longer than anticipated because of my hiding from the big dog episode. And I didn't have my regular nuts and dried fruit to snack on.... AND for some reason I wasn't very thirsty so I only draft water periodically. Anyways by the time I returned to my home and had some more food I was utterly exhausted after only 18km, crawled into bed and slept for 2 hrs. I thought, gosh I better toughen up fast! But what I realized by the next day is that my body is fine, not sore. I love my shoes and my backpack and all my gear. I just think after reading your advice that I need to take a break every 45 - 50 minutes and make sure that I snack on food pretty regularly. Happy that I won't have to worry about bears on the Camino, hoping I won't see mean or scary dogs. Thanks Dave!
That is the amazing thing about our bodies - how much they repair themselves overnight
 

John H.

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - 2017
CP Central - 2017
CP Coastal - 2018
CF - [hopefully again someday]
Many of the comments here correctly tell you that the hardest part is the first 8 kms from St Jean to Orisson because it is the steepest part. But, much of this is a paved country road. Take your time and enjoy it. I stopped in Orisson around 10 am for some food and water and also bought a sandwich to eat on the trail a few hours later near the top. Lovely day - but challenging. On a sunny day, the views along the way are beautiful.
 
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jenbon

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Santiago - July 15th 2019 start date
Hi- I will be starting July 16th from St. Jean as well. When I booked my flight in January I had lost 30lbs (still quite overweight) and was working out all the time. Due to some personal circumstances, I fell into quite a funk from April-Now and have put on 20lbs making it feel like carrying an extra pack as well as stopping my training. I only have 3 weeks and trying to change my mindset from "how will I ever" to "I'm just going to walk till I can't and take some transport from whatever point that may be"- That being said, I have read about splitting the day in two with a stop in Orisson. I, unfortunately, can't do that as I need to be in Roncevalles by days end. My new thought is, would it be possible to leave St. Jean and take transport to Orrison and start from that point?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016
Camino Primitivo May 2019
Camino Norte Sept 2019
I think that is a great idea! You can get taxis to and from most albergues or even get a taxi to take you part of the way. Remember to book ahead at Orisson. And take hiking poles too! They will help stabilize you and ease your joints on the downhill into Roncesvalles. Buen camino no matter where you start!
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
Hi- I will be starting July 16th from St. Jean as well. When I booked my flight in January I had lost 30lbs (still quite overweight) and was working out all the time. Due to some personal circumstances, I fell into quite a funk from April-Now and have put on 20lbs making it feel like carrying an extra pack as well as stopping my training. I only have 3 weeks and trying to change my mindset from "how will I ever" to "I'm just going to walk till I can't and take some transport from whatever point that may be"- That being said, I have read about splitting the day in two with a stop in Orisson. I, unfortunately, can't do that as I need to be in Roncevalles by days end. My new thought is, would it be possible to leave St. Jean and take transport to Orrison and start from that point?
Hi Jenbon,

You could take a taxi or minibus from St. Jean to Orisson. The refuge in Orisson however is only open to pilgrims arriving by foot. For pilgrims arriving by car/minibus they offer a gite (without dinner or breakfast: it has a kitchen). Check out their website:

https://refuge-orisson.com/en/accommodation/refuge-orisson/

If you're afraid that the mountain might be too much for you right now, you can take the bus from St. Jean to Roncesvalles and start from there (you won't be the only one starting at Roncesvalles). Don't worry: there will be more hills and mountains to climb along the way. Remember: walking the Camino is not meant to be a punishment (not anymore):


Enjoy YOUR camino!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
Hi- I will be starting July 16th from St. Jean as well. When I booked my flight in January I had lost 30lbs (still quite overweight) and was working out all the time. Due to some personal circumstances, I fell into quite a funk from April-Now and have put on 20lbs making it feel like carrying an extra pack as well as stopping my training. I only have 3 weeks and trying to change my mindset from "how will I ever" to "I'm just going to walk till I can't and take some transport from whatever point that may be"- That being said, I have read about splitting the day in two with a stop in Orisson. I, unfortunately, can't do that as I need to be in Roncevalles by days end. My new thought is, would it be possible to leave St. Jean and take transport to Orrison and start from that point?
Yes, Express Bourricot offers a service that they call the Mountain Shuttle.

 

gersevink

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino del Norte, Fisterra, Muxia
2015 Via de la Plata Sevilla Santiago
2016 Camino Portugues
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Vergis je niet in de tweede dag!
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
My first day took 10.5 hrs; mud, rocks, rain and fog.
You forgot to mention the wind! 😉
We had less than 100m visibility on the second day.
But it was lovely on the walk up to Orisson on day one.


@davebugg
The thing that strikes me most about your video is the sheer number of cars/vehicles on the Napoleon route.
I couldn’t believe the number of vehicles that passed you, not only on the way to Orisson, but also the camper vans and cars actually parked up on the mountain! 😳
Admittedly it was 10 years ago, but we had only one local car pass us ... as we left the outskirts of SJPdP. And the next day, after we left Orisson, we didn’t see any vehicles for the entire walk to Roncevalles. Once the tarmac ended, after about 5 miles, there was only a rough track anyway, probably only accessible by farm vehicles.

Despite not having seen the wonderful mountain vistas on day two, I think I’ll keep my memories of those two days intact. I’ll not be walking the Napoleon again.

But Orisson is not to be missed ... not least, for the spirit of that wonderful evening meal and the feeling of community it engenders.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I often suggest starting one or more days hiking distance before SJPP -- Biarritz, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Lourdes, Oloron, Orthez, or even just Sauveterre or Saint-Palais would all be good starting points. I'd suggest though that a good three days' hike at least would be good prep before SJPP.

Or alternatively, just do as many Spaniards do and start at Roncesvalles.

Truth is though, personally, I haven't walked in the direction SJPP>Roncesvalles since 2005, so my impressions of how hard it can be are a bit out of date -- it's a far easier hike doing Roncesvalles>SJPP, which I'll be doing again this time, so that has coloured my perceptions somewhat.
 

david1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Paris to Santiago de Compostela
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Short answer is yes. By the time I had reached St Jean I'd been on my pilgrimage for several months (I'd walked from Wales) In my whole 5 1/2 month Camino the walk to Roncesvalles from St Jean was easily my most challenging.
Taken slowly, with micro stops and water it's entirely doable. 😀
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
There are 4 possible options, @min200, from hardest to not quite as hard:
1. SJPP to Roncesvalles via the Napoleon Route
2. SJPP to Roncesvalles via the Valcarlos Route
3. SJPP to Orisson to Roncesvalles (2 days, Napoleon Route)
4. SJPP to Valcarlos to Roncesvalles (2 days, Valcarlos Route)

So if you are unsure of your capacity, you have choice.
The are all the 'real camino;' never mind those who will tell you otherwise. In fact, the two options up the Valcarlos route are actually following the older more 'authentic' pilgrimage route. And it is just as gorgeous.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
VNwalking, there are actually a few other variants, including the one I rushed up into by pure accident on my 1994, and where I discovered a small village bar on the way up (likely no longer exists sadly, though I'll always remember it for itself, plus for the melting away of the Basque farmers' kneejerk hostility once they understood me not to be French LOL), some amazing cool spring water on top of that valley, and some bemused herds of bell-ringing cows to accompany me 'til I got back up onto the Napoleon route proper.

And crikey but the weather was gorgeous on that particular day !!

The refugio at Orisson didn't exist back then, so it was still Roncesvalles or bust !!!
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
The good news: the first day is absolutely gorgeous.

I’d echo what many others have said:

1. Roncesvalles is do-able in a day, for sure. But I’d stay in Orisson next time. A very short leg, but I’d saunter out of St. Jean rather than burst out from the blocks.

2. I’d take the road option. The steep descent into Roncesvalles and rocky path were pretty tough. It’s possible that breaking it into two legs would make it a bit less damaging.

I was a bit worried about making it to Santiago with some time to spare before my booked return flight, and without any experience did not know how much margin I needed to allow for unexpected stuff, so I wanted to get a good distance. I was also excited and just wanted to “get going”.

In hindsight, would have been much better for me to stop at Orisson. Walking without knee pain and with fewer blisters makes for a more enjoyable Camino. :)
 

C & W

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP to Santiago (2015)
Lourdes to Jaca (2016)
Pamplona to Santiago (2018)
I am surprised no one has mentioned blisters in this context. The downhill segment throws your feet forward in your shoes, tending to produce in blisters on your toes. Training for the camino should include steep downhill segments in the same hiking boots that will be worn on the camino, and with the filled backpack.
 

Seamus68

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Apr 2017
Camino Del Norte April 2018
Camino Frances - St Jean to Burgos 2019
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Have at least 1.5 ltrs of water some bananas and or glucose sweets... also I recommend you reserve in roncesvalle yes it’s tough but a great sense of achievement .. also leave early... keep rucksack weight down kr
 

Reelnan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 5, 2019
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Ok this is a really fun question!!! What does SJPDP stand for?
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15,16 & 19 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo
It's a matter of your previous hiking experience. If you have never done any hiking in hilly/mountainess terrain, then yes the first day out of SJPP would probably seem challenging to most.
After walking the Primitivo route last fall, easily half the days are tougher than SJPP to Roncesvalles. So when I walked the Frances again this year, it seemed pretty easy overall in comparison.
As others have stated your level of conditioning will make a huge difference and your pace. There is a tendency because the excitement of the first day to go on a bit of a tear and over extend yourself.
The reality of the Francis route is that two of the toughest days on it overall are day one and two. You need to be careful not to injure yourself in the first few days.
If something doesn't feel right, stop right away and figure out how to deal with it. Don't wait until the end of the day.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
Ok this is a really fun question!!! What does SJPDP stand for?
If you google "sjpdp" you will find the first hit explains - St. Jean Pied de Port. Also known (in Camino circles) as SJPP.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
Roncesvalles is do-able in a day, for sure. But I’d stay in Orisson next time. A very short leg, but I’d saunter out of St. Jean rather than burst out from the blocks.
If you do stay at Orisson there is no need to leave St Jean early. Have a leisurely breakfast and enjoy the town. I left around 11:00 this year, and had plenty of afternoon left.
2. I’d take the road option. The steep descent into Roncesvalles and rocky path were pretty tough. It’s possible that breaking it into two legs would make it a bit less damaging
I've taken the road every time. I don't want to risk injury before I've barely started!
I am surprised no one has mentioned blisters in this context. The downhill segment throws your feet forward in your shoes, tending to produce in blisters on your toes.
If you bring hiking sandals you can change into those for steep descents and completely avoid toe blister from downhills.
 

dqduncan

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015:SJPdP-Santiago
2016:Hosp. training
2017:Hospitalero,Aragonés@Arrés.
Next? Norte/Primitivo
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Quick reply as I prep for Norte and Primitive on Monday ....uphill isn't hellish...downhill can be.

go slowly. Use poles! The your time. Change your socks if they get sweaty. bring water and high energy food.


I did none of these and paid for it. :p

Buen Camino
 

hnguyen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
April-May 2013; (September 2014)
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
On my first CF, at age 67, I didn't go all the way from SJPDP to Roncevalles because I didn't want to push myself hard the very first day. As a polio survivor with an artificial knee I wasn't even sure I could complete the camino. So I made reservation at Orisson and was glad that I did. The scenery on that first day climb was spectacular - and I arrived at Orisson much quicker and fresher than I had thought. However I did discover that my backpack (at 19 pounds) as much too heavy. I shed all the "just in case" items in Roncevalles (that my thoughtful wife had encouraged me to bring along) and trimmed the pack down to 12 pounds. Six years later and with 4 caminos under my belt may I suggest that you keep your daily distances (especially at the beginning) to a reasonable number. There's no reason why the first day, or any day on the camino, should be "hellish"! Of course, keep your backpack as light as possible goes a long way toward this goal. Buen camino.
 

Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Northern Route - 2016
Santiago to Finestiere and Muxia - 2017
Frances Route - May 2018
Camino Ingles
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
I thought it would be harder than it was, but I was very please that I a) stayed in Orisson the first night and b) got my pack taken to Roncevalles
 

nevster1975

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (May 2019)
I did my first CF this year and had done no training at all. A friend had advised very strongly stopping on Orisson as a must. I didn't take that advice because I knew for me that I needed to get the hardest stage out of the way first and get going.
I did it and it was fine - I was worried befoe hand but I didn't need to be. I got to Orisson at 1030 having set off around 0815 almost wondering what the issue was and certainly not ready to call it a day.
SJPdP to Ronconvalles is very doable. The only thing I'd change about how I did it would have been to start slightly earlier. Ideally start by 0730.
Otherwise the advice I'd give
1) pre book Ronconvalles way in advance.
2) as you're starting out conciously walk at a slower pace that you know you can maintain. Take your time.
3) if the path decent to Ronconvalles is very muddy - take the road. Seek the advice of the pilgrim office in SJPdP.
I didn't do this and was fortunate to slip only once and snap my walking pole not myself. One person broke their ankle on the decent that day. Far better to walk further by road.

Take all the good advice and make a choice that feels right to you. Buen Camino.
 

Tina M.

Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 13, 2015
As others have said, take your time and remember this is your Camino.

I have walked both routes (Napoleon 2015 and Valcarlos 2018). I did not like the Valcarlos route. Some have said it’s easier or flatter and that is complete rubbish (IMHO). I stayed in Valcarlos and walking from SJPdP was enjoyable but the second day was awful. I found the paths in the woods to be very narrow and overgrown. I had to walk much slower than I did on the Napoleon route. As someone else mentioned, this route is very steep in a shorter distance, which again IMHO is terrible. My husband and I didn’t see one pilgrim walking from Valcarlos until we got to the area near the small church just before Roncesvalles.

When I walked the Napoleon route, I stayed my first night in Orison and I highly recommend this. It was an enjoyable first day walk (steep but fairly short) and I enjoyed Orison. The second day on the Napoleon walking to Roncesvalles was beautiful. The views are breathtaking. I walked the longer paved path into Roncesvalles instead of the steeper slippery downhill. I was happy I did because I heard many people saying they fell down the hill because it was so slippery.

Buen Camino!!
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
At the highest point of Napoleon route (or a bit later) you have two options of descending to Roncesvalles. If you take left path that's the one through the forest and may be very slippery in wet weather because of tree leaves. If you take right hand option is much less steeper and you first descend to Puerto de Ibaneta pass where you have again two options. Either take left one through the forest or right one on the main N-135 road (if you have any medical issues by that point the latter will be easier).
Simple map here: https://www.gronze.com/etapa/saint-jean-pied-port/roncesvalles

Valcarlos is on the Valcarlos Route which paralels N-135 through the valley more or less all the time and you would end up at Ibaneta Pass too. From there two options as described in above paragraph.
Thank You. Basically we are talking about the same thing inasmuch as I asked originally 'to clarify which route Paul was talking about is which'. Seems you confirmed that the slippery route is the 'left one' straight down through the forrest whereupon 'the right one' is not. I said 'drop you into Valcarlos' and what I meant was onto THAT (VC) route not the place itself.
So we are good. thanks again
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I am surprised no one has mentioned blisters in this context. The downhill segment throws your feet forward in your shoes, tending to produce in blisters on your toes. Training for the camino should include steep downhill segments in the same hiking boots that will be worn on the camino, and with the filled backpack.
There is lots of information posted - - and available via the search engine - - on those areas of concern which is periodically posted. On the downhill, shoes should be snugged at the forefoot and over the instep to minimize sliding. However, this is not as much of an issue for blister prevention as it is for preventing injury to toes and the nail bed, which can suffer painful damage. Proper sizing of the shoe (covered in another guide) is vital here, and no amount of lace tightening will prevent the banging of toes to the front of the shoes, if the size is insufficient.

With proper blister prevention techniques, even if the feet are sliding inside the shoes on a downhill grade, one will avoid blistering. It depends on if the proper techniques are incorporated; if not then your scenario will create the blister problem described.
 

inmari

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy - Pamplona (2013)
El Camino de San Olav, Burgos - Covarrubias (2014)
Pamplona - SdC (2015)
I was a bit scared by reading a lot about this steep section and thought it would be a challenge. So I started in Le Puy and walked to Pamplona, during that walk I produced enough fitness to avoid being exhausted. But I prebooked a night at Orisson and really found that useful - the rest was a "piece of cake", except for last part down to Roncesvalles. Thankfully it was a dry and sunny day!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Yes it’s tough and depends on the weather. I stayed in Orison and would probably recommend this but then I was 70.
 

Tony Bobcat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Hi Min200
I always stop over for the night at Orrison and I found that transporting some of my backpack doze help. Buen Camino
 

Bagman7540

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April/May 2018
My short answer to the question is...Yes... It is daunting. But that being said, and as many others here have said, it is absolutely doable at your own pace. I knew coming from sea level the elevation would do me in, so I stopped at Orisson breaking the "recommended" first day into two days. Do what you can do, make it your camino. The first day your body isn't used to the Camino routine yet, give yourself time to acclimate. Later in my camino I tried to push too far/fast, and caught an injury that cost all the time I thought I had picked up.
Buen Camino, and I hope you will love the whole as I did.
 

Rusty walker

Walking is traveling at the Speed of Life.
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Spring 2018
I walked the Valcarlos route in late March, as the Napoleon was under a meter of snow. It was hard, but if you can walk to Roncesvalles in one day, you can do anything on the CF. Buen Camino!
 

min200

Member
WOW! Good morning everyone :)
As you can tell by the delays between my replies I have to work away alot with little internet access but I am blown away by the sheer openness and detailed replies you have all popped onto this thread!
Thank you yet again for sharing your experiences and I feel much better prepared for starting my first day :)
Let the training begin!
 

Just Karin

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Vía de la Plata 2019
if you are in a very good condition, used to walking in mountains and you have strong legs, hips, knees and ancles: go for it!
If not on one of these: start earlier, like in Orthez, and walk a few shorter days. Really, só many people are injured that first day, it’s unbelievable.
I don’t understand why people think so easy about mountains and just ruin their knees, ancles or feet and have to stop right away, or have trouble the rest of their Camino. Don’t think too easy, don’t ruin yours - the Camino is not about doing more then your neighbor. Or go up even if the sign is closed.
Just remember people break bones and even die in the Pyrenees. It’s a wonderful trip but only do it in one go if you are experienced mountain walkers in a good condition.
Enjoy and Buen Camino 🙏🏻
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
If you do stay at Orisson there is no need to leave St Jean early. Have a leisurely breakfast and enjoy the town. I left around 11:00 this year, and had plenty of afternoon left.
Sure, but back in the day when I still used to be a strong hiker, I could leave SJPP at 11 and reach Roncesvalles in the evening. OK that was both times in conditions of already having 1000K of Camino in my legs, but it was also (one 10AM start and the other at 11) after needing 10-11 hours of sleep from fatigue out of the earlier stages.

The point is, it really is NOT by any stretch any kind of one-size-fits-all stage, nor was it even back in the day when the Orisson refuge was just a place for refreshments and munchies if you got up there early enough, but you still had to carry on else sleep outside.

Anyway, the descent down to Roncesvalles from up top simply is not as hard as the one down after Cruz de Ferro towards Triacastela -- it's just that on the latter one, far more pilgrims than from out of SJPP have hundreds of K in their legs to strengthen them, and so their experience of it is therefore likely to be less daunting.

One of the three variant routes down from the top of the border pass is anyway shorter and so steeper, but in my own experience the ascent is a lot longer and more tiring than the final descent.
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021"
Anyway, the descent down to Roncesvalles from up top simply is not as hard as the one down after Cruz de Ferro towards Triacastela -- it's just that on the latter one, far more pilgrims than from out of SJPP have hundreds of K in their legs to strengthen them, and so their experience of it is therefore likely to be less daunting.
It is my understanding that although steep it is not as wet. I think that safety-wise its a simple question of extra caution descending on the Roncesvalles via 'left' route due to the possibility of the slippery condition as amply mentioned on this thread.
 

Airdog

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September (2019) Camino Frances
You will find it below. My video was included as part of a series of other videos, filmed by by John Sikora, showing the entire Camino Frances as it looks while walking. Each video segment is 'hyperlapsed' so it lasts only 20 to 30 minutes to watch, instead of 5 to 8 hours.

Dave - just want to ask - did you take the easier/long route or the steeper/quick route at the split on the way down? I watched it all but it was hard to me to tell, having not done it yet!
 

longwalker60

Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2018
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Im a word, YES...and not for the faint hearted. Here is my take, no matter how hard you work out, (and I can recommend you cannot work out hard enough) that first day, is very difficult. Best of luck!
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Dave - just want to ask - did you take the easier/long route or the steeper/quick route at the split on the way down? I watched it all but it was hard to me to tell, having not done it yet!
The video shows the slightly longer, narrow roadway option, which ends after your descent at the Ibaneta chapel. Then you can either take a left on the busy roadway into Roncesvalles, or as is shown on the video, before you get to the road take the trail on your left (as you are facing the road).

59761
 

longwalker60

Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2018
I took the longer route, which is really not that much longer, but supposed to be a lot easier(not as steep) on your legs.
 

Gilmore Girl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
I recommend booking to stay at Refuge Orisson on the way up. I think it is a lot to do in one day ?1200 metres up and about 1,000 down, 26 km distance if I remember rightly. Especially if you aren’t used to climbing with a pack. I do walk in the Pyrenees, but I wouldn’t usually do that amount of climbing with that distance. Just depends on your hill walking fitness. Besides, Orisson is a lovely place to stay and meet people. Buen Camino.
 

Robrogers60

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2019
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
I’ll add my pence worth. This is an amazing section of trail, and yes it is pretty steep. But I wouldn’t rush it. I stopped at Orisson and found breaking up what is a challenging first day, suited me well. It also allowed me to listen to my body, and despite some spectacularly crappy weather I really really enjoyed the first 2 days out.
 

TomAptos

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016, Camino Portugues 2017, Via St Francis (Italy) 2018
Yes, the first day is the steepest climb on the Camino, and even though I would expect most hikers to be able to make it all the way to Roncesvalle... don't skip the night at Orisson if you can get a reservation. I thought that was one of the best nights on the entire Camino. Dinner with introductions all around, meeting people we would see over and over again for the next five weeks, most of us wondering what was ahead ... I loved it. My advice, don't skip Orisson.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
re blisters;
I met people as far as Burgos (who has crossed from SJPdP) who still suffered from terribly blistered feet, some cases of blisters beneath blisters...
lessons observed here were;
do not use trainers ( unless you know that you can do these distances with them)
do not use cotton socks and or synthetic ones as you cannot control the dampness and the friction,
and do spend extra time relacing when walking dowhill for hours...

My own personal lessons were;
My boots, which I need to protect MY ankles ( others might not need this ) were of AB stiffness index and I could still feel the big bake potato sized stones through the soles when going down that looong stretch at Zubiri-
Only this year I left my usual choice of boots and got myself a type B in sole stiffness, and I can now feel the difference

...and to have a bouncy gait with a straight back, knees pointing forward to spare my back and knees going downhill...(..and walking sticks)
When the first day hits you with disasters like these blisters from hell, yes, then will be a tough 2 weeks after that, long time healing and mending....

the post with the suggestion of starting in Le Puy or maybe just a weeks stretch before the Pyrenees is not far off, to toughen up and getting the strength in the legs...
 
Last edited:

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
The weather up on the top of the Napoleon Route can be much colder, and wetter, than what you met in SJpdP, and unpredictably changeable. If you are sending your pack ahead to lighten your load, do not go on without rain gear and warm clothing. They may save your life. You will be grateful for them if you meet rain and sleet at the top, as is fairly common, even in the summer season. This route is closed in winter.
 

Gilmore Girl

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
The weather up on the top of the Napoleon Route can be much colder, and wetter, than what you met in SJpdP, and unpredictably changeable. If you are sending your pack ahead to lighten your load, do not go on without rain gear and warm clothing. They may save your life. You will be grateful for them if you meet rain and sleet at the top, as is fairly common, even in the summer season. This route is closed in winter.
Yes, I needed all my layers, my gloves and my hat at the end of April the year I walked it. It was snowing and incredibly windy at the col. I would still recommend this as the views are usually amazing.
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
You will find it below. My video was included as part of a series of other videos, filmed by by John Sikora, showing the entire Camino Frances as it looks while walking. Each video segment is 'hyperlapsed' so it lasts only 20 to 30 minutes to watch, instead of 5 to 8 hours.

Gracias for the video,so nice to see the little Refugio to have a rest and lunch,so happy memories.
 

SeattleJen

Member
Camino(s) past & future
First time pilgrim and walking solo. Leaving SJDP around April 5, 2018.
93 responses thus far, so I'm not sure what value my two cents will add. I walked the Valcarlos route, but I wouldn't do it again. The Napoleon route had just opened when I left SJPDP (April 5, 2018), but I thought Valcarlos was the smarter choice because I was such a novice and because I hadn't had the time to train. I thought I was going to die on the second day (all sorts of rookie mistakes: ran out of water, didn't stock up on bananas and snacks in Valcarlos, etc), and the hills were killing me. Sure, lower altitude than Napoleon, but my body was insanely angry at the constant up-down-up-down-up-down-up-down. I sat on the side of the highway bawling and called my husband back in Seattle to tell him I was going to quit (it was right around where the dog kennel house is -- so close to Roncesvalles! But I didn't really know that). After talking to other pilgrims over the next 30 days, I realized Napoleon might have been the more merciful choice -- straight up and straight down. Done.

I don't really necessarily REGRET walking Valcarlos -- after all, my camino experience was my camino experience. However, if I ever decide to do it again I will walk the Napoleon route.

Good luck!
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
I was really afraid of Day 1 out of St. Jean!

I used my fear to train my body all summer. When I arrived at the end of August in St. Jean, I knew it was going to be tough, but had I confidence in my ability that I was going to make it. I was then able to relax and enjoy the experience.

Use to fear as a reason to train, rather then look for a shortcut!


-Paul
 

Gpel

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 15 (2018)
Good Afternoon everyone
:) As I sit here planning my next Camino trip I am wondering what your experiences were of the first day out of SJPDP.
How long did this, what looks like a rather hellish uphill kind of day, take each of you to complete? My plan is to go from SJPDP to Roncesvalles so any top tips would be appreciated
:)
Like you, this first day kept me up at night agonizing if I would be able to make the full trek. In the end, although difficult, was one of my favourite memories on the Camino. The scenery is breathtaking and the realization that “I’m actually doing this” makes for a wonderful day. My tips to you are first pre-book your hostel... the day we went, many were turned away as it was full. I chose to have my bag transported and only brought a small day bag with water and snacks. I also bought poles in St.Jean. I loved walking with them... like an extra set of arms and legs. We even named them after a few days on the hike, as they became good reliable friends on the walk. My last tip... on high inclines take BABY STEPS. I mean this quite literally. I found small, slow, intentional steps were far less exhausting than a longer stride uphills. We flew in the night before after three flights from Canada, arrived late, up early to catch the train. Then ran around St.Jean to register, ditch bags, eat breakfast, buy snacks and didn’t start until 930 am and still made it to the top before 6 pm... which still allowed us many mini breaks throughout the day. Wishing you well on your journey!
 
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