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Tenderly Over The Mountain.......Part 1. St Jean to Orisson

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CFx2, CPx1
This is a bit long but I wanted to tell my story of the Route Napoleon, for scaredy-cats like me. I faced the mountain with some trepidation.

The link to Part 2 - Orisson to Roncesvalles, is at the very end of this post.



Fell down the wet slippery steps going down into the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam didn’t I. My back cracked against the step rises on the way down. How could I be this stupid knowing what’s ahead of me?
Clumsy galoot I am.

It’s 4 or 5 days later and the bruise is coming out, but it’s still hurting. I’m in St Jean Pied de Port, standing on the bridge over the River Nive at the bottom of Rue de la Citadelle. I’m looking up towards the Pyrenees, wondering if I can make it up there the next morning.
“You’re only going to Orisson, it’s only 7 or 8k’s, don’t be a pussy,” I’m thinking.
I go for a slow test walk for half an hour up the Route Napoleon, then back again. No worries there cobber, but I decide to be careful, send my pack ahead.
After a walk up to look around the Citadelle at the top of the hill, I wander back and stop at the hustle of the Pilgrim office. These kind folks take my details, give me a credential, and advise that the weather tomorrow should be fine, although to prepare for chilly winds up high. Surely I'll be ok. I'm only going the 8ks to Orisson.

Next morning is fine and crisp. A little floppy daypack holds my poncho, two water bottles, guide book and some tucker. I take my main pack to the Auberge office, complete a supplied stringed envelope with the address details, enclose some euros, tie it to my pack. The auberge will advise the forwarding service who will collect my pack and deliver it to the address on the envelope. Everything's hunky dory, hopefully.

Lazy me, around tennish I head off, from L’Auberge du Pelerin, down Rue de la Citadelle, thru the arch, over the bridge and up Rue d’Espagne. Out and up into the countryside I go.
I’m trying to work my Pacer Poles as per the instructions, and putting into practice all the advice given me by our forum members.
“Head up. Shoulders back. Open your chest. Slow down! This is not a race!”
Every five minutes or so I repeat my mantra until I find a gentle steady rhythm.
Guess what! Yellow arrows! I’m on the Way!
What a lovely walk this is. Up thru the lush, green treed, farmed foothills.
When my legs get a little weary I stop, pull my camera out and take a photo.
I figure if I do the camera thing then fit hiking type pilgrims won’t know that I’m resting, and not really a proper pilgrim yet.
I’m ‘Buen Caminoing’ everyone I meet.
Nearly all pass by. They’re walking faster than me. That’s good.
There's about three really quite steep sections, of about 100 metres each. That's ok. I just slow right down and plod gently uphill.
At an orientation display board I have a good break and a munch-up. I sit in the grass with my boots off. From here I overlook the villages in the valleys far below, and the beautiful countryside up thru which I’ve walked.

I head off again, repeating my mantra. Getting steadily higher now. I’m looking for the tree just before Orisson. I’ve seen it so many times in photos, sitting on the side of the Way with Refuge Orisson nestled into the hillside behind it.
Round a corner and suddenly here it is! And here is me!
Made it just fine didn’t I. It’s nowhere near as tough as I feared.
Three and a quarter hours. I think I’m going to like this pilgrim lark.

The lasses at Orisson find my reservation and check me in.
Here’s my pack. So that bag forwarding thing works then.
They give me a shower token, tell me the time for dinner and show me the way to my dorm bunk. I shower, dress, wash my clothes. Gotta get into this routine now.
I get a beer from the bar and wander across the road to a seating area with fine views down into deep valleys and across the tops of Pyrennean Peaks towards the Mediterranean.
Can’t think of a better place to relax on a fine afternoon.

Beer finished I go back to the dorm and climb onto my comfy bunk for a rest.
I glance at Brierley’s Map Guide, checking the elevation for tomorrow.
Then out comes the Kindle. I have all my other books on it.
I first check Jack Hitt’s book "Off the Road". I’ve decided to read the chapters that corresponded to my journey as I progress along the Way.
I read and learn, until Jack leaves St Jean.
Next is the great classic of French literature. "The Song of Roland".
It's about Roland & Charlemagne and their travails in Basque country. I want to be a little knowledgeable on what happened, as tomorrow I’ll be up near where the battle took place.
I’ll drink from Roland’s fountain. How cool is that!
It’s quite a long poem so I skip quickly thru groups of stanzas, just to get the hang of the events which led up to the Battle of Roncesvalles Pass, and then to the battle itself.
Here’s a stanza about one of Roland’s knights, Gerein, engaging the moor Malprimis of Brigal.

Gerein to Malprimis of Brigal sped,
Whose good shield stood him no whit in stead;
Its knob of crystal was cleft in twain,
And one half fell on the battle plain.
Right through the hauberk, and through the skin,
He drave the lance to the flesh within;
Prone and sudden the heathen fell,
And Satan carried his soul to hell.

It’s rollicking good poetry. Highly recommended reading.

“The moon! the moon!” a voice exclaims. I’m off the bunk and to the window. I see it rising in the East over the Pyrenees, under high cloud cover. What a sight.
I grab the camera and down I go and across to the viewing platform where I happily snap away. I figure it’s best to take a heap of shots and maybe I’ll fluke one really good one every now and then.
Then I decide to climb up the hill behind Refuge Orisson and get an overview photo.
Not a good idea. I clamber over a wire fence and up the hill, but on the damp grass I slip-stumble out of my rubber scuffs and stand on a thistle. I hobble back down and sit outside the Refuge door, pulling prickles out of my foot.

“Dinner time,” someone calls. Diners, I count 47, gather and sit along both sides of three long wooden tables. Bread accompanies big tureens of thickly vegetabled soup. Yum! I’m starving. I only have three helpings. Then big dishes of meat and bean casserole. Only two helpings. Then a little crème caramel thingy for dessert. All accompanied by big earthenware jugs of red wine spread along the tables.
If the tucker is always going to be this good I’m going to be one happy pilgrim.

I’ve ducked out to the loo and am squeezing back between diners when the head server lass calls us to attention. She introduces, to our great applause, the chef and staff who have prepared and served our meal. She then tells of the tradition that after dinner pilgrims stand, state their name, where they come from and the reason they are walking the Camino.
I’ve heard about this. They do it at some of the Auberges in St Jean also.
“And as you are already standing up we’ll start with you,” she says pointing at me.
“Ok,” I say. The vino tinto has given me courage.
I state my name and my reasons for doing the Camino and everybody applauds.
Then follows an uneasy silence. Whose going to be next?
“Right,” I say, “I’m going to nominate the next speaker, and then that person will speak then nominate the next, and so on until we are all done. I nominate you.” I point to a lady at the next table.
From all round the world they’ve come.
One of our fellow pilgrims is a priest, who tells us he has walked the Camino eight times, and advises that it will change our lives forever.
We’ll see I guess.
I only have to winkle a few shy ones up to speak.
Three quarters of an hour, vino tinto, and lots of applause and laughter later, we are indeed a happy group.
I recall ‘The Canterbury Tales’, and Geoffrey Chaucer’s newly met, happy group of pilgrims, after their first dinner, 600 years ago.
“I was of their fellowship anon,” he said, and “Well we weren easèd at the best.”
Things haven’t changed Geoffrey.
Something special happens here.

We are ready for a reasonably early night, and as I snuggly down into my sleeping bag I’m hoping I won’t snore and annoy my pilgrim dorm mates. My prickled foot seems ok, but I’m a bit concerned about tomorrow.
17ks over the mountain to Roncesvalles. Never walked that far in one day before. A daily 10k brisk city walk, with a half hour break in the middle, is what my training regime finally reached.
I have decided to carry my pack tomorrow, but to again be very careful about taking it easy.
My pacing experience tells me that brisk walking equates to 5ks an hour, steady strolling/sauntering to 4ks, and steady uphill to 3ks.
Tomorrow then, at say 3ks an hour, with three good breaks, that’s 7ish hours.
If I leave at 8am, and all goes according to plan, I should make it to Roncesvalles around 3pm. That will give me plenty of daylight in case anything untoward happens. The weather forecast is again for clear skies with chilly winds across the tops.
Anyway, there will be lots of pilgrims around to help if I get into trouble. The fit hiking type pilgrims walking St Jean to Roncesvalles in one day (most people do) should be catching up and passing me from late morning onward.
I’m a little tentative, a little excited, but I think I’ve covered everything, and I reckon I should be fine.
Sleep comes quickly.

Regards
Gerard.


John O’Hagan’s translation of the great French classic ‘The Song Of Roland’, from where the above verse is taken, is online. It’s a bit long, but worth persevering with, even if you skip thru it like I did.
http://www.bartleby.com/49/2/

Michael Murphy has also placed online his wonderful translation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘The Canterbury Tales. I swear it’s not difficult, and, if you have the time and inclination, you will be entertained and rewarded with Geoffrey’s stunning descriptions of medieval pilgrims who are about to set off.
http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/webcore/murphy/canterbury/2genpro.pdf

And lastly the original guide book to Santiago. Book five of the ‘The Codex Calixtinus’.
A 12th century manuscript believed to have been arranged by the French scholar Aymeric Picaud. It gives detail and advice for pilgrims going to Santiago. In it are found descriptions of the routes at the time, works of art to be seen along the way, and the customs of the local people.
(In the movie “The Way” this is the guide book that Jack was rambling on about when Tom got drunk and was locked up)
It is informative and entertaining and whatever you do don’t miss chapter V11.
This online translation courtesy of Denis Murphy.
https://sites.google.com/site/caminodesantiagoproject/home


Part 2. Tenderly over the Mountain.....Orisson to Roncesvalles
https://www.caminodesantiago.me/com...untain-…part-2-orisson-to-roncesvalles.23525/
 
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pippa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 September.
thank you Gerardcarey, I did enjoy this read. thanks for sharing. roll on September when I will be going...
 

alicia

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Camino Frances (27 Mar - May)
Thank you, I really enjoyed reading your post.
I was a little hesitant at first about reading it because, God willing, we embark on the same journey in late March... just trying to avoid setting expectations but I just couldn't stop reading. I pictured it as you went along and you never know... depending on the weather in late March 2014, this may be the closest I get to walking the Route Napoleon.

However; I know that whatever lies in store and whatever route our journey takes, that will be our journey and nothing will make our pilgrimage more personal than those unexpected details we experience.
I am truly happy for you this first day of this new year!
Blessings,
A Diaz
 

DeadFred

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean-Los Arcos ,Sept, Oct 14'
Los Arcos - Logrono-May16'
Next Logrono to ? - Sept 2019
Nice writing , I totally enjoyed. Thanks for the links gives me some good reading on the history of Camino and of course Roland , Looking forward to leg 2 of your Pyrenees adventure
 

Madidi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2012 & 17: Fisterra Muxia 2013 & 2015: Ingles 2014: Madrid 2015: Salvador & Primitivo 2016
Beautifully written as always Gerard.

Take care, be safe,

'Un muy feliz año nuevo'

S.
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CFx2, CPx1
Yeah !…. BUT where are YOU now !!! where is the follow up ???????? ;)
Been away a few days. Replaced the front door for a tent flap. Got a packet of chocolates from a walking mate in Conneticutt yesterday. 37C here in Brisbane yesterday. They weren't in very good shape!
Will finish up the follow up tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone.
Regds
Gerard
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CFx2, CPx1
I was just about to post the same.
I would love to read a book you've written. What a joy!
Give me a break you lot will ya?
I haven't got the discipline required for a book. Maybe if and when we've got enuf of these little stories we could think about combining them.
Anyway, don't think I've got enuf true stories for a book.
Regds and tks for your comments.
Gerard
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Give me a break you lot will ya?
I haven't got the discipline required for a book. Maybe if and when we've got enuf of these little stories we could think about combining them.
Anyway, don't think I've got enuf true stories for a book.
Regds and tks for your comments.
Gerard


The shoes off half way to Orrison ..come off it mate.
The kids are laughing as i write to indicate that the Carey's living in Brissie did not come from Mayo...they are a throwaway mob.
You know the name Thornley is not correct Gerard and if you are ever in this wonderful city down south i will let you read " Around The Boree Log ".
The Carey's get a going over in the Old Bush School and a mention in The Old Mass Shandrydan,

Your writings could venture to a book if you gave up the grog at the Breekie Creek and commenced in France , just a few days in so you would be of sound mind...opps....and fitness by the time you reach St. JPDD.

Safe travels and happy New Year mate,
David
 
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caminoforme86

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2013 - December 2013
Great read!

Wast there 47 pilgrims in the Orisson Refuge on the 1st of January? There was no where near that many people starting off from St Jean Pied de Port when I left on the 30th October 2013!
 

caminoforme86

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2013 - December 2013
Oh I see now from another post that this isn't in real time, this is an account from before. Great stuff to read :)
 

Annie Little

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Sept-Oct 2016
Give me a break you lot will ya?
I haven't got the discipline required for a book. Maybe if and when we've got enuf of these little stories we could think about combining them.
Anyway, don't think I've got enuf true stories for a book.
Regds and tks for your comments.
Gerard

hahahaha… are you feeling a bit TOOOOO popular Gerard;)…… I also have to chime in that I too enjoy your entertaining way of writing AND am looking forward to the book:cool:
 

Kerstinh47

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 16 May - 29 June, 2014
Oh, I loved reading this!!!!!! Thank you, thank, thank you.
I will begin mid-May and my favorite things to read include details of the writer's personal thoughts - I'm chiming in on the when-is-the-book-coming-out chorus!

Kerstin
 

bystander

Veteran Member
Gerard, you cannot write up the first two parts of your Camino so eloquently, a bit like "amuse guele" in a posh restaurant and not expect your adoring public to want more!
Maybe not the main course yet, but keep feeding us.
I know it is hot in Brisbane at this time of year and as to that sniping from Thornley in Melbourne, I will leave you to sort out.

But the temperature/humidity in Brisbane is no excuse to deprive us of more of your Camino.

FEED US !
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CFx2, CPx1
Your writings could venture to a book if you gave up the grog at the Breekie Creek and commenced in France
Now there's a thought. But it would take a while. I'd miss the beer on the wood severely. Probly take from now til the end of august to get over the withdrawal systems. That being the case I'll plan on a French start in September. Might have to put a bottle in the pack to celebrate on the top of the Col de Lepoeder.
Gerard
 

gerardcarey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CFx2, CPx1
Maybe not the main course yet, but keep feeding us.
These two were a bit special cause it was celebrating New Year and everyone is in a relaxed holiday reading mood, so they were a bit long and close together. I usually try for one a fortnight as I don't want to clutter up the forum too much with my waffle.
Anyway I think I need to get everyone mad at me again, like when I posted 'Was Mick Right?....Was Mick Wrong?'. That did the trick.
Regds
Gerard
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
These two were a bit special cause it was celebrating New Year and everyone is in a relaxed holiday reading mood, so they were a bit long and close together. I usually try for one a fortnight as I don't want to clutter up the forum too much with my waffle.
Anyway I think I need to get everyone mad at me again, like when I posted 'Was Mick Right?....Was Mick Wrong?'. That did the trick.
Regds
Gerard


You got Falcon in trouble Gerard, behave yourself or the french will not allow you in Le Puy.
 

Edda

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
The clock is ticking and the Camino is calling. On the way shortly...
As my pre-Camino jitters are kicking in before the grand voyage in 10 days, I ran into your post. I found your descriptive narrative of the first day on SJPP quite encouraging, reassuring and last but not least heartwarming.

Cheers,

Edda
 

Peter Fransiscus

Be a Rainbow in someone else's cloud.
Camino(s) past & future
All that we are is the result of what we have thought.
As my pre-Camino jitters are kicking in before the grand voyage in 10 days, I ran into your post. I found your descriptive narrative of the first day on SJPP quite encouraging, reassuring and last but not least heartwarming.

Cheers,

Edda
Hi Edda, you will do just fine. It's a walk you never will forget.
Wish you a wonderful journey and a Buen Camino, Peter.
 

M. McNabb

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago
These two were a bit special cause it was celebrating New Year and everyone is in a relaxed holiday reading mood, so they were a bit long and close together. I usually try for one a fortnight as I don't want to clutter up the forum too much with my waffle.
Anyway I think I need to get everyone mad at me again, like when I posted 'Was Mick Right?....Was Mick Wrong?'. That did the trick.
Regds
Gerard
I loved your read!!!
 

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