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Thread alerting pilgrims of HAZARDOUS sections!

2020 Camino Guides

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
The recent sad deaths of two German pilgrims while maneuvering a hazardous section on the Camino made me think on how often have I seen a thread on this forum specifically warning of places along the Camino where special alerts are needed due to hazardous condition for walkers. I read a description of the spot where this horrifIc accident occurred and it sounds as if it was preventable. We have dozens of threads about albergues, packing, and foot care....PLEASE CAN WE DISCUSS SAFETY!!
 

jirit

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
I do agree that we should have some site that highlights the hazardous sections.

This said, I have actually met people that have had accidents in all types of places.

For example I met one woman who fell in the shower and fractured her leg from top to bottom - it could have been much worse.
I myself fell forward and sliced open my left hand - and only realized later that I could fractured my skull when the doctor told me about a woman on a bike that went head over heels on the pavement and had to be taken the hospital.
I have heard stories of people simply falling down a flight a stone stairs, falling out of bunk beds, and worse.

Given the number of people that walk, bike, ride, etc the camino each year (over 200,000 this year) I am surprised how little people do not get seriously injured or die. For a small city sized group of pilgrims the camino could be considered one of the safest "cities" around.

The forum, given that we freely exchange information, has been very effective in highlighting all the types of hazards of walking and biking the camino.

Tragic events like this remind us to be aware of our surroundings whether we are walking on busy narrow road, or walking down a flight of stairs, or taking a shower.

This said, this does not remove from the pain, sadness and sorry we experience when one of our follow pilgrims dies due some very tragic event.
 

Yallah

Camino Guidebooks (Village to Village)
Camino(s) past & future
Francés, Finisterre, Portugués, Norte, Primitivo, Inglés
I thought Villafranca Montes de Oca was the most treacherous road crossing. Trucks came racing through the town full speed and there was no crosswalk.

The bridge before Puente Castro entering Leon used to be terrible, but thankfully a new walker footbridge was installed.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
I thought Villafranca Montes de Oca was the most treacherous road crossing. Trucks came racing through the town full speed and there was no crosswalk.
I completely agree. And we saw pilgrims walking on the wrong side when they were crossing the very narrow bridge heading into town, while the trucks were barreling by beside them. I still shudder when I think of it.

I think people who come from countries where they drive 'on the wrong side of the road' tend to gravitate to the side of the road that they are accustomed to. As someone already said on the forum "Walk facing the traffic".
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
One horrendous spot used to be crossing the old historic bridge at Puente Villarente which was far too narrow for two lanes of traffic plus pedestrians; since late last autumn a new pedestrian-only bridge is open. Pilgrims can now safely cross in ease.

However at the Alto del Perdon the descent on scree towards Uterga is always very steep and rough. Walking in bad weather ie heavy rain, fog or snow it can be pure hell and a dangerous pathless whirlpool.

Another dangerous steep descent on slippery loose shale is the camino path from El Acebo, which always IS a pleasant place to stop. You can avoid the dangerous shale by walking down the rural route LE-140 until Molinasecca.

Walking on any surface can be dangerous when it is hidden by mud, rain, fog or snow; when you can't see what is beneath your feet tread with GREAT care.

For further comments on potential difficulties see also this earlier Forum thread >> http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/most-challenging-sections-on-the-camino-frances.16249/

Margaret Meredith
 
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ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe we can make a new post for each spot? If all are listed in this thread they might get lost. Then people can add photos later on... Just an idea..

Saludos,
Ivar
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
A good idea Ivar. Certainly at least a new thread for each Camino, rather than each spot maybe.
Would it also be helpful to lock this - asking that folk do post on the new threads? :)
 
K

karenfromcali

Guest
A good idea Ivar. Certainly at least a new thread for each Camino, rather than each spot maybe.
Would it also be helpful to lock this - asking that folk do post on the new threads? :)
I think locking the thread might be a good idea then pilgrims who have never walked can see instantly the danger areas versus trying to read through posts to find them.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
I have just started a thread re Hazards on the Camino Primitivo.
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
IVAR-- as always, thank you for listening and responding to the needs of Camino Pilgrims' community. I think this thread honors the memory of the two gentleman who lost their life yesterday by bringing awareness that while this is an ancient route, the dangers are very 21st Century.

I, too, witnessed many ocassions where trucks came so close to the side of the road and pilgrims distracted looking at maps, or the scenery or by conversation. All it takes is a split second. For example-- BEWARE of the approach to VILLAFRANCA MONTES DE OCA. The entrance to the town is a popular truck stop. It is also a crossroads for pilgrims. The bridge right before the town has zero sidewalks so you pretty much share the bridge with huge trucks going by. Scary.
 

jirit

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
Another option is to generate a Google map with placeholders marking the hazardous areas - much the same way as marking the location of an albergue or cafe, etc. A brief description of the hazard could accompany the placeholder marker.

This along with a simple downloadable PDF spreadsheet listing each hazardous area, a brief description of the hazard, the mileage indicator, and the before and after towns, could be all that people need.
 

susanawee

susanawee
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
IVAR-- as always, thank you for listening and responding to the needs of Camino Pilgrims' community. I think this thread honors the memory of the two gentleman who lost their life yesterday by bringing awareness that while this is an ancient route, the dangers are very 21st Century.

I, too, witnessed many ocassions where trucks came so close to the side of the road and pilgrims distracted looking at maps, or the scenery or by conversation. All it takes is a split second. For example-- BEWARE of the approach to VILLAFRANCA MONTES DE OCA. The entrance to the town is a popular truck stop. It is also a crossroads for pilgrims. The bridge right before the town has zero sidewalks so you pretty much share the bridge with huge trucks going by. Scary.
I also found this particular section of the Camino to be very dangerous and witnessed several Pilgrims ignoring the trucks and acting in a very Cavalier manner.
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Another option is to generate a Google map with placeholders marking the hazardous areas - much the same way as marking the location of an albergue or cafe, etc. A brief description of the hazard could accompany the placeholder marker.

This along with a simple downloadable PDF spreadsheet listing each hazardous area, a brief description of the hazard, the mileage indicator, and the before and after towns, could be all that people need.
The Camino Resource section is good for "home made pdfs" like this...
http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/resources/
... the google map would also be useful, but more complicated to implement unless one person volunteers to update it. (As @falcon269 has done regarding the Camino Calendar). If we can make it easy for people to update/add information, I am all ears and will implement it here. :)

Have a good sunday!
Ivar
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Hazards on shared roads with vehicles of all sizes and velocities along the Camino Portugues are absolutely the worse. There are several place where I would never walk again.
 

christer1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
none (yet)
I must be missing something Christer,what do you mean?.........:confused:........Vicrev
I have thought about what I posted and have come to the conclusion that I can't put my point across any clearer than I already have. My apologies.
 
K

karenfromcali

Guest
I have encountered no hazardous parts of the camino if one has one ounce of common sense and are not missing several senses. I don't mean to sound harsh but I am being serious.
I'm reading about no sidewalks combined with large, fast driving vehicles. Sounds hazardous to me no matter where in the world it is!
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Some crossings on the CF can be problematic due to wind. Close to Leon amidst industrial sprawl and just east of the Hospital Psiquiatrico Sta Isabel a metal pedestrian bridge now carries pilgrims high above the auto-routes. When I got there in November 2010 the wind was so terrific that at first I could NOT MOVE! Seeking help but seeing no other pilgrim I backed down the ramp and calmly walked into a nearby very elegant car showroom. After I explained that I needed assistance to cross the slightly astonished but VERY chic manager put on his coat and took my arm. Eventually we both made it across, wind-blown and breathless! With a casual 'Adios' he further added that he had never walked the Camino and if it was all like this crossing he certainly never would!... Hopefully this November all will be calmer.

Margaret Meredith
 

christer1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
none (yet)
I'm reading about no sidewalks combined with large, fast driving vehicles. Sounds hazardous to me no matter where in the world it is!
Yes potentially hazardous but I never felt in danger anywhere. One could slip on the rocks a few k down from Crux de Ferro and end one's journey in less than a second but potential hazards are perpetual. What I meant was that I have not seen a single place that was hazardous as long as you are alert:)
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
Whoever believes that there are no points along an 800 Kms trail in rural Northern Spain that could be considered hazardous.

Are there preventable measures to deal with those...? Absolutely. Do that makes them non-hazardous...?

There are: 1) steep downhills (i.e. commonly covered with wet rocks) 2) sections with known sudden weather changes, i.e. thunderstorms, 3) long stretches without water source, 4) stretches walking along highways heavily transited by (huge!) trucks, 5) bridges with no "walking shoulders" shared with (huge!) trucks, 6) long sections with no shade, 7) sections with steep side incline (falling hazards), 8) sections with unsafe water supplies, 9) sections without medical support for at least 20 Kms radius, 10) sections with potential trigger altitude sickness, etc, etc, etc...

I only listed 10 that I encountered, I am sure there are many more. As somebody said well-- Don't walk the Camino before walking the Camino...

AWARENESS and PREPARATION is what this thread is about.
 

christer1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
none (yet)
The problem with this thread (apart from the fact that I have no common sense as confidently stated by Olivares) is that Olivares does not appreciate that this thread is highly subjective.

Slippery rocks? Unexpected weather? Longer stretches without water? Walking alongside busy road? Sure, but NONE of these are particular to the way from sjpdp to sdc - these factors are almost always there when hiking. Hell, some of them are present when I am back in London!

I personally don't think that it is responsible to alarm people with a thread named in this fashion.
 

vicrev

Active Member
Sorry christer ....you might not need that sort of Info,but,I think you will find a lot of us wrinklies would welcome it !!!!.......;).........Vicrev
 

freescot

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
La Plata (2010) Portuguese from Coimbra(2010) Levante (2011) La Lana (2013) Francés from Roncevalles to Molinasaca then the Camino de Invierno (2014)
....Where exactly are these hazards on the Portugues ??.........Vicrev
I walked from Coimbra in 2010 and many of the stretches on road, which formed the greatest part of the camino Portuguese Porto were dangerous because of the Portuguese driving and some of the small streets in the villages. There is a very bad part where the road is walled on both sides around Rates, if I remember correctly. Perhaps someone else will be more specific.
 

homa_bird

Member
I ran into one life-threatening situation that was truly terrifying...

the Michelin map (Camino de Santiago; St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiage de Compostela) has a wrong section for stage 29 out of Samos to Sarria.

A few kilometers outside Samos, my map said to stay next to highway LU 633 and walk into Sarria that way. It did NOT indicate there was a trail through the Pascais, Gontan, Calvor section to Sarria.

The actual physical trail was pretty well marked, and indicated walkers should take the Pascais Gontan etc. way, but there were still some old shell and arrow markers indicating, it appeared to me, that there was an alternate trail along LU 633. Soooo, I decided to stick to the highway rte, since that trail looked way shorter, and we had been walking beside the highway inside of these safe walled off ped zones beside the river Valcarce in the days before this. Plus my Michelin guide had been pretty good so far, so I decided to stick with this.

WRONG! after about 4 kilometers, I spent the next two hours dodging speeding trucks with no shoulder, dashing back and forth across the highway so I wouldn't be caught on a blind curve with no shoulder. It was pretty terrifying. Made it into Sarria kinda jangled. grateful but jangled.

The Michelin map must have been made before that super highway went in? or was enlarged? Back when this was the main trail? In any case, it's not the way to go. DEF not the way to go. Danger Danger
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
OMG! I just bought that guide in preparation for a return trip to the Camino. THANK YOU so much for the warning. I will check the map and write notes based on your feedback. Thanks again!!
 

tploomis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept. to Nov., 2013
I have encountered no hazardous parts of the camino if one has one ounce of common sense and are not missing several senses. I don't mean to sound harsh but I am being serious.
I second this view point. I just completed the Camino Frances and found no sections that were particularly dangerous or worth a lot of concern. Actually I was impressed with how safe the Camino was. For the most part there was remarkably little traffic and drivers were almost always very courteous. Of course the cities require attention to traffic signals and vehicular traffic, but this is the same anywhere in the world.
 

Gailsie

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Fall '09 ;
That albergue was my favourite on my camino in 2009, such wonderful hosts and such a beautiful spot.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I would like to add my voice to those who think this thread is unnecessarily alarmist.
There are no glaringly dangerous places on the camino frances, at least not in a consistent way -- circumstances go bad, accidents happen, but really... telling people in advance that the Camino Frances is a hazardous place is just creating fear where there should be none.
If you listen to weather info. and use some common sense, you will be fine.
Thousands of people will walk and bike this route this year. A tiny percentage will be injured or killed, a statistical likelihood in any undertaking that involves so many. Getting all "het up" in advance is not going to help anyone.

Aside from all that, dealing with unexpected challenges and surprises is part of the trip! Let´s not sanitize this into a theme-park thrill ride, OK?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I am not criticizing anybody. I am stating a considered opinion.
I believe my fellow pilgrims are not unsafe. The camino is not unsafe.
Whatever "critical drumbeat" you hear is not coming from me.
Feel free to share whatever info you like.

Enjoy your break.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
there have been deaths from traffic interface
Only rarely, and the circumstances usually explain why thousands walked safely while someone was injured. It takes really bad luck or a small amount of negligence to be injured. No one should be alarmed even about the intersection of pedestrian ways and highways. If you take a wrong turn and end up on a highway, yes, you may have jangled nerves. Otherwise, just take normal precautions and do not insist on the pedestrian right of way. You will be fine.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
the Michelin map (Camino de Santiago; St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiage de Compostela) has a wrong section for stage 29 out of Samos to Sarria.

A few kilometers outside Samos, my map said to stay next to highway LU 633 and walk into Sarria that way. It did NOT indicate there was a trail through the Pascais, Gontan, Calvor section to Sarria.

...
The Michelin map must have been made before that super highway went in? or was enlarged? Back when this was the main trail? In any case, it's not the way to go. DEF not the way to go. Danger Danger
I had the Michelin guidebook and walking from Samos to Samaria, the guidebook showed the route as hugging that highway. But by following the markers, you hike a few hours through the forest and reconnect with the northern route from Tricastela to Sarria. There are no bars or water along that route out of Samos until you connect with the northern trail. I was annoyed with Michelin that day, as the real route makes the Samos route considerably longer than the northern route. I think what Michelin was showing was the cycle route.
 

colinPeter

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SDC (2009) Somport-Jaca, Burgos-SDC, Cee-Muxia (2012) Le Puy - Aumont-Aubrac (2014) SJPP-SDC (Oct 2015)
...Michelin guidebook and walking from Samos .... showed the route as hugging that highway.
Yes, not a particularly pleasant walk from Samos to Sarria via Alan (Highway). However, I found the walk from Triacastela to Samos to very nice.
If I walk again via Samos, I would use the trail via Viega de Reiriz (only 3k more than the highway) back to the San Mamede route to Sarria.
Buen Camino
Colin
 

BeatriceKarjalainen

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: Nothing planned
I had the Michelin guidebook and walking from Samos to Samaria, the guidebook showed the route as hugging that highway. But by following the markers, you hike a few hours through the forest and reconnect with the northern route from Tricastela to Sarria. There are no bars or water along that route out of Samos until you connect with the northern trail. I was annoyed with Michelin that day, as the real route makes the Samos route considerably longer than the northern route. I think what Michelin was showing was the cycle route.
In Brierley's book the highway isn't even marked as an option and there was no signs pointing out the highway as an option either when I walked. I thought the people I saw walking on to the highway made a mistake I would never selected that route. The 9,5 km from Samos to Perros was really nice. There are no bars and almost no other pilgrims in that beautiful forrest and the small hamlets are nice. The Samos way is 6,4 km longer than Can sil, that is for me about one hour walk so maybe two for slow walkers and that is almost nothing compared to the whole route :)
 

AnnieY

AnnieY
Camino(s) past & future
September 2014
Im hoping to do my first camino this September starting at SJPP, Im feeling very nervous about the climb to the top and descent, does anyone have any pictures of what its like?
 

AnnieY

AnnieY
Camino(s) past & future
September 2014
Whoever believes that there are no points along an 800 Kms trail in rural Northern Spain that could be considered hazardous.

Are there preventable measures to deal with those...? Absolutely. Do that makes them non-hazardous...?

There are: 1) steep downhills (i.e. commonly covered with wet rocks) 2) sections with known sudden weather changes, i.e. thunderstorms, 3) long stretches without water source, 4) stretches walking along highways heavily transited by (huge!) trucks, 5) bridges with no "walking shoulders" shared with (huge!) trucks, 6) long sections with no shade, 7) sections with steep side incline (falling hazards), 8) sections with unsafe water supplies, 9) sections without medical support for at least 20 Kms radius, 10) sections with potential trigger altitude sickness, etc, etc, etc...

I only listed 10 that I encountered, I am sure there are many more. As somebody said well-- Don't walk the Camino before walking the Camino...

AWARENESS and PREPARATION is what this thread is about.
do you have any pictures of the ascent or descent leaving SJPP, just feeling slightly anxious!
 
AnnieY - No need to feel anxious about the Napoleon route. Yes there is an accumulated climb and descent but nothing very steep or dangerous. Just don't take the forest track option towards the end. What time of year you going? This time onwards there are plenty of people around.
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
Agree AnnieY- you will see Roncesvalles at a distance and that's when the descent will start getting a bit more steep. You will come to a point where you can go left towards a forrested area or right on an asphalted road much less steeper. It is marked with wooden posts. I recommend you go right. It may be a bit longer (400 meters longer to be exact) but the descent is more gradual and much "knee-hip friendlier". Also, the right option takes you by Ibañeta where there is a lovely chapel (Capilla de San Salvador) built on the spot where there was a medieval bell shed that used to rang after dark hours to guide pilgrims still in the mountains. These last 4 kms just take a deep breath, take your time and enjoy it. Buen Camino!
 

pbucilla

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances May -June 2014

AnnieY

AnnieY
Camino(s) past & future
September 2014
Annie, I just finished watching the video that Gunnar did of the entire route. You might find the first one particularly helpful. It's an excellent series showing what the terrain and scenery is like. http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/movie-radio-buen-camino-a-r-r-i-v-a-l.12338/ Pennie
Thanks Pennie, have now watched it - I just wanted to get an idea on how rough those tracks are - felt a little more comfortable seeing that as Im used to scrambling around, and despite climbing experience I never take anything outdoors for granted! Have you done this route? I'm planning to do it in September, it looks like alone at the moment!
 

pbucilla

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances May -June 2014
Thanks Pennie, have now watched it - I just wanted to get an idea on how rough those tracks are - felt a little more comfortable seeing that as Im used to scrambling around, and despite climbing experience I never take anything outdoors for granted! Have you done this route? I'm planning to do it in September, it looks like alone at the moment!
Annie, I'm leaving home May 15 and heading towards SJPP. I have 6 weeks to make it to Santiago. I too am going solo, but I've already met some people here on the forum, via email, who are also going to be on the trail. I think that will make it a little easier. I am breaking up the first stage into two and staying at Orisson the first night. After that, I'm just going to take it as it comes. Buen Camino! Pennie
 

pippa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014 September.
Hi Annie, I am starting fron SJPDP on the 6th September, maybe I'll see you on the way. Buen Camino.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
....... Just don't take the forest track option towards the end. ....
Allan, .... just curious ... is there a particular reason you say not to take the forest track? Is it for the same reasons Olivares gives in the post after yours? From what I've read of that forest, it sounds quite interesting.
 
W

whariwharangi

Guest
Agree AnnieY- you will see Roncesvalles at a distance and that's when the descent will start getting a bit more steep. You will come to a point where you can go left towards a forrested area or right on an asphalted road much less steeper. It is marked with wooden posts. I recommend you go right. It may be a bit longer (400 meters longer to be exact) but the descent is more gradual and much "knee-hip friendlier". Also, the right option takes you by Ibañeta where there is a lovely chapel (Capilla de San Salvador) built on the spot where there was a medieval bell shed that used to rang after dark hours to guide pilgrims still in the mountains. These last 4 kms just take a deep breath, take your time and enjoy it. Buen Camino!
It was recommended by the pilgrim office to go right as suggested by Olivares. Brierley makes mention that the piece through the forest is somewhat steep and gets slippery if there has been any rain. Nothing indicates its dangerous though ... it just requires a bit more care at the end of a long day.

There were several people taking a rest at the junction. Some went the forest way and more including myself went the road way. The road switchbacks a lot but there are well defined foot paths shorting those loops. We got to the albergue quite a bit sooner than did anyone who went the forest way despite the distance being longer.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Allan, .... just curious ... is there a particular reason you say not to take the forest track? Is it for the same reasons Olivares gives in the post after yours? From what I've read of that forest, it sounds quite interesting.
Charlesx I've walked both. The forest track is lovely but steeper and slippery. The whole path is thickly coated with fallen leaves. When dry the leaves are slippery, when wet they can be even worse. Very hard on the knees and easy to slip and wrench something. So if your knees are a bit dodgy, or you have a heavy pack, or it's raining, or you are cautious not to be injured, take the gentler path down the road.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
I have also walked both ways... in snow and rain.
Actually, I don't see any real problem with the woods and I prefer it. I would not worry about going either way.
There are many other areas on the way to Santiago that are more challenging then this stretch.

I think we have made the Napoleon route into a undeserved legend that strikes fear in the hearts of first timers. :)

When you see the huge crowds of woefully unprepared people who make it over every day of the Spring and Summer, you will see that it can't really be that bad.
Tiring for the first day, but not a reason to fear..
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
http://www.diariodenavarra.es/noticias/navarra/mas_navarra/2014/05/15/una_peregrina_extranjera_herida_roncesvalles_tras_una_caida_159420_2061.html

A reminder for those who may think that all you have to be is prepared and fear nothing -- a 55 year old female pilgrim slipped 2 Kms from Roncesvalles at the (steeper) route and broke her arm. Posters who went by as the unfortunate pilgrim was been med evac by helicopter attested of the agony and pain she seemed to be under.

This is on the Napoleon Route, as you come out Collado Loepeder (you can see Roncesvalles at a distance) there is a wooden post sign with left or right. Left is steeper and rocky; right is less steep, some pavement, 400 meters longer. This may seem like a no brainer, but the day I walked the Camino most people took left. Too risky for the first day. You can prepared all you want, but accidents happen; no need to stack up the risk even more.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
One need not be in a treacherous area to run into trouble. Last year, just meters before Rabanal, on flat ground, a woman went by us at a tremendous clip. I had no idea at the time why she was in such a hurry (now I know she might have been racing to get a bed), but no sooner had she passed us that she missed her footing, went down hard, and broke her wrist. Sad to say, I believe that was the end of her Camino.
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016)
Thanks Pennie, have now watched it - I just wanted to get an idea on how rough those tracks are - felt a little more comfortable seeing that as Im used to scrambling around, and despite climbing experience I never take anything outdoors for granted!
If you're used to scrambling and backpacking, the forest route down to Roncesvalles is probably not an issue, unless the weather is inclement. If you're not used to scrambling, or it makes you feel more comfortable, take the road descent.

When I went, the pilgrim's office advised us to take the road because it had snowed two days earlier and the descent was very slippery. Although I have a lot of experience backpacking in very rough terrain in the Colorado Rockies, I took the road, in large part because I was very tired (hadn't eaten enough and was completely out of energy) and it's easy to get into trouble when tired (loss of dexterity, reduced strength and reaction speed). Over the next few days, I met a number of pilgrims with twisted knees, wrenched arms, bruises, etc., and stories of one pilgrim who broke a leg while taking the forest route.

The key thing is to know yourself and your limits, and be cognizant of the conditions. Also, if the pilgrim's office in SJPdP gives advice, probably good to listen to it.
 

rector

ONE HALF
Camino(s) past & future
SJ-Sdc MAY (2011)
SJ-Sdc MAY (2014)
Sar-Sdc Oct (2015)
Pon-Sdc Ju (2016)
SJ-Log (2018)
do you have any pictures of the ascent or descent leaving SJPP, just feeling slightly anxious!
Anne don't feel too anxious, the ascent from St Jean is indeed steep, but my 62 year old wife did it on Wednesday, she has a bad knee, and we are not expert walkers and she has just finished egg bacon chorizo and fries in Punto La Reina and seems non the worse for her ordeal.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
....Where exactly are these hazards on the Portugues ??.........Vicrev
I just saw your post for the first time today and will reply there are only a few place you share the path with speeding trucks and cars (still less than on the CF) but the absolute worse is a short stretch before arriving at Pedra Furada.
 

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