Over the Pyrenees in Portland

As part of our physical preparation for the Camino Robin and I decided to replicate the crossing of the Pyrenees from St. Jean (France) to Roncesvalles (Spain). As one learns more about the Camino concern seems to grow about that first day, or two, crossing the mountains into Spain. There are a great many posts on a variety of forums where others have recounted their struggles. We wondered just how bad this was going to be. The closest local hike we could find that fit the bill was the Larch Mountain Trail. We drove to the trailhead at Multnomah Falls Lodge, just east of Portland, and set out from there, in fine weather, at 9:30 one Saturday. We returned at 5:10 after a 14 mile hike that gained 4,000 feet in the first 6.8 miles. Surprisingly all went well. We were pretty much done at the end but we carried our Camino packs at 20# and 16# respectively and survived. No blisters, used the Pacer hiking poles (couldn’t have done it without them). I also will confirm that the downhill trip is the worst. It really does affect your knees. I will be looking for some kind of wrap or elastic bandage to help with that. Gorgeous hike through something that looks like a Lost World set. Paths that varied from cushy pine needles to sharp broken rock to boulder fields (yikes). Robin did great. No blisters, but she was a little sore the next morning. We now know we can do the mountain pass crossing from France into Spain (we have done it – sort of). At the end of the hike we celebrated with an icy cold beer at the lodge and then shuffled (did I mention the knees) out to the parking lot for the trip home and more celebrating. Great day.

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