Upon cracking an eye open this morning Robin quickly checked the weather. As luck would have it the forecast pushed the start of rain back til noon. That was all the encouragement we needed to get our act together and get out the door. Our host Jose was a no show for breakfast so we left our key and boogied out the door. We hoofed our way out of Almadén de la Plata with no food, and, most importantly, no coffee. There was a cost to this recklessness to be paid later on.
For now we accelerated under cloudy but dry conditions enjoying every kilometer sans umbrellas. We continued on through the beautiful Parque Natural Sierra Norte with its well prepared walking paths. We enjoyed our first of many of today’s encounters with grazing “black pigs.” The grazing areas are almost park like. They look almost landscaped. All you see are oak trees (the pigs eat the acorns) and grass in between the widely spaced trees. There is no scrub brush growth at all. Just acres of stand alone trees with pigs grazing underneath. Very bucolic. Our walk today was only 9 miles. This is very short by most camino standards. We thought this would be just another “walk in the park.” Well let’s see.
Onward we went enjoying the scenery and our new curious animal friends. We had up close encounters with sheep, goats (he wanted to eat my glove), and pigs (including a youthful wild boar) throughout most of the day. The attached photos will fill in the blanks. It was great fun. Towards the end of this stage there is one final hill to top. It was steep but reasonably short. Cresting this hill we faced a downslope path to a flat road that would carry us the last 4.6 kms into El Real. Upon reaching this road it became apparent our gas tanks were just about empty. Now we came to realize that starting out without breakfast was not a good strategy. We were definitely slowing down and craving food. It had been a vigorous walk with enough ups and downs to keep things interesting.
Oh, BTW we did experience a first on this stage. We had to cross a small creek that offered no easy way across. I opted for a rock hopping path that only allowed the water to reach my ankles. Robin opted for the barefoot approach and safe to say all ended well. Neither of us had ever before peeled off our boots to cross a stream. A new Camino first. We arrived in El Real and made a beeline to a restaurant we had enjoyed before. After a satisfying meal we hopped a taxi to our hotel, 8 kms before Monesterio. We now have redecorated our room with a web of clotheslines so that our in room laundry service can dry. Today was a great but tiring day for a couple of aging pilgrims. Let’s see what we can get up to tomorrow. All is well.
Early on leaving Almadén
Some of the neighbors dropped by
He was ready for his close up
Notice my poise with a reluctant subject
This mini boar seemed to be adopted
First view El Real de la Jara