Sunday, October 25, 2009

And God Created Goretex

It was a day to remember the 1967 Yale-Princeton football game. Same weather, only fewer drunks, and the walk was better than the game, which I don’t remember at all, just the sea of black umbrellas in the Yale Bowl. Setting off in a downpour today was not a challenge, thanks to the wonders of head-to-toe Goretex. But not even Goretex can solve the challenge of a flooded Camino.
That is a small lake in the picture. My effort to follow an alternative path around the water started by earlier pilgrims came to the same end for me as they encountered. The underbrush just became impenetrable after ten wet yards, so I backtracked to the Camino through the brambles, and forded the lake as best I could.
The rain went on for hours, but the fog gave way to more interesting clouds as we descended from the highest point on the Camino (1,504 meters). And eventually the rain stopped as we slipped and slid down steep muddy trails, and before we reached our destination in Ponferrada cracks of blue even came through the clouds.
I would only wonder as we walked how our young kiwi friends were doing. After inhaling dinner at our hotel last night, they set off to pitch their tent in a nearby grassy field. That must have been wet enough. But one of them has been walking for at least the past several days in a pair of tennis shoes where the right sole has separated from the top well over halfway back to the heel. This has forced him to develop a unique stride. With each step forward with his right foot, he has to give his toe an upward flick to prevent the sole from folding back under the heel, and then plant the foot before the sole flops back down. It’s not clear whether he hasn’t replace the shoes because he needs a size 12 or because he has no money. We contributed a roll of duct tape, but even with that today’s hike must have been on the far, far side of challenging.