The first day walking the Camino Francis, one of the popular routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, involves walking through the Pyrenees Mountains. St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles 24km, and is said to take 7 to 9 hours. We have made this trip twice now, our first days were both days were were at least 8 hours on the road.
During the day we climbed from St Jean Pied de Port at 200 metres above sea level to just above 1,400 meters then descend steeply back down again into Roncesvalles at 900 metres, which can be hard going on your knees and shins. Pack a lunch, while there is often a coffee truck on the road the options for food and water are limited.
More photos from the Camino, we arrived at the foot of this small statue, the Vierge d’Orrison, shortly after leaving Orisson, as the sun was just starting to lighten the sky. It was an amazing sight, as the clouds and fog filled the valleys. I could find very little information on its history, however, it is said that the statue was brought from Lourdes and placed on this high rock by the sheepherders, and to this day they pray to be watched over and for good weather. Today the pilgrims on their Camino stop, many take a few moments in silent prayer, many just take a picture and move on. I climbed the high rock to stand by the statue for this image.
The day was off to a beautiful day and we wondered how any other day would be able to compare. But each day we were up early and most days on the road just before sunrise. I have since come to realize that the beginning of each day is a quiet and beautiful time, that it is possible I have been missing the best part of the day, and I need to get out of the house to witness more sunrises!
We are home now, after 7 weeks on the road and it is time to sort, keyword, and process the many photos taken during our time on the Camino route from Saint Jean Pied de Port France to Santiago de Compostella Spain. As we left Orisson the sun was just coming up, and as we walked towards Roncesvalles one of our fellow travelers that day commented that at the rate I was going I would never make it. Stopping as often as I did for one more picture, I was not making fast time on the road. Here the beautiful pony was standing watching the pilgrims pass by.
During October 2012 17,790 pilgrims were received in the Pilgrim’s office in Santiago Spain. Bill and I were among the 20.26% who traveled from St. Jean Pied de Port France, and two of the 631 Canadians to completed the Camino. The Pilgrim’s office provides up to date statistics and you might find it interesting to see the who is traveling the Camino.
It is going to be both challenging and interesting to go back through the many photos and notes taken during our walk and hopefully build a complete portfolio. For this images, I processed in Nik Silver Effects Pro 2, then reducing the opacity of the layer by 15% I was able to bring in just a hint of the color that was in the original images. I think it adds a bit of depth, let me know what you think.
We are going to St. Jean Pied de Port in the south of France to begin The Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known in English as The Way of St James. A walk of approximately 800 Kilometers, there are some various in the route, so the actual distance varies.
For the modern pilgrim or traveller the camino seems to start at one of the many pilgrimage offices along the route, and while many routes have been regaining popularity the “French Way” beginning at St. Jean Pied de Port is the most famous and most popular. there is plenty of written material, guides, maps, and stories available to acquaint yourself of the route.
In medieval times a camino or pilgrimage began the moment a person left home, often there was a formal send off from the town square. Our journey also began at home, many months before we left home. Once the decision was made to walk the camino de Santiago de Compostella, we had to decide on the route. Books, blogs, and internet discussion forums were read, information gathered. We decided that since this was our first camino we would take the road most travelled, the French route from St. Jean Pied de Port. through the Pyrenees, Pamplona, Burgos, Leon.
We researched and purchased backpacks, walking shoes, sleeping backs, and rain gear. We read about packing lists, training guidelines, and bedbugs. We reviewed flickr and goggle images to see the places we would travel through. We read about the legends, architecture and the weather. There was so much to learn. Bill and I are planners, learning everything we can before we go.
We set up a training schedule, one that is necessary for getting use to the weight of the backpack and breaking in our new boots. Unfortunately life gets in the way, our training did not go as planned and we did not get the training we had hoped for. That does not deter us, we are heading out anyway!
As a photographer I couldn’t image taking this trip without my camera, a couple of lenses and of course a tripod. I needed to find out if I could process and blog as we travelled, or purchase enough storage to keep all the images until I got home. I decide to carry a small laptop and portable hard drive so I could at least store my images, and if possible continue with my blogging when time, energy and internet would allow. With that decision we added to the packing list; battery charges, cords, and power transformers.
We had read that our pack should not be anymore than 10% of our body weight to be comfortable and safe over a long distance, we kept checking the weight of our pack. We are close, maybe a little heavier than they should be, but close.
We need travel arrangements from Calgary to St. Jean Pied de Port, and then home again. A flight from Calgary to Toronto, Toronto to Paris, train to Biarritz France where we will overnight. The a train to St Jean Pied de Port, where we will start the walk.
We leave home today. The time for training is over, and while the backpack feels good, and the shoes are broken in. We are looking forward to the adventure. I am sure there will be days that will be harder than we expected, I am also sure there will lots of wonderful moments, beautiful towns and interesting people along the way. I am sure there will be great stories to share, we will try to blog as we go and we hope you will join us as we travel.
Below is a list of some great sites for information, maps and guides: