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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

April 14

April 16th, 2016

April 14


I didn’t expect to be haunted by Hemingway on this trek, but he casts a long shadow in this region. There are even plaques marking the “HemingWAY.” A number of people started their hike today entirely too early. The auberges are unlike any hostel facility I’ve ever stayed in. Huge clean modern dormitories that efficiently accommodate large influxes of pilgrims– all stored like cord-wood for the evening, then turned out onto the trail the next morning. You cannot lounge in the morning, so I soon found myself walking in the dark of the dawn on my way first to Burguete, a place I have always wanted to visit. Hemingway’s Sun Also Rises details the bad behavior of a group of expatriates, first in Paris and then in Pamplona, but in the middle he offers up a remarkably beautiful pastoral interlude. Jake Barnes, the main character, and a friend go fishing in Burguete. I’m not a fisherman, but that chapter has always made me wish I were. So as the sun rose, I found myself walking into Berguete, hoping to find breakfast and a bit of Hemingway’s world. I walked past the first cafe, to my regret as it turned out to be the only one open, and in my search for coffee, I lost the way, putting in a couple of unnecessary kilometers until a fireman set me straight. Soon I was out in the countryside, still hungry and caffeine starved, but also crossing the trout streams described in the novel. A satisfying walk. The next village supplied a ham sandwich and remarkable coffee, and soon I was in Zubiri, the end point for many pilgrims day. I walked a good bit of the day with Patrick Cooley, a recent Te Araroa hiker, and we pushed on to Larrasoana where we found a whole crew at the Auberge San Nicola, including Michelle, a 2013 Appalachian Trail thru hiker who shares a number of hiker friends. The market next door was run by a Doors fan who insisted on giving his patrons a glass of local Rioja before selling us anything– and of course he had a glass as well. The rest of the evening was spent telling stories and drinking San Miguel– all suffered the next morning.

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