We knew today would be one of the most difficult days, and would include a downhill track for around 15 kilometers. I do not like to walk downhill as my knees are not happy with the impacts, so it was always going to be a really long and difficult day.
We started with a great breakfast, and the first stop was the Cruz de Ferro – The Iron Cross. It was a special place for me and I was looking forward to seeing it. My angel who helped me to training for this walk, Cynthia, had given me a stone, and today was the requested time to leave it at this point of our way.
This Cruz has been here from centuries and it is believed that every pilgrim should leave a stone here and the stone should have been brought from the original country of the pilgrim. To arrive and see this big mountain of stones around the post which has the cross of iron on top was incredible. I could not imagine the amount of people who have stopped here to leave a stone. There were stones, photos, flowers, pieces of material, letters, messages on the stones, … special gifts that people have left for the Way and the universe.
We arrived in the dark at this place and waited until the sun came up. There were many of us there, looking how each of us climbed up, left their stone, appreciated the energy of this place, and took a photo. It was a touching moment for many of us because most of us have walked more than 500 kilometers to see this place, to feel the energy, to see what the pilgrims have created from years and years of visits.
After this beautiful hill of stones, we arrived at a tiny village on the top of the mountain and we met a famous person from the Way. When a pilgrim is arriving to his albergue, he rings a bell as a welcoming to his place. Inside the little house it is really rustic, with a fire place as the only heating and everything is made of wood and stone. This old man stays in this place all winter, and it must be freezing but he stays here to give something, whether it is coffee or a bed to the few walkers in winter.
After this cozy place our way downhill started. The views of the mountains, and the approaching towns were beautiful from the summit, but the way down was absolutely murder. The 15 kilometers took us around 5 hours, half of the way on the road and another half on the stone paths. After this we still had another ten kilometers to walk to reach Ponferrada, so it seemed like forever. My feet were sore when we finally reached our destination. The day was also cold, windy and the rain was with us for a couple of kilometers.
A long day but one of the most difficult stages done!!!!