And so we begin…St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles 25.1 km

The starting point for the Camino Frances is the medieval town of St. Jean Pied de Port. Our first night was at the aubergue Le Chemin Vers L’Etoile; the owner an ex-Parisian that walked the Camino 9 years ago offered his sage advice, “the Camino will provide what you need but maybe not what you want”. This was a bit of foreshadowing for our overnight in his 500 year old peregrinos hostel. 


For 18 euro, we got a hot shower (John’s was cold), a bunk room with 12 other pilgrims, and a piece of French bread and jam for breakfast.  

Starting at around 4:30 am, some of our fellow pilgrims thought getting an early start was a good idea and starting digging through their packs and clomping around in their boots at that ridiculously premature hour. So John and I rolled out of bed at 5:00, and hit the pavement by 7:00 am; it was still dark outside. We were excited to finally be on our way … until we started up hill. 

Today was a classic Douglas “death march”. Over the years, our family has been involved in a number of death marches, hikes or walks driven by some unwavering need to get there. No one can fall behind; no matter the distance, the heat, the cold, the elevation, the blisters. Today was such a day. The climb was 3,000′ elevation gain over a total distance of 24.8 kilometers or 15.4 miles. The hike is said to have lovely views of the Pyrenees but today was cold (upper40’s), and windy, and rainy. Ten long hours after we started, we walked into Roncesvalles, our stop for the night. 

Despite the tribulations of weather, the hike was awesome. We chatted with fellow pilgrims from Canada, Germany, Japan, England, and Wisconsin (not actually a country) and everyone had a story and a smile. 

We saw herds of Basque mountain horses and long wooled Latxa sheep. The mist rolled across the desolate highlands and occasionally the distant villages peaked out of the fog. An amazing first day. -K

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8 Responses to And so we begin…St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles 25.1 km

  1. Mimi Donnelly says:

    love hearing about your journey!

  2. Steve J Noufer says:

    You didn’t want sunny weather, did you?

  3. Sandie Moss says:

    You do make it sound good. Hope you had a good night to recover. Now it should be easy Street.

  4. winewoodln says:

    Congratulations on the completion of your first day. It sounds wonderful. I’m proud of you guys and a bit jealous. Now the longest hardest day is behind you. It’s snowing here in Yellowstone but we are warm and toasty in our camper van. Buen Camino.

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