Adjusting my lens.
What seemed like a lifetime ago back on Day 13, I marched out of Burgos eager to chew through the Camino’s challenging Meseta. After a week and a half of unrelenting wheat, the trail had masticated me into a fine paste, and I was ready for it to spit me out in Astorga. The end of the Camino’s character-defining stretch was nigh, and with increasing spits of forest covering the landscape on Day 22, a much-needed change was on the horizon. The world suddenly seemed brighter.
Camino de Santiago Diary – Day 22
Unlike my entire last week, the day’s walk began only once the Albergue’s hospitaleros had kicked me off Day 21’s paradisiacal premises at 10 am. I had grown accustomed to awaking with the sparrows, but the arduous expedition from Burgos had taken nine tiresome days and emptied my motivation reserves. I’d have gladly booked in another day lazing by the pool in Villar de Mazarife if the end of the Meseta wasn’t already locked in my crosshairs.
Fortunately, over the next 10 kilometres, the landscape’s previously colourless countryside flickered iridescently; sprinklers peppered the region’s now-green agriculture, vibrant wildflowers popped up beside the path and the roadside fields of sunflowers glistened gold. Even the skyline had expanded with the distant Montes de León range now rippling through the day’s heat haze.
While some pilgrims may rightly be daunted by the sight of massing mountains in the distance (and the acute awareness they will need to clamber over them), I felt an unusual sense of relief. Inspired by the trail’s upcoming new chapter, an overriding sense of accomplishment for what had been, and an ambition for what was to come, propelled me forward. Every step now felt invigorated. Not even the sun’s oppressive heat could deter my newfound (and quite frankly overdue) outlook.
The route’s renewed vegetation and long list of pilgrim village highlights, including crossing the medieval Puente del Paso Honroso bridge into Hospital de Órbigo, maintained the day’s energy.
Puente del Paso Honroso (or bridge of the honourable passage) is named in tribute of a battle Leonés knight Don Suero de Quiñones fought out of love in 1434. A medieval jousting festival, declared to be of national tourist interest, is now celebrated here.
The final ten-kilometre stretch into Astorga induced a kind of twisted joy. For the first time since Day 14’s scramble up Alto de Mostelares, the terrain beneath my feet billowed. It was immediately apparent that my legs were not prepared for the Galicia’s imminent inclines. However, my mind was ready for anything but flat surfaces. After 220 km of level wheat, there was no doubt my mind would win the battle for my attention on Day 23.
All the details.
Trail distance covered
Albergue de peregrinos Siervas de María
Finally some slopes! A sign of things to come.