Adjusting my lens.
Back on Day 13, I marched west from Burgos eager to chew through the Camino’s tediously flat Meseta. Following 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 this 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.
Camino de Santiago Diary – Day 22
Unlike much of the previous week, my day’s journey only began once the hospitaleros kicked me out of Day 21’s paradisiacal premises after the 10 am checkout. I had grown accustomed to waking with the sparrows, but the arduous expedition over the last nine days had emptied my motivation reserves. I’d have gladly booked another day lazing by the pool in Villar de Mazarife if the Meseta’s western boundary wasn’t locked in my crosshairs.
Fortunately, over the day’s first five kilometres, the landscape’s previously colourless countryside flickered iridescently. Sprinklers peppered the region’s now-green agriculture, vibrant wildflowers decorated the roadside and fields of sunflowers glistened gold. Even the skyline appeared livelier with the distant Montes de León range now rippling through the heat haze.
While some pilgrims may be daunted by the sight of massing mountains (and the acute awareness they will need to be summited), I felt an unusual sense of relief. Inspired by the trail’s forthcoming 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 reinvigorated. Not even the sun’s oppressive heat could deter my newfound (and frankly overdue) outlook.
The route’s refreshed vegetation and long list of village highlights, including crossing the medieval Puente del Paso Honroso bridge into Hospital de Órbigo, sustained my 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 trail’s terrain billowed. It was immediately apparent that my legs were not prepared for Galicia’s imminent inclines; though, my mind was ready for anything but flat surfaces. After 220 kilometres 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.