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  • Day35

    Climbing lightly

    June 6, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    If you'd told me beforehand that one of my favorite days on the Camino would involve a 2,000 foot climb, I'd have said you were delusional. And yet...

    After leaving Ponferrado I passed through El Bierzo, another of Spain's wine-growing regions. While La Rioja may produce the most famous wines, the landscape I saw here beats it hands down.

    I walked for three days alongside cold clear rivers, and up and down dramatic green ridges draped in zigzagging vineyards and fields.

    But O Cebreiro was always on my mind. I knew it would be the biggest climb since the Pyrenees. I didn't know just how much stronger I'd become in the past month.

    I started my climb on a crisp sunny morning. The first half was the steepest, but I climbed loose and strong, lifted by forests and grasses, and by air freshly scrubbed by a storm the night before. The slope lessened over the second half and the vista opened up, providing sweeping 40-mile views back to the east.

    When I entered O Cebreiro around noon, I was elated and surrounded by Celtic music; more than ready to enjoy lunch and a beer with two Italian friends I just met.

    This was a magic day, and a great lesson in learning to trust my strength more than my fear.
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