Today was always going to be tough – 30kms, without a town in between, with an aggregate climb of nearly 1km – and descent of not much less too.
A lot of steep hills and even stepper descents over a long stretch.
It’s a massive relief to have the van handy to pick up anyone who wants to “jump” a section. We use this term to mean jump some mileage – either start some kilometres into the walk, or when you get tuckered out jump to the nearest bar and have a bottle of Prosecco.
Today though all of us walked most of the way – and some of us walked all of the way.
And Elena was able to pick up some fresh Mozzarella, some fresh hams and bread, so that we could have a picnic about half way.
There were two very stiff climbs today – one of them being right towards the end. And then having arrived at our end stop – Pietrulunga – we discovered a couple of hundred thousand steps that climbed up and up to the main piazza.
Ivan, Peter and I headed straight to the nearest bar and ordered double Camparis and soda and ice. I’m not sure if that’s a girly drink or not, but it was refreshing, colourful, and alcoholic. It ticked all the boxes.
We all have been admiring the way Ivan the Terrible walks. He walks in a Nordic skiing way, and in fact Marie got private lessons from Ivan this morning before heading out.
His method involved loosening the shoulders, dropping the arms until they’re almost vertical, and having the poles reach way back. He says this gives him so much more power – because instead of tensing the upper body, the power comes through the wrists, using the straps on the poles to transfer the power.
I tried it and it works a treat. Very handy going up some of those steep mountains today.
It’s been a very demanding few days, and those that have impressed have been Angela Mitchell and Patty Talbot. They’ve been troopers. Nothing has daunted them. I’ve been amazed at some of the mountains they’ve climbed – ascents that have knackered me.
I expect Peter and Ken to be proficient – and Marie too because she is such an experienced pilgrim… And Ivan and Giovanna are very strong walkers from past Caminos.
Jennifer often surprises me. She tackles the steepest of inclines with equanimity. I think her relaxation helps her.
Together this is a very happy group. Most are past friends, although Patty arrived not knowing anyone, but almost immediately she slotted into our sense of humour, and it seemed like we’d all known her for years.
She brings a wonderful irreverent energy to any conversation or discussion – and she has a smile that lights up a room.
This evening we had a relaxed dinner at a local pizzeria. The pizzas were out of this world. Ivan at the end of the meal produced a bottle of Champagne styled wine from his local region, and we all drank a toast to what great people we all are!
Tomorrow Ivan and Giovanna leave us – they have to return to work – and we’ll all miss them immensely, because they have brought such a levity to this walk. Ivan is always making us laugh – and Giovanna is a quiet beautiful energy.
This is a hard walk – there’s no doubt – but we’re getting through it with an enormous sense of achievement, and we’re having a lot of fun along the way…
( internet lousy here at Pietrulunga. Will post more shots tomorrow.)