Gernika to Bilbao
Distance: 23 miles
Total Ascent: 835 meters
Difficulty Level: 4
Calories Burned: 4,599
I admit it. I got drunk last night. Rip-roaring sauced. To the point where Andrew and I were jumping on the beds, dancing naked to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack at 10pm.
Why? You may ask. Let me tell you. Andrew and I walked 23 miles yesterday, and have totalled 80 miles and 10,000 feet of ascent over the past five days. Boom! Drop the mic.
And something strange happened yesterday. We woke up in Gernika and set our intention to make easy progress, to sing and dance, and to lighten our load, figuratively at least. And with that intention, we set off on our hike.
Andrew started by singing every Disney theme song he could think of. And we sang together. The hike wasn't any easier at first, but it was more fun. I still struggled with the ascents (the climbs are really tough on me), and I still cried once because I felt like I was holding Andrew back. But he reminded me that we aren't hiking alone. This is something we are doing together. And we need to learn a pace that works for both of us.
We made friends with a German woman named Kirstin, who has trekked the Camino twice before, and with a French woman named Maywhen, who was on day 28 of her trek. These two made us look so weak. But they both encouraged us that our bodies would start to feel much better after Day 10. They assured us that we'd love the big hikes after that.
I had been struggling all day with the tent that I was carrying as my front pack, so when we sat on the sidewalk to eat lunch, I decided to switch my packs, and to wear my food and electronics pack on my front and the tent on my back. I'm not sure if it was the switch, or the lunch, or a change in mindset (or maybe some combination therein), but I turned it around the second half of the day.
We were lucky to have a few kilometers of flat road to walk, but when it came time for our next climb, I pushed through. I kept pace with Andrew, without complaining, sweat like a hog, and finished. I have rarely ever been so proud of myself.
There was one moment when we were running low on water and I nearly overheated. I had to lay down on the ground while Andrew lifted my feet to get my blood flowing, but within a few feet, we met Martin, a local organic farmer who gave us two bottles of cold, fresh water.
And when I next scanned my body, my feet hurt, of course, but my back felt like a million bucks. It was the strangest sense of euphoria. I only hope I can keep it now that I found it.
And to celebrate our long hike, we decided to use one of our wedding gifts from Cheryl and Carlin Stamm, and booked a suite at the NH Collection Hotel in Bilbao. To say that we walked into heaven might be an understatement. They saw that we were on the Camino and upgraded us from a room to a suite. We walked in to find a gorgeous room, but more importantly, a bathtub large enough for the two of us! We poured ourselves a glass of wine, turned on our favorite tunes, and soaked for more than an hour, massaging feet along the way.
When we finally awoke from our bathtub trance, we went out for tapas and bubbles, danced on the beds, slept like babies, and then woke up this morning to a huge, delicious breakfast and a late checkout! What an amazing treat after such a long day!