July 17, 2008

Day 46: 29 May- SJPP to Orisson

After experiencing so many wet, rainy days as we approached the Pyrenees, I guess I was expecting more of the same for the crossing over the pass. But when I opened the curtains this morning in the gite, my heart leaped when I saw there was sunshine and clear skies over the mountains! I was just going as far as the gite at Orisson for the night, and as I began on the steep road out of SJPP, I was glad I had opted for the shorter distance...I was very happy to find that the weather was suitable for taking the high route, the Route de Napoleon.
I was also pleased to find that I was quite fit, so I found the climb much easier than I had imagined. The steepest parts were the initial climb out of SJPP, then at the 4km to Orisson sign.
But there were even some flat and downhill sections! And I had been walking long enough to know to just take it at my own pace.It seemed that in no time at all I had reached this Orisson sign, and the climb so far had been no where near as hard as I had expected..... It turned out that the whole of the walk up to Orisson was on a very quiet sealed road..... And of course, the weather was fine but not hot, which made it all more straightforward...
The views became more and more splendid as I climbed.
And up near the end of the morning's walk, there were eagles to watch, majestic birds soaring high, and moving quickly through the skies when they chose.

The walking crowd today was a different breed, younger and more international. I was pleased to be able to stop and share the experience of watching the eagles soar with a young Spaniard.

There were also farm animals to share the route with
up here in the mountains for the summer months.
And all too quickly the morning's walk was ended. I came around a corner, and there was Orisson. The guide sheet said 'two and a half' hours climb to Orisson. I am "slow" and expected to take much longer. But even after taking time to watch the eagles and the cows, I walked into the bar at Orisson just two and three quarter hours after beginning, not at all tired. So my weeks of walking had led to improved fitness.
There was plenty of time to enjoy the views during what amounted to another 'rest day' at Orisson.
And that evening there was one of the most treasured moments of my Camino. A huge rainbow, with a hint of a 'double', spread itself right across the sky in front of the mountains. This was the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen in my life. This photograph could only capture one side. I couldn't capture on camera the magnificent view I was having the joy of seeing with my eyes, but the joy is stored in my memory.
There was a Canadian father and daughter here who had arrived at SJPP the previous evening to begin their Camino: what a special shared experience this was for them.


  1. I too had the pleasure of a beautiful rainbow in Orisson. It was my first day on my Camino and I was so grateful for that rainbow as it represented an amazing beginning. I am loving your stories and especially the photos. I must do this Camino some day. Thank youfor sharing

  2. Hi Lillian Alicia
    Thanks for your comment. The rainbow at Orisson will remain one of my most special memories from the whole walk.

  3. Hiya!

    There is always a double rainbow, except that the sun is often not bright enough to make it really clear. The two rainbows are mirror images of each other and there is a darker band between them called Alexander's Dark Band. Apart from the colours of the rainbow there are also pink and grew stripes. Those are VERY hard to see....

    Orrison is a new enough refuge that I have never been able to stay there. Like most people who walked the camino in the earlier part of the decade, we walked all the way from SJPDP to Roncesvalles but it was definitely a VERY hard walk and I am glad there is a stop part of the way now as so many got into trouble due to lack o fitness and the weather etc.

    I know quite a few that have stayed at Huntto however. Does anyone ever stay there now?

  4. Hi Caroline,
    Yes, People definitely do stay at Huntto. I met a French couple in the latter stages of the Le Puy walk who did just that. They stayed one night in SJPP, then had a 'rest morning' when they visited the PO etc, before climbing as far as Huntto in the afternoon. It shortened the next day's walk for them a little.
    Staying at SJPP for a rest day, then just going as far as Orisson, was almost like having two rest days. Although it was steep in places to Orisson, I was quite fit by that stage of my walk. However, even then, I found the next day from Orisson to Roncesvalles quite tiring!