Day 2: Valcarlos to Roncesvalles

Today we walked 7.7 miles (12.4 km).

I am a robot. I am a machine! Up the mountain! Ultreia! Forward!

Today was tough but satisfying, mostly up a never-ending steep slope. It started off fairly easy with a brisk 48 degrees F (9 C) and more walking next to a main road. That changed to a muddy track of dirt and rocks, as we followed a river for a while. Then another stretch along the road, and then back onto a dirt path. That’s when the fun began, as we went up, up, and up. Then it changed to up, up, and up in the cold rain, and finally up, up, and up in the cold rain and lots of mud. That lasted until I was sure we were going to see Jack and his beanstalk, and finally we made it to Roncesvalles after 3 hours and 45 minutes. Since we were in SJPdP two days ago, we’ve had 2667 feet (813 m) of ascent.

Go this way…

Not this way. :-)

Creepy super-scarecrow:


Basque language:








Up we go…




Finally, the top:


Mercifully, the main albergue is the first thing you see as you arrive. It’s ultra-modern and opened just two years ago in 2011. It has 183 beds on three floors, but they’re grouped into 4-bed cubicles — kind of like sleeper rooms on a train, minus the doors. So it’s definitely better than the old albergue and its 100 beds in one giant room (which, BTW, was shown in the movie The Way, when Martin Sheen’s character spent his first night on the Camino).




We checked in, got lunch, and had the best hot showers of our lives.

Posted from Roncesvalles, Navarre, Spain:

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3 thoughts on “Day 2: Valcarlos to Roncesvalles

  1. Basque is a mysterious language to me. I think I remember that a professor told me that hardly anyone can learn it after childhood. i.e. People learn it from being immersed as a baby, not by studying it as a second language.

  2. It seems from your photographs that you need a sleeping bag at each of the hostels? As I plan to travel light I am looking to pack as little as possible, but feel that this might be essential. I would appreciate your thoughts.

  3. Jacqui:
    Roncesvalles was a bit special in that it’s a very modern albergue but doesn’t have anything other than a mattress. Many albergues have a sheet, pillow, and blanket, although I’ve read that you sometimes have to ask for the blanket if they don’t have enough for all the beds. This is a hotly debated topic, but we liked having our sleeping bags and will use them again next year when we finish our Camino. At the end of a long day, it was nice crawling into our own bedding. We had a few cool nights even in early June, but if you were going in the middle of summer it’d probably be easier to live without it — especially if you didn’t mind using the provided bedding.

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