Total distance today (yesterday) : 43.1km
Total distance remaining: 326.6km
Yesterday was a long day. Very long. In fact, I don't think that 'long' really does justice to what sort of day it really was. I'll try to explain..
The first leg yesterday was relatively normal. We had stayed in a small village called hermanillos de la calzada so we could walk along another long stretch of roman road. This lonely 17.5km stretch considered the best example in Spain. The morning started well, and soon were were on the track. Unfortunately, around 20 min on the historic track, we came across a detour sign blocking our path and directing us on to the highway route (which we were trying to avoid). It seemed that we had wasted some decent daylight hours the day before for not pushing on!
So the rest of the walk went by reasonably fast, and we arrived at our next destination mansilla de las mulas around 12:30pm (24.5km). A cool little town with lots going on. We walked into a farmers market when we entered the main square! As the day was still young and the next days stage was a mere 18.6km, we decided that we were crazy not to push on and arrive a day early at our rest town of leon.
We got some bread in town and sat on the river bank to have a hearty peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch before setting off for leon. Now, both our guide books had warned us that the trek to leon was all along busy highways and best avoided by taking the bus, but were we detered? No! The fist hour after lunch was easy. Although nothing to look at but traffic, the walk was easy along the side of the road. We hit a village and got a little pastry treat from a small bakery and pushed on.
Now, weather it was the heat of the day (around 30 deg celcius) or of it was the hard roads on the feet, but everything got a hell of a lot harder! Blisters started appearing, old wounds flared up, and it seemed no amount of rest or treatment made them feel better. The only thing we could do was push on.
When we hit the outskirts of leon, there was one last hill to tackle which seemed never ending. The arrows took us from the main highway (which seemed to skirt around the hill i may add) up a smaller road to the very top of this hill and past a radio tower. Just when I thought we couldn't go any further out of way, the decent was down a rough dirt track that seemed to take us back to the highway, about 500 metres from where we turned off. Not happy. Still, at this point we could see the finish line a mere 2km away, so a quick break and an orange for some last minute energy and we were off. We got to our refugio by around 7:30pm, more than 12 hours after we had set off. A shower, a sandwich, a quick limp around town and then even the loudest chorus of snoring couldn't wake me (well, at least not until 3am this mornig!)
Today we checked into a very nice hotel, had a real shower, saw the sites of the city, and now intend to hit the bars for some tapas then a proper nights sleep in a real bed! Tomorrow, we are alreay planning to squeeze one and a half days into one!!