Hiking across northern Spain on the Camino del Norte and the Gran Recorrido

Hiking across northern Spain on the Camino del Norte and the Gran Recorrido

Hondarribia, Part 1

My tent on a beautiful evening at the Faro de Higuer campground, Hondarribia

My tent on a beautiful evening at the Faro de Higer campground, Hondarribia

Just a few days before arriving in Hondarribia, I had told a friend that part of the reason I was on this journey, and the Camino del Norte in winter, was to experience the challenge of cold and hard weather. So it was only appropriate that on my first night in my tent, at the beautiful campsite Faro de Higer, I was hit by forty-mile-an-hour winds (my conservative estimate!) and driving rain, in the early hours of the morning, while I was sleeping.

I’ll summarize the course of events by listing my mistakes: 1) I skipped both breakfast and lunch on the day of arrival in favor of getting to the campground and setting up my tent, trusting that I’d be able to find dinner up at the campground, which I knew had a restaurant, or that I’d have time to hike the twenty minutes into town, neither of which was possible. Instead, I cooked on my homemade Pepsi-G stove, which worked fabulously (thanks Jinky and Meg!), ate the small portion of quinoa, and became very drowsy. 2) I fell asleep at 7:45 pm and slept so soundly that when I woke up at 9:30 pm, I felt like I had slept all night and couldn’t fall back to sleep until 1 or 2 in the morning. Then I slept so deeply again that I didn’t notice the wind and rain increasing in intensity. The storm continued, and I eventually noticed that my pack, squeezed beside me in the tent, was wet. I shifted things around and went back to sleep. After a while I woke and realized that the  wind and rain had died down. 3) Against all instincts, I discarded the voice in my head that said that, since the wind had already uprooted the tent stakes tree times, it might be a good idea to move to a more sheltered area, while the weather was fair, in case it picked up again. 4) I did not heed the advice of the caretaker in the first place, who noted, upon my arrival, that while the view would be nice out on the open lawn, I might prefer to pitch the tent among the trees to the side, since they would give more shelter in case of a storm, since one never knew what the weather would do.

The view of the Cantabrian Sea from the campsite during the storm

Suddenly, the wind shifted and came whipping in off the water from the northwest at about 40 miles per hour. The windward stake was yanked out of the ground, and the tent collapsed on top of me. With the corner of the tent flapping all over, rain sprayed in through the mesh between the tent wall and floor. I lunged toward the free corner, still half in my sleeping bag, and held the corner down to the ground with one hand while attempting to move my objects into the center of the tent with the other. This failed to keep anything dry, and I realized I had no recourse but to get out and move the tent between the trees. Fumbling around with my one free hand (since the other was holding down the corner of the tent), I managed to extract my poncho from the pack and get it over my head and shoulders, but by that time it would have been just as well to let the tent fly around and put the poncho on with both hands, since all corners of the tent were filled with large puddles.

When I finally got all my belongings over to the trees, and my tent was set up in a mud pit, a campground employee came over and offered me a room. With a tent site costing 11 euros and 60 cents and a room at 10 euros, I decided to stay another night, hang everything up, and wait for everything to dry before starting the hike.

In the end, I got a taste of the hard weather I had wished for, so I guess I can’t complain!

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5 years ago 3 Comments Short URL
Dan

Author: Dan

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3 Comments

  1. Carmenchu says:

    Really interesting and amazing! You are a real Quixote. How can I follow your blog? I cannot find the click to subscribe in order to read all your uploads. Have a nice trip, and don’t forget Machado: Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.

    • Dan Dan says:

      Thanks Carmenchu! The RSS feed was broken, but it’s fixed now. If you click on that (and have an RSS reader), you should get all the updates!
      Thanks for following, and for the quote! I have been thinking about that idea a lot as I walk each day!

  2. Carmenchu says:

    Caminante, son tus huellas
    el camino y nada más;
    Caminante, no hay camino,
    se hace camino al andar.
    Al andar se hace el camino,
    y al volver la vista atrás
    se ve la senda que nunca
    se ha de volver a pisar.
    Caminante no hay camino
    sino estelas en la mar.

    http://youtu.be/DgRKsugXo3E

    Lee todo en: Caminante no hay camino – Poemas de Antonio Machado http://www.poemas-del-alma.com/antonio-machado-caminante-no-hay-camino.htm#ixzz2JDXxNqSo

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