La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Étape 38: Burgos - Castrojeriz, 36 kms; Snow, Sun, Winds, 0-5

A Jump Ahead

As mentioned yesterday I decided to take a taxi just out of Burgos (sorry Rob, no taxi photo) where I could pick up the Camino and miss the urban portion of today’s stage. This proved to be a good decision as I was able to catch-up and meet some new people which of course is part of the idea with this special purpose Camino. 

Any peregrinos that had stayed in the first three towns I passed through were long gone by the time I passed by and reached Rabé de las Calzadas. However the sun popped out and this seemed to help a little with a -5 windchill in effect. I changed up my clothes again a little this morning with light gortex head to foot which provided me a hood and better protection from the stiff winds that were projected to gust to 44. They did. I also added my long sleeve shirt over my cycling sleeves and ultra light shirt as my arms were cold yesterday. Worked wonderfully and I was warm all day with my vest on as well.

Initially the snow came in with the squall cloud lines and it came down pretty nicely at some points swirling with the winds. I stopped to reluctantly put my pack cover on as I wasn’t sure if it would change to rain. I say reluctantly as it was the third day in a row that I was forced to, thereby covering my Alzheimer’s Awareness sign. 

A polite Spanish cyclist passed carefully by and we chatted for a moment before he continued. 

The sun continued to offer promise as I progressed up a long valley, but I could see the snow flying just ahead. I learned long ago that all you can do is walk and trust that everything will work out. It usually does and today was no different.

Except for a few light flurries, there was really no further threat and in fact it turned in a magnificent day of walking! 

Well except for this moment when it looked like I was going to get hammered.

However, the clouds seemed to part for me and I sort of slipped through in a protective bubble. Pretty much before I was ready I spotted Hornillos in the valley below. 

In 2013 we walked here in a massive rain storm as did Ken and we were all soaked at the end of the day. Fortunately we stayed at a Casa Rural that I’d read about called El Molino del Camino which it turned out is where most of the movie The Way was filmed in 2010 and is owned by the now family of Emilio Estivan as his son married their daughter. That night was one of our special Camino memories with wonderful company, excellent food and a big fire place to dry all our boots and gear. Hornillos has a bad rep amoung walkers, but I’m pleased to report that there are now at least 3 places to stay, instead of one. While they have added some flowers, I was still happy to walk through.

On the way out of town I caught up with the first peregrino of the day, a very nice woman from Holland...aren’t they all nice?  She was carrying a humongous pack and told me that she was taking a short day because her body was very tired. I could understand this.

It was a long walk out of the valley. I’d forgotten that. Once out of the valley and up top I found a beauty that is so often found on the Meseta. I’ve heard many people advise others to skip the “boring” Meseta, but to my mind if the weather is ok it’s quite a magical place to walk.

Why would you want to miss this?

The emergency search and rescue were out today patrolling the Camino. Nice to see with the weather being so unpredictable and cold. I saw them twice today and they checked in with me and waved.

Hontanas is always a surprise. Walking along with your mind drifting and then seemingly out of nowhere it seems to jump out. It’s just there.

It’s a nice town with a beautiful little church and I decided to stop for a quick lunch though I’d had a really solid breakfast. I figured that there would be no further precipitation so I removed my pack cover and to my surprise and pleasure the result was really nice. There was a group of older towns folk sitting together and I guess they saw my pack as I walked into the church. When I came out they were saying some really nice things to me in Spanish and also a very nice person from France, who turned out to be named Benne, also made some supportive comments. A very nice moment! Bennie and I walked on to Castrojeriz together and she provided excellent company for the rest of the stage. She has been on the road for a very long time having started in Le Puy in early September. She lost her grandfather to Alzheimer’s and was very interested in our Camino. Our conversations were a very nice diversion from a long day. This is arriving at the Convento de San Anton where I last visited with Dave and Peter. 

We were joined there by Averal (I hope I have that right?) from Ireland who started her walk in Logroño probably a day before Annemarie and I reached there. Strangely I couldn’t remember where Paul’s parents live in Ireland while we were walking and talking. I must be wearing down! It’s of course Buncrana. Averal shared with me about her grandmother who also has Alzheimer’s. I don’t think I’ve met very many people on this Camino who haven’t been touched in some way by this disease. 

This is Averal walking ahead as we neared Castrojeriz. Annemarie and I camped in a small trailer just behind the church last time during a night of wicked lightening and fireworks. Still quite a memory as I again stop here. Oh, and there were no takers for the climb up to the fort either!

We were joined by a fellow from LA, and I didn’t get his name, but of course everyone was on their phone tey8ng to figure out where their accommodation was located. I was doing it too:)

Halloween is getting closer. Two days away! I’ll miss Ben in his costume this year.

The four peregrinos who each allowed me to put this photo into the blog today. Thanks! 

During the walk today I met and spoke with a peregrino who I will not name in the interest of privacy. She/he confided in me that they were concerned about eventually having Alzheimer’s as memory issues have already started. After a number of consultations with doctors this person has been instructed to take up more activities that it is hoped will delay the onset of the disease. This includes more exercising (walking Camino qualifies) to help clear the brain cells, more brain centric activities such as learning another language, reading more and learning other new skills. This person is pretty certain that Alzheimer’s is in their future, but with behavioural changes it is hoped that onset will be delayed for as long as possible. A difficult future possibly lies ahead, but I was impressed with his/her understanding and efforts to deal with an unexpected life change. A very brave person facing an uncertain future.

A personally very special day tomorrow. I hope the weather holds as I plan to walk onwards to Poblacion de Campos, 30 kms on down the Camino. I hope I’m lucky enough to meet as many interesting people tomorrow!

Buen Camino


  1. Great walk today despite the earlier indications of challenging weather! Your back pack must have been pretty light as most of your gear was somewhere on your body to ward off the icy wind gusts but I guess a lighter pack is not an indication that body weight has been restored ......... But it was good that your extra gear provided comfortable warmth for your walk today - your mother was very pleased! Also, 33 kms must be just about one of your longest walks ever - your Dad was impressed with that! The route and the country side you passed through today looks so much like the prairie landscape near Lethbridge and bordering along the foothills leading to the Crows Nest Pass - including the westerly winds and snow flurries! Very nice that you met a few compatible trekkers along the way and were able to share your Alzheimer Journey with them.

    Carry on - keep your head down and back to the wind (if possible).


  2. Hi Geoff

    Sadly none of the photos early on in this blog would download on my machine. Enjoyed the later ones though. It sounds like a great day, or as the Monty Python crew would describe it - 'cruel but fair'.