On the second day of our walk we woke up to blue skies and wet ground. It seemed yet again the forecast rain had been and gone, and we were confidently clad in short sleeved tops under fleece and padded jackets, ready to peel off the layers as the day warmed up.
After a couple of cafés con leche and some tostada, we got up to leave. Opened the door. Hm. Sunny, but cool. And what was that stuff in the air …? Oh, fine rain. Nothing to worry about. Only it turned into tiny snowflakes. Which turned into bigger ones. As we trudged up the Rabanal hill, it was actually snowing, but it was pretty and white and harmless.
After we had left town it got heavier. And the wind got stronger. And it got colder. At times we could hardly see anything in front of us because we had the wind against us and the snow slapped us in the face. I had snow-capped toe-caps, Scouse Spouse had icicles in his hair. It wasn’t pretty anymore, and I started wondering if it was even harmless. And I’m Norwegian, so it’s not like I’m scared of or not used to snow …
While we were having a rest stop at Foncebadón, we saw the clouds darken in front of us and the snow get worse. We were both cold, but the Scouse Spouse seemed to be unwell and unable to get warm*. Plus I worried about the descent down to Acebo – it can be tricky at the best of times, but with the snow covering the trail and hiding uneven surfaces and stones it could be down right dangerous. I asked the man at the bar if it was possible to get a taxi to Acebo, and he rang one. It took a bit of persuading to get him to drive up there, he didn’t really want to go out in the snow, but he did agree to pick us up. I wasn’t happy about having to bail out on another day’s walking, but one look at my clearly uncomfortable husband made it worth it. While we waited for it, two other pilgrims came in from the cold. One was wearing jeans, T-shirt and trainers, as his backpack hadn’t made it onto the same flight and was still in the US. He said he was missing his poles as he couldn’t see what was under the snow, and since they were staying at the same place as us, I lent him my Pacerpoles for the descent. Then off we went to Acebo and the safety of the big, new albergue where we had booked a room.
We had lunch with one of the ladies we met at Rabanal the night before, and she decided to move on to Molinaseca as the weather looked like it was clearing up. No sooner had she left, than this happened – in the space of ten minutes.
We didn’t see her again, but I hope she got down the hill okay! She did walk fast and far so she was probably at Finisterra before we got to Santiago.
Our two pilgrims from Foncebadón made it safely to Acebo, and I was glad I had lent him my poles – as was he. We had a few drinks, a pilgrim meal and then got an early night in the hope that the weather would improve before we started on the normally wonderful walk downhill.
*We did have all the layers we needed, by the way, we weren’t cold because we didn’t have the right clothes – it turned out he had a head cold and possibly a fever which lasted a few days, so I am very happy that I decided we should skip the long walk in the snow.