This is the tough one. The one we have all been pondering – with 17 kms of senda with no services such as bars, shops, toilets, do you start in Carrion and get the stretch done with fresh legs, and then get a bed in tiny Calzadilla and spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool? Or do you start one step further back and get a good rest and food and drink in Carrion before you carry on? Or do you get them done and then add a few to make the next stage into Sahagun shorter?
I opted for the last alternative. Left my room at a record 7 in the morning and set off before it was properly light. At the first junction another veteran peregrina joined me in the hunt for arrows, and we managed to get safely onto the right way. It looked like it was being widened to a nice crunchy gravelly senda. I walked with my fellow veteran peregrina for a while, sharing stories and experiences, and I would happily have walked with her all day. Sadly we walked at slightly different speeds, but knowing the camino, she took no offence when I apologised and said I had to move on. And then there was nothing else for it than to crunch, crunch, crunch silently along the senda while the sun rose in the sky and it got hotter and hotter. There was actually a man in a van there, with coffee and breakfast things, but I chose to stick with what I had.
I caught up with David, who was walking with Nicole and smiling Laura, and again I could happily have walked with them all day. But I felt the urge to really power walk along, so I apologised again and burnt 10 kms in two hours, which must be a new Somewhere Slowly landspeed record!
Still, 17 kms is a long slog of normally four hours or more with any sensible speed and a few stops to sip water, have some fruit or just take the weight off the poor feet. Which I was doing when David caught up with me again, so we carried on together. Honestly, that last bit, when you can actually see the albergue in Calzadilla, feels like it goes on forever. It looked like it was closed as well, but David knew the way to the bar, where eventually we got seats in the shade. I enjoyed a good rest with a piece of marinated lomo (I think) and an Aquarius as a reward for my hard work. But it was getting hotter and hotter and I still had a 5+ km way to go to my bed. David was sensible and headed off, but I stayed for a bit longer enjoying the cool shade and Nicole’s company – she was staying the night, so she was in no hurry either.
Eventually the parasol came out again and I set off into the hot afternoon. The trail is easy, just tiring in the heat and after that start to the day, so I would be lying if I say I particularly enjoyed it. Added to this was that I had been speaking to my young peregrina friend about the dangers of dehydration, which distracted me from actually filling my own bottle before I left, so I had to drink sparingly! Honestly, I am such an amateur at times. I had even brought a 1L collapsible water bag just for this kind of etapa, and that was tucked nicely into a pocket and completely forgotten.
But I did eventually get to the oasis that is La Morena, with albergue beds, hotel rooms, bar and restaurant in one. I had actually downgraded from a single room to a cubbyhole bed because I was curious about how they worked. Turns out most of them were deep, so you had to crawl in head first, and only a few were wide, but I managed to get one of them. It even had a roller blind in front for privacy and a little light and a USB charging outlet. Showers were nice as well, and the food was delicious, so no complaints from me. I made the most of my comfy little cubbyhole bed and actually had an early night!