CF21 Day 14 – Rabanal to Acebo

Most of the rain must have passed us during the night, but I woke up to thick fog, and though I waited as long as I could, it only got thicker. In the end I just decided to be excited about trying my new rain trousers, yay! With the leg zips at half mast I achieved a quite flattering seventies bell bottom look, and I paired it with a merino top. Too dry for a poncho, that would only make me wet from the inside instead of the outside.

The fog and overnight storm provided every form of water but actual rain, so after a km or so everything was essentially damp, but not really cold or wet. So my new rain trousers and I were winning!

I caught up with the Wine Man from the night before in Foncebadón and invited him for a stop and a drink of his choice. He was wearing full dayglo yellow rain kit and drank a lot of water before he carried on. We left the café together, but my pace is faster, so I didn’t see him for the rest of the day (in person, so to speak).

There was a grand total of one person on the Cruz de Ferro when I arrived, and s/he was in hi-viz clothing and seemed to just wander around. By this time it was definitely raining, a fine spray of rain, but I was comfy and dry and warm enough in my blue bag with bell bottom rain trousers. The trail is challenging at the best of time though, so on the Cruz to Molinaseca stretch, please do take your time, use your poles and stop if you want to admire the view! Not that there was much of it when I walked.

The photo above was taken shortly after two red-ponchoed pilgrims were picked up by taxi on the nearby road, within shouting distance and only a hop and a skip from where I was struggling on the wet shale and gravel and wished so much that I was going with them … but somehow I never shouted and never crossed the narrow strip of safe ground to the road to ask to join them. Instead I stopped for a second, breathed deeply in the damp air and carried on. I am glad I did.

Shortly before Acebo, half way down the hill, the fog started to lift. I finally got my fill of the views I was there to enjoy, and I was even more pleased that I never joined the red ponchos in the taxi. My knees remained unimpressed with my decision but when I pointed out that at least I was resting them in Acebo, they reluctantly soldiered on.

Sadly the Mesón mid town was closed – I had hoped to eat there – so I went straight to my albergue, the big modern pilgrim machine at the end of town. I actually chose it because it has a pool … Not that I would be going in it if you paid me there and then! They did however have ankerbiers and lovely views, and I got one of 4 beds in an 8 bed room, so I was happy.

I had half a pilgrim menu for lunch, because I was starving. While I sat at my window table eating, one of the other diners – pretty sure it was one of the red ponchos – ran to the window exclaiming excitedly to her friend, and we all stood up and watched Wine Man in his dayglo yellow suit soldiering on past the last place to stop and rest before Molinaseca. That is commitment! I heard from him after he had arrived and his verdict was that it was ‘brutal’. He’s not wrong. The trail from Rabanal to Molinaseca might seem short enough on a map, but the trail is indeed brutal, so stop in Acebo, of only for a rest and refuel!

After lunch I ended up chatting to the very nice couple I had lent chairs to in Astorga and met at the Refugio in Rabanal. They were from the US and Brazil – both musicians – and seem to be doing the same sort of stages I am. I decided to have another half a menu for dinner there that evening with them and ended up at a table for four, so we invited Maria, another solo peregrina from the US, to eat with us. She said she was struggling to eat and sleep properly, even though she had felt so well prepared. I wonder if she had been too immersed in it before arriving, if watching too many videos and reading too many blogs might have made it hard to match her expectations of the camino to the reality. It’s not easy to suddenly change your entire daily routine, your diet, your social life and not least your activity level to basically just walk, eat, sleep, repeat. She had decided to take a day off in gorgeous Acebo and rest a sore foot, which was probably a good idea considering there would be more challenging track the next morning.

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