I’ve logged plenty of wet miles in England, and the weather here in Portugal the last two days has resembled the Lake District. On Monday Judy and I hitched a ride with our bags past what was reported to be a difficult river crossing when the water is high – which it was. Then we climbed up through beautiful pine forests over a high pass into the valley of the river Couro.
It rained on us most of the way. Here’s the problem with Gore-Tex: it keeps you dry from rain, but not from sweat. By the time we reached our hostel, I was sopping wet. Oh, well, maybe that also had something to do with the fact that I left my pit zips open – kind of like not closing the windows during a storm.
The other maddening thing about hiking in the rain is that once you put your hood up, peripheral vision is totally obscured. Luckily for us, most of our waymarks were painted on the rocks beneath our feet. And the granite rocks we were ascending on weren’t slippery when wet. The final mile or so was flat – on an old Roman road. Those Romans built a mighty long-lasting stone road, but oh, are they hard on the feet. It helps to reflect that people have been walking this path for centuries.
This was Judy’s first full rain-walking experience. She didn’t like it any more than I did. But when we saw more grey clouds this morning, and I thought about my very blistered feet, I decided to take a taxi to Tui. Judy – a brave and hardy woman – put on her rain gear and set out to walk the 14 miles no matter what.
I used to debate with myself whether it was right not to walk every mile of a trip, but no more. I just remember that this is vacation, and I’m supposed to mostly enjoy it. There is one consideration here on the Camino Portugues, however. You must walk at least 100 km to be eligible to receive a compostela (certificate of completion) in Santiago. I’ve already done over half of that, so I know I’ll make it.